Monday, December 14, 2009

What "Men" Get Involved In Hazing?

Who was involved in hazing in my chapter?

Men who couldn't get respect otherwise.

It was never the guy that got good grades, was a leader in the chapter, or was involved on campus. Never. It was always the guy that didn't have anything else. The fraternity was all he had. That was his only sphere of influence. And consequently, the only area where he felt he had some control.

Now, he didn't really have control. As soon as other real men were there, he would never pull his antics, stunts, or displays of "toughness." Because when a real man presents himself in the room, all other guys know the game is up. The only reason he has control is because the other, better, more involved guys are off doing other things. You could certainly make a case that they are more important, but nevertheless the real leaders often aren't there.

Why is it that the smallest guy in the group is more often than not picking the fight at the bar? One look at the chart above and I rest my case.

How do you combat this? Timing.

When I was chapter president, I generally had a good idea when other chapter members might try to do something, particularly hazing. And I showed up. Just hung out. And because I did, I was able to prevent or intervene. Some chapter presidents and leaders chose to "opt out" by being gone all the time. Now I realize that it is difficult to study in a chapter house as a chapter president, but gross absence from the job is dereliction of duty.

Our chapters need more good leaders to show up and the right time and say "No."

When I was traveling as a consultant after college, a good friend of mine also traveled for Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. When he was traveling and on another campus, he saw another fraternity (not his own) hazing their new members. What did he do? He went over and introduced himself. He showed up. And because he did, they stopped.

First, show up and stop hazing in your own chapter. And when you see another chapter that doesn't have any other men to do it, show up and stop hazing in their chapter.

Because when a real leader presents her/himself in the room, all other individuals know the game is up.

For more anti-hazing resources go to: Hazing Prevention, Limberlost Consulting, Hank Nuwer, and Stop Hazing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best of Busted!

Theta Chi shuts down: Fraternity disaffiliates after members violate 'Good Conduct' requirement

Early last month the University announced the fraternity's disaffiliation, meaning that "Theta Chi is no longer recognized as a University of Oregon fraternity," as stated in a memorandum to the University Greek community. The decision came after fall term in which Theta Chi was found guilty of hazing and also incurred $10,000 worth of damages at a resort while on a retreat.
Theta Chi had been on probation for several years because of poor behavior. On Dec. 2, 2005, Eugene Police Department cited the fraternity as one entity for an alcohol-related infraction. A second citation followed in spring 2006.
In March 2007 the fraternity neared collapse after another fraternity reported Theta Chi for loading beer kegs into trucks to use for an official function. As a result, Theta Chi "came extraordinarily close to a mandated shutdown."
On the most recent Compliance Review for the Greek system, Theta Chi failed the "Good Conduct" requirement, which encompasses alcohol infractions, judicial sanctions and other behavior issues. It met the standards in all other fields, including academic performance.
The dealbreaker was Theta Chi's fall retreat to Odell Lake Resort. At the end of the trip, they were charged with $10,000 in damages. The bill included charges such as $700 for dishwashing and $800 in trash disposal.
In the coming terms, Theta Chi members "plan on continuing our traditions and maintaining our integrity as a chapter.”

Maintaining integrity as a chapter? It sounds to us like the chapter events most recently revolved around hazing and destructive activities…I guess that’s integrity if the chapter claims upfront that that’s what they are all about. But, we like to think that integrity refers to walking the talk of our fraternal values (which, last time we checked, didn’t include getting wasted and breaking stuff).

On top of everything, isn’t the whole concept of destroying hotel property during formals and date parties old news? Our fraternities and sororities were not founded with the ideas of formals and date parties. Even though such events have since become a normal, fun and perfectly acceptable component of our organizations, there must be a way to do it all with a little more class; one that doesn’t involve destroying other people’s property. No wonder most communities these days have more places that will not allow fraternities and sororities to host events than the number of places who welcome our events.

Hoffman, H. (2009, January 5). Theta Chi shuts down: Fraternity disaffiliates after members violate 'Good Conduct' requirement. [Electronic Version). Oregon Daily Emerald. Retrieved January 6, 2009 from:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting your name out there

This week's post is a guest post from Ryan Hilperts. We like it.

There are many a word or phrase that have overstayed their welcome in popular culture. Think “out of the box” or “totally rad.” Each had their day, and that day is gone. I would like to add another to the list of clich├ęs that needs be left alone, one uttered by more fraternity and sorority leaders than I care to count. Recently, I heard a colleague use the phrase in an effort to motivate fraternities and sororities to action. That put me over the edge. As he looked at 12 council delegates and six officers, he uttered the words that made me want to clutch my ears in pain: “It would be a great way to get your name out there.”

I truly can’t catalogue the number of ways I’ve heard that all-purpose solution dished up:

“We should do service, it’ll get our name out there.”

“Let’s co-sponsor the pickle tickle, so we can get our name out there.”

“The mixer with Beta Beta will really get our name out there for recruitment.”

“How can we get our name out there with the faculty?”

And every last one of them should be banned. Yesterday. In fact, Google tells me that the book 9 Lies That Are Holding Your Business Back by Steven Chandler and Sam Bedford lists “we just need to get our name out there,” as lie number three. It’s not just me! It’s been published!

And yet, we spend good, hard-to-come-by budget dollars for professionals who are prettier and more articulate than I to talk about how to – positively and appropriately – get the fraternity/sorority name “out there.” These folks say witty and inspiring things. But for you, dear AFLV blog reader, I am going to offer the realities about this misguided incentive free of charge.

Reality #1: Your name is already out there.

I promise. Stop worrying about getting your name out there and start worrying about making a newer or better name for yourself. You have to live under a rock in North America to have missed a reference to fraternities and sororities during the past 10 years.

Reality #2: The name that’s out there isn’t what it should be.

Most of the fraternity/sorority members who will read this don’t need me to tell them that. They get it. Most will call what is out there a stereotype. I tend to believe it can’t be a stereotype if it’s true. And in many cases, it’s true. And the fraternity and sorority members who don’t realize that our reputation precedes us are likely the folks who ARE getting your name out there and not in the way you want. But, here comes the real kicker.

Reality #3: If you’re doing fraternity and sorority right, it’s not news.

When fraternity and sorority members say they want to get their name out there, they typically mean that they want positive press. They want credit for the good work that they do. They want someone to recognize them for whom they believe they are, not for what the public believes them to be. The trick is that leading, serving, studying, and showing compassion are what fraternities and sororities are about. And it’s not headline worthy if you’re doing what you’re about. Tiger Woods is much less scandalous when he’s making the turn at Augusta National than when some shenanigans lead to him crashing his SUV into a tree at 2 a.m. Why? Because the latter isn’t supposed to happen.

Luckily, the symptoms of the “we need to get our name out there” illness have treatments.

Treatment #1: Just stop.

Stop spending so much time thinking and talking about how to get your name out there. Stop wearing a make-shift diaper and calling it a toga while sloshing around beer in a red Solo cup outside the football stadium at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Don’t talk about it; don’t take a vote. Just stop. Stop allowing members and chapters that make bad choices to be members or chapters. Don’t hem and haw about them being brothers or sisters; don’t worry that they’ll be mad at you (they will). Don’t let chapters hide behind procedural protections in the conduct process when someone could be getting hurt. Just stop the madness and their membership. Stop complaining that the student newspaper won’t write a story about your chapter’s high GPA. It’s supposed to be high, and that’s not news. Stop complaining that the local news used the death of a fraternity pledge as their lead story. That is news, and it’s tragic.

You can do all the great things in the world you want, but you will run out of time and run into the same problem if you don’t stop doing the less-than-great things, too.

Treatment #2: Make your own headlines.

Absolutely no one will brag about your organization unless you do it yourself. Ask any marketing expert in the country – word of mouth is the most powerful publicity in any sphere of influence. If you brag about the things you do well, other people will, too. Write press releases, tell stories, and send letters home to parents. Buy letterpress stationary with your organization name on it and write a note to the college president. Do not get frustrated when you are the only one doing it, or feel like you are. Keep bragging. Remember, this is publicity, not news. (See Treatment #1)
There are two very important things to remember about this. First, the good news is that we have a small window of opportunity that has been created by all those members who gave us a bad name. In some places and in some cases audiences will be so shocked by your good works it will be news. This is a limited time offer. Capitalize on it. Know that when the shock about your good work dissipates, it’s a good thing. That means you’ve made it normal. Second, understand that getting members on the student newspaper staff is not how this is done. Respect the cannons of journalism and those trying to learn it as their profession and don’t try to use a news outlet for your own agenda. This does not apply to paid advertising space – get as much of that as you can.

Fraternity and sorority members who truly believe that the priority is getting their name out there have problems no PR firm can fix. But the fraternal movement is being fixed – one student leader at a time. Most of the students who have been making a difference in the past 10 years don’t stop to talk about getting their organization’s name out there. They do it. And they do it in ways that are press-release worthy. Now go write one while I fanaticize about the day colleagues no longer motivate fraternity and sorority members by telling them that an event will “get their name out there,” but instead bang down my door to recommend student leaders for fraternity and sorority membership.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Historic Moment in Greek Life


On November 7, 2009 the Brothers of Phi Iota Alpha, Lambda Alpha Upsilon, Lambda Theta Phi, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Lambda Upsilon Lambda and Sigma Lambda Beta came together for a Solidarity Summit in Albany, New York on the campus of the University of Albany.

Through the efforts of the National Offices of these fraternities over 200 young men decided that an end must come to competitive rivalries that could lead to unproductive actions and this could not and would not be tolerated.

While this historic moment was not meant to be exclusionary in any way.  These dedicated individuals were not mandated, nor were their actions driven by a governing body.  It was the dedication to brotherhood, commitment to unity and an oath of cohesive tenacity that will some day lead to participation of other men, regions, organizations and maybe even one day other culturally based groups.

I was humbled and honored to have been a part of this experience as these young men engaged in dialogue that reminded me why our organizations are important, our presence is needed, and our pillars are true…scholarship, unity, service and academic excellence is the foundation of all of our organizations, these young men not only role modeled these values, they dedicated themselves to improve upon them.

Again, while this event never meant to exclude, I think it has set the precedent for many others in the Greek community, traditional, cultural, men or women, whatever may separates us…for at least one day, to say that even though our colors highlight who we are, the letters are a bond that will last forever.

Submitted by Robert Page, Founder NBGLC

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stop Putting Stupid Crap On Your T-Shirts

I believe in the freedom of speech.

It's a first amendment right guaranteed by the constitution of the United States.

Therefore, I believe fraternities and sororities should be able to put whatever they want on their own t-shirts.

But when you put whatever you want on your fraternity or sorority t-shirt and then complain about your negative media image, you insult my intelligence (and everyone else's). It's laughable just how much of a complete hypocrite you are.

I know it might sound like a good idea in your chapter meeting to do that hilarious t-shirt idea that "somebody" just thought of - but it isn't. Trust me.

I've been tracking stupid fraternity and sorority t-shirts for some time now. Here are a few actual shirts from actual chapters (and these are some of the less harsh ones):
  • Party like Rockstars. Pound like Pornstars. Play like All-Stars. (fraternity)
  • The Hardware Party: Get nailed, hammered, and screwed. (sorority)
  • Hey little ladies, get ready for your mustache ride. (fraternity)
  • When we go down, we don't come up until the job is done. (sorority)
I'll let you put whatever you want on your t-shirts as long as you NEVER, EVER complain to me or anyone else about your negative media image.

To be crystal clear, that means you can never say things like...
  • "The media is always negative"
  • "The paper is out to get us"
  • "They only publish the bad things"
  • "The paper is anti-Greek"
...ever again. Never.

Stop putting stupid crap on your t-shirts. Now.

P.S. - How many people outside of the Greek community know the Greek alphabet? Then how do I know that horrible t-shirt isn't from your fraternity or sorority? (Newsflash: This is the rationale for why your Greek community should have a policy against stupid t-shirts)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Drugs Found in Fraternity

Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity has been expelled from San Diego State.

The fraternity had been placed on interim suspension pending the outcome of the hearing after the SDSU Police Department searched a nearby house and yielded a large quantity of illegal drugs and implicated Sigma Alpha Mu members in drug sales. The fraternity was required to cease all activities and maintain all chapter-related facilities alcohol and drug-free during the interim suspension. Still, on June 10, another police search of an apartment in the Sigma Alpha Mu section of Fraternity Row found illegal drugs and evidence of drug sales.

[An SDSU Spokesperson] added that the two recent incidents were not the first for the fraternity. In fact, he said that the fraternity has a history of policy violations for more than a year. Another of its violations is serving alcohol to minors. Additionally, during Operation Sudden Fall, the campus drug bust in the spring of 2008, the university placed Sigma Alpha Mu on interim suspension and later lifted it.

[The current chapter] president of Sigma Alpha Mu said that the university’s decision was unexpected: “It’s shocking. It’s like you’ve been devoted to something for so long and then it’s gone”… “It’s like losing a big part of your life; and then, afterwards, you’re wondering what you’re going to be doing next.”

[The chapter president] said the decision was fair, but he believes the punishment was too harsh. The expulsion revokes recognition of the fraternity on campus as an organization for at least four years.

[The chapter president] said that it seems like the Greek community is continually blamed for wrongdoings. “It’s not just the Greeks; (drugs are) everywhere,” He said. “I hate to say this, but it’s college.”

What’s really best about this article are the comments that follow it online.

One commenter called ‘Proud to be a Sammy’ stated: “Sammys has [sic] done countless work for sdsu [sic]and this is how we get repaid. they [sic] never even mention the specifics because they know the evidence is so rediculously [sic] small to expell [sic] a chapter from campus. Its [sic] such a joke that because they are so sad that playboy [sic]rated them the 3rd best party school they have to highly publicize a stupid incident to make it look like they are regulating and all the students would tell you they are just hurting the situation, not changing anything, killing the greek system, and negatively affecting the lives of many.”

Mr. Proud, you spelled a few things wrong in your rebuttal, otherwise, you are TOTALLY right (sense the sarcasm?)! SDSU is totally just trying to pull itself from the trenches after that dang Playboy ranking. I mean, those rankings are really important and expelling a chapter (even though it’s for NO reason… obviously) is going to make everything better.

Isn’t it funny (if by ‘funny’ you mean ‘too bad’) when people completely miss the point?

After doing a little more digging, it turns out that the drugs found were specifically approximately two pounds of marijuana.

One commenter stated “go through your damn dorms and I'm sure you'll gather MUCH MORE than a stupid 2 pounds worth of pot”. Okay, we get it… on the scale of harmfulness we can all agree that marijuana is less harmful than other drugs, like heroin. But ‘two stupid pounds of pot’? This writer clearly has no clue about the basics on marijuana. Two pounds of marijuana is 32 ounces. Considering most smokers buy weed by the eighth of quarter of an ounce, that’s enough weed for at least 200 people’s personal use. This is not a stupid and meaningless amount, it’s enough to fill up a regular sized school backpack – and you’d really have to shove it in there. Furthermore, considering that an ounce of pot sells for somewhere between $300 and $400, two pounds is more than 11 THOUSAND dollars of merchandise. We don’t think it’s that farfetched to say that if you collected all of the weed from the all of the pockets on all of the people at Woodstock, you still might not have two pounds of pot.

Not to be a jerk, but any person with basic math skills and social awareness knows that nobody EVER has two pounds of pot around unless they are selling it. I mean, we hate to say this, but it's obvious.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anti-Hazing...There Should Be An App For That

A good friend of mine, Dr. Martin Neumann (and member of Sigma Phi Delta), happened to be on a campus recently and called me. He said, "Hey, I'm standing outside of a sorority chapter house right now and they're hazing their new members. They're all dressed in white, lined up two by two outside of the house, and the seniors are yelling at them."

I said, "Absolutely that's hazing. There is nothing in that sorority's official documents or ritual that would have them line their new members up, outside of the house, and yell at them. You should call the Greek Advisor." At which point he did.

A few days later, we were talking about it again and we both thought he should have taken a picture of it. This got me thinking...

While I totally support hazing hotlines, we need to develop a new 21st century strategy for combating hazing.

We need to create a way in which people can take a picture or capture a video of hazing or inappropriate behavior occurring right there on their cell phones, and let them send it in anonymously to a national organization like Hazing, F.I.P.G., the headquarters, or fraternity/sorority affairs office. We need an app for that.

What stops a campus or headquarters moving forward with an alleged violation? Evidence and proof that it was occurring.

We need to create a way that anyone - and I mean anyone - anyone in the chapter, anyone in the Greek community, and anyone outside of the chapter (including non-affiliated folks), to take pictures and capture videos that can be anonymously submitted to any Greek Life Office or inter/national headquarters. Imagine, it's like planting hundreds of little, small, hazing detection devices in and around the fraternity/sorority community. The best part? They're already there and it doesn't cost us any more money.

It's already happening. It's already popular and integrated through iReporting on CNN and other news networks in their coverage. You take a picture, video, send it to CNN, and often times it is instantly broadcast on the network. We also saw a version of this when the news agencies were covering the war in Iraq with "embedded" reporters. We need the same thing to report hazing.

We need posters and emails with how to submit pictures and videos placed in all chapter houses.

Councils could sponsor street signs posted near fraternity/sorority row like neighborhood watch signs.

If a fraternity/sorority headquarters or Greek Life Office was really committed to eliminating hazing, they would specifically target all of the neighbors who live right next door to chapters and say, "Hey, if you see or hear anything suspicious, please take a photo or video on your camera and send it in anonymously to us."

We need to make it so easy, it's effortless. We need to utilize the technology that virtually everyone already has. We need an app for that.

The other aspect is the deterrent factor. For every one hazing incident captured, how many will be prevented because in the back of the members heads, they’ll remember that there is the possibility of being caught? We have security cameras on campuses, security cameras on sidewalks/highways, why don’t we have hazing security cameras?

I believe we already do.

I can see the tagline on the anti-hazing posters and flyers, "You have the power to stop hazing right your hands."

***11.18.09 Update: Now YouTube has an app for that!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Frat boy or Fraternity man?

These days, it seems like "frat" is used in a negative context almost everywhere we turn. Recently, I've heard these phrases on TV, in airplane conversations, and played out public. Every time I see or hear "frat" or "frat boy" or "frat house" used in a negative context, I get a little bit worked up. Depending on the situation, this sometimes freaks people who are with me or around me out a bit. I am totally OK with this.

A few weeks ago, I was on a plane headed home after a long weekend away. It was a fun flight, people were in a good mood, and I even shared some small talk with my seatmate. (I am usually a VERY anti-social flier...) The young man across the aisle from me was swapping stories about his weekend fun with his seatmate. I didn't eavesdrop on their whole conversation, but when I heard, "It was like a great frat party. My liver might not recover." I cringed a bit. Their conversation continued on, with several more negative references to fraternity life. When I had the chance, I jumped in, and asked if either of them were fraternity men. The young man with the potentially failing liver said he "was in a frat" when he was in college. More cringing. I explained what I do for a living and he looked at me like I had two heads. I didn't ask where he went to college, because I didn't want to know the answer. This young man (and presumably, most of his brothers) missed out on a lifetime of opportunity because they were members of a drinking club and not a values-based fraternity living out their ritual in daily life.

Fast forward a week or so. I had the chance to cheer on my favorite college football team when they played an institution not far from my new home. It was a late morning game on Halloween, and the culmination of Homecoming week for the host institution. I arrived on campus about an hour before the game, and headed toward the stadium with my friends. As we neared the gates, we passed a group of young men dressed in "togas" (they looked more like diapers to me, but I digress...) acting rowdy and openly sharing swigs from several large bottles of liquor. Their drunken babble could be heard over the voices of the hundreds of fans passing by on their way into the stadium. Because they were basically wearing diapers, their fraternity letter tattoos were on display for those who passed by to see. The middle aged woman in front of me commented to her husband that she was glad their son had decided not to join a frat. I can't blame her after that display. Seriously? It was roughly 10:45 in the morning. That behavior is not appropriate at any time, but was further magnified by the bright sunlight and relative sobriety of everyone else around these boys. I commented to my friends that at least these young men were providing me with some job security. You might wonder why I didn't stop and confront them (I wondered too) but I realized that they were so far gone that the scene that was sure to follow wouldn't be worth my time, and would draw even more attention to their drunken display. Somewhere, the founders of this organization are rolling over in their graves.

These are two perfect examples of why "frat", "frat boy", "frat house", etc will continue to be used in a negative way. Because we allow it. We allow our members to tattoo our letters on their arm and act ridiculous in front of hundreds of people. We allow our members to join a drinking club, and never hold them accountable for anything other than throwing a great party. We allow young men (and young women) to join organizations, go to great parties for four (or five) years, and then graduate without ever being able to articulate the values of their organization. We live up to the stereotypes that we like to complain about. We need to start expecting nothing short of "fraternity man" or "sorority woman". And it can't just be some of us. It needs to be all of us. The women are just as responsible. Until then, the rest of the world will just see us as frat boys living in frat houses. It doesn't matter how great your service project was, or how much money you raised for your philanthropy. Respecting your organization, your ritual, and your values matter. Don't do things to get noticed, do them because they are the right thing to do.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Risk Management for Dummies

(this post is brought to you by Scott Clark, Coordinator of Greek Life, University of Missouri)

We like it.

Risk Management for Dummies:

The Checklist – The New Policy

• You can drink every night of the week, of age or not, with the intent to get blackout drunk.
Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you cannot hold anyone accountable for any injuries, hospital visits or death claims in the event you do not wake up from one of your nights out. 

• You may haze every member, new or active, in the hopes of creating a unified force that stimulates stronger brotherhood/sisterhood.

Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you agree that you cannot use any excuse that would put blame on any member, new or old, for your actions in the court of law. Furthermore, you cannot file a lawsuit or ask for money if you are found guilty in the court of law and sent to jail for your actions. You also agree to demonstrate your hazing activities to your family, friends, and the victims family and friends as well. 

• You are more than happy to degrade members of your organization as well as members of other organizations. It will boost your self-worth.
Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you agree to showcase your actions to your friends, parents, alumni, and national headquarters. Heck, showcase it to the media and news outlets. 

• You are more than welcome to get shitfaced at philanthropies and service events. Why not serve yourself first before you give back to the community?

Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you acknowledge that philanthropic endeavors are worthless and that helping others is a waste of time. 

• Go to class only when you feel necessary. Academics are only a small portion of your collegiate experience.
Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you agree not to hold your friends, fraternity/sorority brothers, alumni, University administrators (faculty or staff), significant others, etc. accountable for your poor academic performance. 

• In your chapter, don’t worry about others, worry about yourself. It is your experience that is important.
Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you agree that you are more important than your pledge class, the chapter, and the national organization. 

• When throwing parties, don’t have any rules. Anything goes at your events. No lists, no security, no laws to follow…you are invincible. 

Disclaimer: By agreeing to this bullet, you agree to be held accountable for any policies broken, you agree to be arrested, you agree to be sued, you agree to go to jail, you agree to go to a funeral in the event of a victim’s death, you agree to speak to the media, you agree to inform news outlets of your “no rules” policy. Finally, you agree to not hold anyone else accountable except for yourself.

This policy was created to provide you as a student with what you wanted. If you agree with these bullet points & disclaimers, please sign below. 




*Disclaimer: This is not a real policy. This is for idiots.

Monday, October 26, 2009


City orders frat vacated after feces, vomit discovered: Health, safety violations keep Pike House closed

A fraternity house that was shut down by the city last week for numerous health and safety violations -- including loose garbage, overflowing toilets and inoperable smoke detectors -- will remain closed until it is brought into compliance with city code… the Pike House, was shut down by Boulder's fire marshal Friday after a technician fixing the house's fire alarm reported seeing abhorrent conditions inside.

…Inspectors found inoperable toilets with feces overflowing onto the floor, a strong smell of urine and vomit throughout the hallways, broken glass and holes punched into the walls.

…Many of the smoke alarms throughout the house weren't working, debris and various objects were blocking exits and there are "electrical issues" that needed to be addressed

Many of our loyal readers may remember previous columns addressing the destruction of hotel rooms by fraternity members. Now, we must really ask, what is up with this? Is this for real? Do these people ever bring guests to their house? Besides the obvious respect for property, sanitation, health, and safety concerns, this is disgusting. Seriously, it’s disgusting.

Many of you may be reading this and thinking of your own houses conditions: “Wow – we only have one toilet that is inoperable but it doesn’t have feces overflowing onto the floor”, or “We’ve had some vomit in the hallways, but it gets cleaned up pretty quickly”, or “Our house only smells like urine a couple days a week”, or “Do we even HAVE any smoke detectors?”. Readers, please realize that we do not make light of this to make you feel better about your chapter house’s current condition, but rather to illuminate the current realities in many chapter houses.

Look at this as a wake up call. You can tell a great deal about a person or an organization by observing the way they live. Maintaining a sanitary, clean, and safe living environment should be the responsibility of every member. If we as chapters do not care for or respect our facilities, why should we expect anyone else to do the same?

All of this is occurring during a time when significant lobbying efforts are being made by many fraternity men and sorority women that will make it easier for organizations to solicit support for improvements to housing infrastructure and life safety devices in chapter houses. While there may not be a direct correlation to those efforts and the situation described above, this experience can not be helpful to those efforts. (You can learn more about these efforts and how you can help at:

We all know and may joke about the “fraternity house smell” and have all been in a chapter house where our feet stick to the floor. Why does this have to be the norm rather than the exception? Fraternities and sororities often expect or demand more respect from their peers, neighbors, faculty members, communities, etc. Why should we expect respect when this is how we treat our facilities, property and live like pigs?

Aguilar, J. (2008, June 11). Boulder orders frat vacated after feces, vomit discovered. The Daily Camera. Retrieved September 5, 2008 from:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Joining a colony vs. joining an established chapter

I am headed home this weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the colonization of my sorority chapter at my undergraduate institution. I am very much looking forward to the celebration, re-connecting with sisters I have not seen since graduation, and meeting the younger women in the chapter. As I think about the upcoming festivities, I reflect on my membership and why I joined my chapter, and I wonder if I would be where I am today if I was not a colony class member.

I was not a "likely joiner" when I arrived on campus, and surprisingly I was the first person in my crazy big extended family to join a Greek-lettered organization. I was intrigued by membership in a new chapter for the experiences, the leadership opportunities, and the ability to shape tradition for women who followed in our footsteps. For some reason, I did not consider that I could gain these very same things in an established chapter on campus. I wonder how many other colony class members out there would not have joined an established organization and missed out on all the benefits of affiliation?

I am continually struck by the number of professionals "in the field" who are colony class members. Is there something different or unique about the colony experience that sparked something in these individuals? Is it simply because a certain type of person is attracted to a colony class, and those same traits make for a great student affairs professional? Or is it something deeper?

Beyond the obvious, what makes a colony class opportunity so attractive for some individuals? How can we highlight or sell those very same opportunities that are available in our already established chapters? What do we need to stop doing in our established chapters in order to attract those members and potential leaders? What scares them away?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keep Your Meetings On Point

Question: What question did I hate as a chapter president?
Answer: Do we have chapter this week?
My Inside Voice: Do we have chapter every week? Then why are you asking me?

We all hate meetings that go too long. Rule #1: Stop doing things that suck. They suck and no one likes it. Long chapter meetings suck. And it all can be avoided if you follow a few good tips.

1. One of the biggest mistakes chapters make is not utilizing the chapter exec meeting in advance. Build your agenda and your game plan in exec. Have an agenda, and stick to it.

2. No "new business" should happen without going through the chapter exec first. You need to train your members on the proper protocol. Not only does this help expedite your chapter meetings, it respects your members time.

3. Every time an officer in the chapter says "no report" you've just told everyone in the chapter they didn't need to be there. Do not allow your exec members to ever say "no report." Another way to say this is - if your chapter officers say "no report" it means they aren't doing anything (a.k.a. their "job").

4. Members should learn new information at chapter. Chapter meetings should be when you learn what's going on. Members should feel left out and behind if they don't attend chapter.

5. Use Parliamentary procedure and Roberts Rules of Order. (Note to self: the person who knows the most Parliamentary procedure controls the meeting)

6. Not everything needs to be said. Good officer handouts with all of the relevant information that are passed out at the meeting make it go faster and ensures all members have the same information. BTW, it means you think off the cuff prepare before the meeting.

You will participate in a million meetings in your lifetime. Many of them will suck because you and others don't know how to run and manage them properly. Learn now. Everyone (including you) will benefit.

P.S. - You're JV if don't learn this now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facebook Tip: That guy/gal (that's in your chapter)

What part of... it's the WORLD WIDE WEB ...don't you get?

I've been trying for some time now to help students understand that what they post on Facebook is often available to anyone and everyone. Anyone.

Well, I've got a new partner in this quest...

An entire new blog of examples of what your parents are doing or saying, that they shouldn't do or say, on Facebook.

Glorious. Spectacular. And incredibly awesome.

If students see how completely ridiculous and unbelievable their parents are - maybe they will get the clue phone text message to understand their own actions.

I now wait impatiently for the next new blog with pictures of fraternity and sorority members doing things and saying things that don't follow their stated values.

And if you are wondering who this message was intended for? To quote my good friend Dave Westol, "pick up the clue's for you."

Hazing exists because you don't care...enough.

So the story goes like this:

Dru: (To the class*) "Raise your hand if you are against hazing."

Laura: (Raises her hand, along with others)

Dru: "No you're not. Because if you really were against hazing, you would be sitting outside of the chapter house in the bushes with a camera."

* graduate course at the University of Maryland taught by Dr. Dru Bagwell - 1995 Robert H. Shafer lifetime achievement award winner - Association of Fraternity Advisors.

While education is always good, eradicating hazing from fraternities and sororities will take more than education.

I invite you to consider if you were really committed to eliminating hazing you would:
  • Increase the legal penalty of hazing in your state.
  • Get official hazing legislation passed in your state, if your state or another doesn't have any.
  • Donate your own money to a cause committed to eliminating hazing.
  • Have a policy that if you participate in hazing you are expelled from school.
We need to stop talking and start doing. Hazing remains because we aren't fully committed to it's total elimination. We use the excuse of "tradition." I find it slightly ironic that the word "tradition" means like in the last few years. Tradition? Really? Like when you were founded tradition? Or more like what you "know" tradition?

Guilty until proven innocent. Maybe we should change how we go about investigation. If a chapter is alleged to be hazing, it should be suspended until it can prove its innocence. If it can't prove it's innocence, it's removed from campus and the charter is taken by the headquarters. This will scare many - but what do you have to worry about if you aren't hazing?

From my experience, regarding hazing - when there's smoke there's fire.

Quit contributing excuses and start working to really eliminate hazing. If you aren't working against it, you're part of the problem.

It's time to take a stand.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Start of Something New

Here it is...the very first Blog post for the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV).  There's a lot new going on with AFLV these days.  Following the consolidation/merger of the Mid-American Greek Council Association (MGCA) and the Western Region Greek Association (WRGA) we have our new name, a name that is truly representative of what and who we are - an association that serves the larger Fraternal market providing services, experiences, and education to enhance the leadership and values oriented skills and knowledge for those we work with.

Our website is new...a whole new build out showcasing news and information about the events and programs of the Association and the larger Fraternal Market.  Get membership information, register for an upcoming event, network with other members sharing ideas and information, and find resources that enhance the work you do on campus to impove and support the fraternal experience.

A new Director of Member Services has been hired to bring all new services an products to our members.  Watch for all the exciting things coming in the next few months.

What's not new?  Our continued commitment to bring you excellence in fraternal programming.  What's not new?  Our ability to produce educational, exciting and inspirational conferences.  What's not new?  Our dedication to the broad and diverse fraternal market including culturally focused councils and chapters, advisors, students, headquarters staff, house directors, the student leaders of campus fraternal organizations, and the companies that serve the larger fraternal market with their products and services.

We hope you enjoy the AFLV blog.  We hope you gain so much from your participation in the larger Association.  We look forward to working with and providing service for our members.  Help us celebrate and rejoice in "The Start of Something New."