By Erle Morring, CAMPUSPEAK
Last night while speaking on a university campus, I witnessed an amazing act of student leadership. It occurred immediately after my anti-hazing program, Hazed and Confused, in which I share the story of the death of my fraternity little brother as well as the subsequent death of one of his pledge brothers.
Following my presentation, a student leader from each fraternity was paired with a student leader from a sorority and they were required to present to the entire Greek community about a particular aspect of hazing (i.e. — media reports, definitions, legal ramifications, university policy, alternatives to hazing, etc.) These students gave wonderful, serious and thoughtful presentations. I was amazed at what a good job each of them did articulating his or her position.
Bradley (not his real name) was truly an effective leader in front of the entire Greek community on his campus last night. Effective leaders, like Bradley, must have a goal they wish to attain and an ability to communicate that goal. Bradley’s goal was to make a mockery out of this school’s National Hazing Prevention Week activities and he succeeded wholeheartedly in his efforts.
I watched Bradley slowly strutting up to the podium and was amazed at what he said. First, he takes the microphone and announces he’s a new member of XYZ fraternity. Then says, no one has forced him to give this presentation and that he’s doing it under his own free will. Everyone in the crowd, including me, laughed at his first comment.
Then his alternatives started with guys sharing arts and crafts time together and like the first, his other alternatives were clearly designed to portray an image that all of this anti-hazing stuff was feminine, sissy-like in nature or otherwise pansy-type activities. His meaning, as I understood it, was men should be men. Men should haze. All of this stuff discussed tonight is ridiculous. And then, he then strutted off the stage with a big ‘ole smile and walked slowly down the aisle back to his seat.
Guys like him are the reason hazing continues to plague Greek communities nationwide. Students know who these members are in their organizations — the guys that love to haze, the guys that talk about what they’re going to do to the pledges during chapter meetings, the guys that force them to do all the crazy “traditions” that hazing organizations supposedly hold so dear. And all of this negative leadership from guys like Bradley results in a group think mentality that hazing is o.k., hazing is the norm and hazing is important to Greek life.
Chapters must weed out the bad seeds – the guys that cause the problems. I believe that 100% of all chapter members are not hazers. Everyone is not doing it. But the men that don’t participate in hazing, must step up to the plate, lead by example, and remove the men from the ranks of their chapter membership that cause the problems. If chapters don’t weed out the bad seeds themselves, it is quite possible the university or the national office will close the entire chapter.
It’s your choice! Choose a different path than Bradley.
Erle Morring is a nationally recognized speaker on fraternity and sorority hazing activities. He is represented by CAMPUSPEAK in Aurora, Colorado. www.campuspeak.com. 303.745.5545.