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!

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