Sometime in the next couple of weeks, newspaper headlines, bloggers, and TV pundits will be telling the public about a fraternity somewhere in this country that will be closed down because one of their new members went to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. The story might be about a new member who didn’t make it to or out of the hospital alive. This will happen because of Big Brother night.
How do I know this? I know it because it happens every year around this time. It happened to three Phi Delta Theta chapters last fall. None of these events start out with the intention of sending pledges to the hospital. They occur because members concede, “We’ve always done this”, “It’s tradition”, “All of the other fraternities do it”, or “I had to do it”. You and your members have been educated about the dangers of this activity through your universities and colleges and at ELI and PLC. Yet some of you will turn your heads and think, “That couldn’t happen to us.” These activities include drinking games, drinking races, endurance drinking, and a myriad of other abusive activities that can easily lead to bodily harm and death. You cannot control these events or predict their outcome.
Each member of every chapter has the ability to stand up against hazing in their chapter, specifically against the forced consumption of alcohol or the excessive use of alcohol at Big Brother night events. Once you as a chapter leader allow any activity of this sort to occur, you are complicit with the activity and share responsibility for whatever may happen as a result of that activity. Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Are you a man who will do nothing and allow evil to prevail?
Do nothing about alcohol consumption on Big Brother night and you may become a headline, a defendant, a man without a fraternity, or a pall bearer. Evil will prevail.
Do something to stop it and you will become the Phi that our Founders imagined. You will be a hero, a real man, A REAL BIG BROTHER. Evil will have no place in your chapter and the ideals of the Bond will permeate your brotherhood.
As a brother, for your sake and the sake of your chapter, do not think, “That couldn’t happen to us.” On my bookshelf, I have the magazine of a national fraternity which includes the story of a young man on my campus who drank too much at a Big Brother night function, fell down the stairs, and died. The president of the chapter wrote the article for the fraternity magazine. He understood the results of his actions.
The title of his article, “That Couldn’t Happen To Us.”
It can happen to you.
Be the man who says, “To do that which ought to be done, but would not be done unless I did it, I thought to be my duty.”
Be a real man. Be a real Big Brother. Be a true Phi.
Yours in the Bond, Sparky
Dr. Sparky Reardon is the Assistant Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students at the University of Mississippi.