Category Archives: new member education

Q and A with Karla Hunt from Make Hazing Stop

How did you become involved with anti-hazing initiatives?

My activism in the fight against hazing is a direct result of the abuse my son suffered while a member of his high school swim team. Hazing victims face many obstacles trying to recover from the abuse they suffered and I wanted to help my son recover in the best way possible.  I hope sharing my story with others will help someone else who may feel lost or alone.  My son was one of the 1.5 million victims of high school hazing abuse annually.  While our main goal is to see hazing come to an end, until that time we hope to become a resource for other families facing similar situations.

What challenges have you faced in trying to address hazing in your community?

The biggest challenge we have faced is the shroud of secrecy that surrounded hazing here.  The complete and total circling of the wagons to deny the problem exists.  A problem cannot be addressed if it is not acknowledged in the first place.  Anyone who downplays or ignores hazing is jeopardizing the lives of the victims. As if hazing wasn’t bad enough by itself, it’s traumatic to have the abuse discounted by those who could and should do something to stop it.  Victims must be treated with care and compassion to help them deal with the trauma they have experienced.

What advice would you give others trying to eliminate hazing in their group or community?

Educate everyone and enforce rules that have been put in place to deter such behavior.  When rules are ignored and hazing behaviors are not disciplined, it sends a strong message that hazing is condoned and tolerated.  When that happens, the smaller behaviors turn into the larger behaviors as the perpetrators become emboldened by an attitude of acceptance and tolerance.  School officials and law enforcement personnel, as well as prosecutors and government agencies, must recognize the damage that results from hazing and respond appropriately when abuse is reported.  All 50 states have laws requiring teachers, doctors, and police to report child abuse, both physical and psychological, and hazing should be included under these statutes.   There are clearly victims and yet all too often hazing is not seen as a crime by those who in a position to help the victims.

Finally, should you become aware of a hazing culture within an organization, report it immediately.  Report it to anyone and everyone.  You cannot do too much towards ending hazing.  It will take a collective effort to end hazing, but it can be done.

To learn more about Karla and her son’s experience visit the Make Hazing Stop Facebook page.

New Group Learning Environment Mirrors Fraternity Leadership Development Programs

Faculty member Dave Mainella works with chapter presidents during the 2012 College of Chapters in St. Louis.

GOOD magazine has a new story up about an intriguing program at Penn State that aims to provide professional mentoring for college students all living in the same house:

Imagine as many as 60 entrepreneurial college students living under a single roof and being mentored by successful professionals in their chosen fields. That’s the idea behind a social living project called co.space in State College, Pennsylvania.

Working with more than 50 student interns from Penn State, New Leaf built the framework that will serve as a model for other universities interested in the project: a two-year program for juniors and seniors that includes a semester of training, the opportunity to lead a semester-long project, a summer internship, and a personal mentor—plus a plethora of professional networking options in-house.

It sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? What are some ways fraternities could collaborate with GOOD or co.space on a similar project?

A tale of two chapters – the opportunity cost of hazing

While your chapter was designing this year’s recruitment t-shirt (another beer logo, of course), my chapter was having lunch with prospective members and their parents.

While your chapter was creating demeaning nicknames for each pledge, my chapter was taking the time to learn each candidate’s name, hometown and life story.

While your chapter was debating what embarrassing costume each pledge should wear for this weekend’s party, my chapter was helping each candidate set personal goals for the semester.

While your chapter was out buying family drinks for Big Brother night, my chapter was arranging a mentoring program for each candidate to work with an alumnus in his field of study.

While your chapter was holding the weekly line-up in the basement to grill pledges on arbitrary questions they can’t answer, our brothers were at the library studying with the candidates (our candidates learn Fraternity history from the brothers).

While your pledges were out stealing road signs, defacing property, and breaking into campus buildings during the annual scavenger hunt, our candidates were listening to a guest speaker talk about time management skills and effective study habits at our weekly chapter meeting.

While your pledges were running errands and performing arbitrary tasks to complete their interview books, we were hosting a parents’ dinner to learn more about our candidates and their families.

While your brothers were harassing pledges in front of their dates at last weekend’s mixer, our chapter was hosting an etiquette dinner with the top sorority on campus.

While your chapter was trying to coordinate manufactured stories for the upcoming “nationals” visit, my chapter was updating our strategic plan to free up time for feedback and guidance during the leadership consultant’s visit.

While your chapter was searching for loopholes in the risk reduction policy for this weekend’s off-campus party, my chapter was hosting a speaker on alcohol education open to the entire campus. (We hosted a party that weekend too, except we followed our insurance guidelines.)

While your members were swapping stories of drunken female conquests from the previous night, my chapter was hosting a campus-wide program on preventing sexual assault.

While your chapter accepted mediocrity, we sought excellence.

While your chapter slowly fumbled everything away, we gradually earned our way to the top.

And while your chapter looked for someone to blame, we resolved to reach for the next level.

Rock Chapter recipients proudly display their awards during the 64th Grand Chapter in Boston.

“We can’t just let anyone into the chapter.”

Just a few of our favorite responses to today’s #40Answers hazing excuse:

@KeithEllis02: “A bid is an invitation to join, not an invitation to be hazed. Make better decisions on the front end not 6 weeks into pledging.”

@bgibson27: “We can’t let just anybody in.” Doing pushups, tolerating yelling, memorizing your interests. Quality new members there…

@David_Stollman: “If u REALLY believe in hazing, promote that u do it & stop lying! Then see who joins. I dare u. At least ur not hypocrites then.”

@KPezzella: “A well-articulated recruitment plan and training for your chapter will ensure that you get quality new members without hazing.”

@TJatCAMPUSPEAK: “Challenge hasn’t been to keep the unworthy out. It’s getting the worthy in & they have better things to do than tolerate hazing.”

@SigmaNuDrew: “Riiiight. Who needs grades and character when we can have a chapter full of people with good memory and no self-worth.”

Read all of the outstanding responses to today’s excuse here.

Will rookie hazing help the Titans win more than six games?

The Tennessee Titans finished the 2010 season tied for last place in their division. With such a disappointing record, you’d think the team would be spending precious training camp hours on activities that actually contribute to winning football games (e.g. reviewing blocking assignments, watching film, timing routes, etc.).

But the “team,” if you can call it one, seems more interested in taping rookies to the goal post and dumping ice-cold water all over them.

Will the Titan’s rookie hazing help them suck less than they did last year? Not likely. As the Dallas Cowboys learned last year, rookie hazing failed to deliver on its promises. (It’s no surprise that the Cowboys took a decisively different stance on rookie hazing this year.)

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning, though currently recovering from recent neck surgery, is focused on getting rookies involved in the team as soon as possible:

“You’ve seen all the highlights with the rookie hazing and haircuts,” Manning said, per John Oehser of FanHouse. “We don’t do that around here, because we don’t treat the guys like rookies. We expect those guys to play this year and to play well.”

“Hazing builds better members by instilling toughness.”

A few of our favorite responses from today’s #40Answers excuse, “Hazing builds better members by instilling toughness.”

@fraternalthoughts: Teaching someone to be submissive and take orders instills toughness? Let’s create leaders, not subordinates.

@TJatCAMPUSPEAK: Know what’s tough? Being a good husband, father, student, citizen, professional. Prepare them for that. Hazing doesn’t do it.

@bgibson27: Hazing instills toughness? Stop acting like you’re a military Drill Instructor–it is disrespectful to those who serve.

@GullsGoGreek: Be tough and accountable on what is important: values, grades, campus involvement. Hazing is for the weak!

Are you a fan or a fanatic?

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

We all have strong convictions about something. It could be a political belief (“taxes hurt small businesses”), or a historical narrative (“FDR ended the Great Depression”) or even the eminence of a favorite sports team (“Chicago Cubs are the best baseball team ever”).

Maybe it’s something as simple as a favorite TV show (“Hands down, Entourage is the best show to ever grace the airwaves”). Whatever it may be, everyone is passionate about something.

In everyday usage, “fan” describes someone passionate about a sports team, a TV show, a musician, and so on. “I’m a lifelong Redskins fan,” one might say in casual conversation, or “I’m a huge fan of Tom Petty.

But the root word of fan carries a much different, and more harmful, meaning. Merriam-Webster defines fanatic as “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion.” (Synonyms include “extremist” and “radical.”)

For a fan of the Detroit Lions a win brings him a sense of joy, but he can acknowledge, after observing the team’s record over the past ten years, that the franchise is not the best in the League.

For a fanatic, on the other hand, evidence doesn’t matter. The Detroit Lions are the best team in the League, period, and no amount of reason or logic will change his mind. It sounds silly in a sports analogy, but from time to time we’re all prone to such blindness in our decision making in other areas of our lives.

So what happens when we’re confronted with new evidence that conflicts with an existing worldview? How will you react? Will you take a big gulp, swallow your pride and change your mind? Or will you frantically search for stories that confirm your narrative and ignore anything that refutes it?

Thankfully for us Sigma Nus, the anecdote to fanaticism is right in front of us. Our founding principle of Truth expects us to make decisions based on sound information, even if it might not support our existing belief.

In short, Truth calls on us to keep an open mind–to consider the possibility that we made a mistake in our thinking. It requires us to walk away from a false paradigm no matter how psychologically painful it might be.

Which brings us to the #40 Answers in 40 Days Campaign. Beginning tomorrow, and continuing through National Hazing Prevention Week, hazers will be confronted with a steady assault of evidence and logic that questions a deeply rooted worldview—a worldview that regards the arbitrary mistreatment of new members as a legitimate way to build lifelong friendships and commitment to the fraternity.

For hazing’s True Believers we ask one thing: Consider the possibility that you might be wrong.