National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW) is September 22-26, 2014! NHPW is an opportunity for campuses, schools, communities, organizations and individuals to raise awareness about the problem of hazing, education others about hazing, and promote the prevention of hazing. In honor of NHPW, we asked several Brothers to tell us a bit about their experiences with and without hazing. These testimonials prove that not only is hazing not needed to create a worthwhile fraternity experience, but it is a detriment to the respect, loyalty and brotherhood we strive to create.
My dad had told me stories of the things he had to do as a pledge when he was in college back in the early 60s. Activities such as keeping a chicken that was tied to your ankle alive for a week and filling a barrel in the basement with water you collected in your mouth from another barrel on the third floor seemed somewhat harmless and amusing, if not pointless. Fast forward thirty years, and those “activities” evolved into line-ups, ‘bows-n-toes, and other vile acts too humiliating to mention. Those were the types of things my fellow freshmen at other fraternities were telling me about. Some were scared to answer the phone for fear they’d be called to the house and have to do something stupid for the perverse enjoyment of some drunk active.
I was utterly confused by this. Throughout my pledge semester, I had not once felt afraid to go to the Lodge, quite the opposite in fact. I spent most of my time there. I studied there, ate there, and hung out with the Brothers who lived there. We had similar responsibilities that most pledge classes of other fraternities had, but I never felt the level of intimidation that my other counterparts had shared with me. When asked why on earth they would subject themselves to what seemed to be akin to a mild form of torture, the response usually was, “They told me I needed to earn my pin and give my proper respect to the brothers.”
This was one of several “What????” moments I had regarding others’ fraternity experience. All throughout rush, I heard nothing but how the brotherhood was strong at each house I visited. How can a brotherhood be strong when members are too scared to go to their house? How does one feel a part of an organization when they are constantly degraded, humiliated, and put down? And, after sufficient time has passed and torturous activities become boring, they are suddenly brothers and now everything’s OK? I don’t think so.
If we want our new members to respect the Fraternity, show them a Brotherhood worth respecting. Instead of random tasks and projects with no meaning or value, have them do something that benefits the entire Alpha. For example, I was the kitchen steward when I was a New Member. I had the important task of grocery shopping for perishables for the week that weren’t delivered by the food company. Another of my New Member class was the #4.5, still another the Assistant Social Chair. We were a part of the Fraternity, learning how the organization was run. Have new members plan social events. Take them through the process of reserving a venue, ensuring all risk management procedures are followed, creating and sticking to a budget, etc. Encourage them to join or even chair committees within the Alpha. By appropriately engaging and including them in the day-to-day operations of the Fraternity, you not only teach your new members how to run an Alpha, you help build that respect that seems to be so desired by the actives.
Not very many of my friends in other fraternities who were hazed are still active with their organizations. Some still have friends who were their brothers, but nothing to the level I have seen with Chi Psi as a whole. I think it is because that “respect” that was expected of those men was never really there to begin with. And that’s the problem. Respect is something earned, not expected. It is the Active Members that earn the respect of the new members through their actions towards others and towards the Fraternity. It is not something that is given freely or undeservedly, for it is the very moment that respect is demanded that it is lost.
Douglas R. Buglewicz, G’96