Monday, December 13, 2010

Best of Busted!

Student hospitalized after hazing

A fraternity’s Wayne State University chapter [is under suspension] and could have its charter revoked following allegations that a 22-year-old pre-medical student was hazed so cruelly he wound up in a hospital for nearly two weeks.

[The student] claims he was required to go to a house in west Detroit for 32 consecutive days, where he says he was administered beatings that sometimes lasted several hours as part of his initiation to become a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

“They would hit me all over,” said [the student]. “They would have me recite information I’d learned about history or whatever, and see how I responded under pressure by hitting me with thick paddles and slamming my body with their hands.”

[The student’s] attorney said he plans to sue the fraternity for the medical bills incurred because of the beatings. The most severe thrashing, [he] said, occurred in the house on March 1, when allegedly dozens of fraternity members from across Michigan assaulted him. Walker said he also was forced to eat dog food.

Later that night, after he’d gone home, [the student] said he was horrified to see that his urine was red. A friend drove him to Annapolis Hospital in Wayne. [He] later was transferred to University Hospital in Ann Arbor, where he was treated for kidney failure, among other injuries. He remained in the hospital for 12 days.

In an interfraternal world where so many students are debating if those matching scrunchies they made their pledges wear are considered hazing, it seems like stories like these should be legends of a bygone era. Not so much.

For the love of Zeus, people. It’s 2010 and we’re still beating people? We’re still using paddles? It’s as if these men lived in the far reaches of Antarctica, not the metropolis of Detroit where surely cable television is available. Because there would have to be some serious ignorance for these men to not know that this is a bad idea. And let’s take a break from all the fraternal values talk for a moment and simply point out that BEATING someone – for any reason – is a bad idea. It’s other things, too. Criminal. Mean. Dangerous. Did we mention criminal?

So what we have here is an incredibly courageous college student who, after being beaten to the point of serious injury, stood up to a group of older men who were abusing their power all in the name of fraternity. We assure you, there is no rationale or reason that wouldn’t make us at Busted! gag. We don’t want to hear about earning letters, or understanding suffering, or any of that business. At the end of the day, these men – whoever they were – committed assault, in our opinion. And we have no time or patience or space for them in our fraternal community.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Have you heard the names Chris Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein, Jose Perez, or Michael Wymbs lately? How about David Wallisch? Each of these men are in the news today, painting two very different pictures of fraternity, and what it means to be a fraternity man.

The first five men are sitting in prison in New York City this morning, accused of selling drugs to their peers. NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley called it, "the biggest drug bust at a college in recent memory." Where were they selling those drugs you ask? Out of the living rooms and bedrooms of their fraternity houses and residence halls of course. The majority of the drug sales of what has been dubbed "Operation Ivy League" took place at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Psi Upsilon. A few of these men even wore their fraternity letters as they got hauled off to jail! Stellar!

David Wallisch is in the news for a different reason. The newly 21 year old junior and member of Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity used his 21st birthday this past weekend to raise money for St. James Place, a community kitchen in Kansas City. Wallisch has been volunteering at St. James place weekly for two years, and felt his birthday was a great opportunity for his friends and family to raise money for a worthwhile cause, rather than buy him a drink. Wallish also baked 200 cupcakes with the help of his fraternity brothers to deliver to St. James this evening when he makes his weekly visit. (For more information on Wallish, or to donate to his cause, click here.)

Two very different stories, and two very different images of fraternity. Sadly, Operation Ivy League is all over the national news today. Wallisch's story made the Kansas City Star, but that is about as far as it will go. This is not the media's fault, this is our fault. We let this happen in our communities and right under our noses in our houses. And we wonder why people have a negative image of fraternity.

If it were up to me, the Columbia University chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Psi Upsilon would be shut down today. Immediately. We don't need to "investigate" this one. I don't care what the other undergraduates have to say, I don't care who the alumni are, and I don't care how expensive the rent is on the houses in NYC. Shut them down. Now. This isn't about one random drug dealer in a house, it's about an environment that allowed him to exist there and financially supported him to make it worth his while. There is no room in the fraternal movement for these men. If you feel the same way, I hope you will share your opinion.

When we take an oath, we agree to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and to hold not only our brothers or sisters to that same standard, but the entire interfraternal community. That means holding your chapter accountable. It means holding other chapters on your campus accountable. It means being accountable as alumni, and as advisors. It is time we all took that more seriously. If you're not interested, then please get out of the way. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Best of Busted!

Police Raid Bucknell Sig Ep fundraiser

Police issued 85 underage drinking citations Friday night, mostly to students, when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (LCB) busted a party held at Big Andy’s Bar & Grill in Milton.

The event fundraiser was called “Pandamonium” and was sponsored by the brothers of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

The number of citations issued “is kind of uncommon,” said Sergeant Jeffrey McGinnis, the LCB officer handling the case.

According to a police report, the management at Big Andy’s had contacted the Milton police to alert them of suspected underage drinking.

“The goal of the event was to raise money to save a panda in China through the Wolong [Nature] Reserve,” said [the chapter’s president].

More than 350 people signed up for the event. Students attending paid a $20 fee in advance and were bused to the party from campus the night of the event.

The University recently implemented a new policy to ban events from being held at Big Andy’s. This ban covers all events that need to be approved by the Dean of Students’ office. The decision was made as part of the University’s “risk-management review” and was “based on information about previous events at that venue,” said Tom Evelyn, director of media relations.

We don’t know about you, but when we think of panda bears, we automatically think of getting drunk! Okay, maybe not, but no one can deny that a large majority of people do, in fact, think of getting drunk when they think of fraternities. There are several things wrong with this picture, but the fact that these students, and thousands of others like them, continually perpetuate the stereotype that Greeks=Drunks while simultaneously ask why it is that Greeks get a bad rap is just the beginning.

Hosting what seems to be a free-for-all alcoholic event with underage students is clearly at the surface of the situation. We can’t think of any new and exciting ways to say it: underage drinking is against the law. It really doesn’t matter if you think the law is stupid, it’s still the law.

Also, what happened to using a little creativity in planning philanthropic events? Collecting a cover at a bar is the easy way out. As far as we’re concerned, this plan was a lazy way to raise money, even in the best-case scenario. The idea of philanthropy is not just shelling out money to a cause. The problem with getting your friends to give you $20 for your chapter philanthropy is that eventually you have to give them $20 for THEIR philanthropy… and that’s not raising money, it’s trading money.

Finally, this event was held at a bar that was recently banned from hosting university events. The article doesn’t say why, but we think it’s safe to assume that this place has a history of serving underage people.

Life really is just a series of decisions; some of those decisions are easy and have little impact on the course of your life, such as ‘shall I have white or wheat bread?’. However, other decisions are difficult and have a much more significant impact on our lives, such as ‘should I use my fake ID?’ or ‘should I drink underage at Big Andy’s?’. Some things are just not worth doing, even if everyone else is – like getting arrested.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Techniques for Managing Depression

This post is a guest blog post from Stanley Popovich, author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity, and Non-Resistant Methods", and a graduate of Penn State University.

Some people have a difficult time in managing their depression. Sometimes, their depression and fears can get the best of them. As a result, here is a short list of techniques that a person can use to help manage their depression.
One of the ways to manage your depression is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make your fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. For example, your afraid that if you do not get that job promotion then you will be stuck at your job forever. This depresses you, however your thinking in this situation is unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that there all are kinds of jobs available and just because you don’t get this job promotion doesn’t mean that you will never get one. In addition, people change jobs all the time, and you always have that option of going elsewhere if you are unhappy at your present location.

Some people get depressed and have a difficult time getting out of bed in the mornings. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do to get their mind off of the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. Doing something will get your mind off of the problem and give you confidence to do other things.
Sometimes, we can get depressed over a task that we will have to perform in the near future. When this happens, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you and your team have to play in the championship volleyball game in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself playing the game in your mind. Imagine that your playing in front of a large audience. By playing the game in your mind, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.
Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that makes you feel good. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever you feel depressed, open up your small notebook and read those statements.
Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Managing your fears and anxieties takes practice. The more you practice, the better you will become.
The techniques that I have just covered are some basic ways to manage your depression, however your best bet is to get some help from a professional.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You're Fired

This past week, several high profile coaches on both the collegiate and pro levels have been relieved of their duties as head football coaches. Some would say their time had come, and that perhaps, they'd been allowed to stay in their roles for too long. Others would say that they should have been allowed to finish the season. After all, it isn't like the teams are going to change overnight either way, right?

As I thought about these coaches, their leadership roles, and the mid-stream transition for their teams, I began to wonder about the parallels between sporting teams and the fraternal world. What if we treated our organizations more like sports teams in this respect? What if we fired our "coaches" mid-stream if the team was not performing well? Do we even fire our coaches at all?

Consider these possibilities:

* What if a chapter was found guilty of hazing several new members by both their national organization and their campus? Once all the information had been obtained, and decisions rendered, the students involved in the hazing, the entire executive board of the chapter, and the advisors were all fired. Permanently removed from the organization.

* What if a chapter held an event where alcohol was served to minors? Once we have the facts, the social chair, social committee, and risk managers, along with the chapter president and advisors are all fired. Permanently removed from the organization.

* What if a chapter came in last academically on campus? Grades were well below the campus average and the national average for their organization. The scholarship chair and his/her committee and advisors are fired. Permanently removed from the organization.

* What if a council failed to hold chapters accountable to campus and national standards? What if they allowed chapters to break social policies, bend academic standards, and disregard hazing laws? The entire council and the campus based advisor are fired. Permanently removed from their organizations.
At this point, you may be thinking I'm crazy. But is it really all that crazy? Our college presidents expect our head football coaches to create high-performing, winning teams, that will bring notoriety to the institution. Do they expect the same of our fraternal organizations? Do we? Should we? Do you know some people who should be fired? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values has teamed up with LoveisLouder to raise the volume around a critical message -- that love and support is more powerful than the external and internal voices that bring us down, cause us pain and make us feel hopeless. We hope you will join us in raising the volume on Tuesday, October 19th. In coordination with the #LoveISLouder campaign, we'd like to share a number of valuable resources.

For more information on dealing with harrasment, depression or suicide, and to view the real stories of people dealing with emotional issues, visit:

Problems bigger than you can handle? Please contact one of the following 24-hour hotlines for help.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline - 1-866-331-9474
  • The Trevor Lifeline (Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth) - 866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
  • Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), press 1
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
  • 24-hour online hotline:
  • Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse) - 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)
  • CDC-INFO (Formerly known as the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotline) - 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
  • Local Authorities - 911
How to call the police:

For more information on these important topics, please check out the sites below.

Dating abuse:
The Safe Space:
Love is not Abuse: 

Digital abuse / cyberbullying:
A THIN LINE (MTV’s digital abuse campaign):
Wired Safety:

Eating disorders:
National Eating Disorders Association:
Hotline: 1-800-931-2237 (8:30am-4:30pm Pacific time)

Girls’ and women’s health:
National Women's Health Information Center:
Hotline: 1-800-994-9662 (Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm)

Mental health and suicide prevention:
Half of Us (mtvU’s mental health campaign):
The Trevor Project provides suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Veterans:

Phone number blocking:
A THIN LINE (MTV’s digital abuse campaign):  (under ‘draw your line’)

Relationships and sexual health:
CDC's National HIV and STD Testing Resources:
It’s Your Sex Life (MTV’s sexual health campaign):
Planned Parenthood:

Sexual assault:
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network:

Social networking sites:
Facebook Safety Center:
MySpace Support:
Twitter Harassment and Violent Threats Policy:

Substance abuse:
MTV’s substance abuse resource page:
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s Facility Locator:

BRAVE (MTV’s veterans resource page):
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best of Busted!

Acting up in Athens, OH: Pi Beta Phi

The Parkersburg Art Center has been compensated by its insurance carrier for damages claimed after an Ohio University sorority formal in March. [The Attorney representing the art center] said the center has been paid $46,555 by the West Virginia Board of Risk and Management for damages done during the March 6 formal by Pi Beta Phi.

Last month, the director of the art center, sent a scathing letter to [the] chapter president of the sorority, saying the group did substantial damage to the facility and engaged in inappropriate behavior, including sexual incidents.

The damage necessitated repairs to the hardwood dance floor, a bathroom, the ballroom ceiling, carpet and baseboard. Beer keg taps were also taken, she said.

[Pi Phi Chapter President] alleged the damages were caused from a food fight and two people attempting to engage in sexual relations in a bathroom. According to the letter, a bartender and members of the catering staff also witnessed sex acts.

"The professional bartender hired for the event personally witnessed a couple engaging in sexual congress while surrounded by a cheering throng," the letter states. "The catering team interrupted two of your members engaging in sexual relations under one of the banquet tables."

The letter also includes claims from a bartender that guests attempted to tear off her clothing and take money from her apron pocket.

"The behavior of your members and their guests in our facility transcends normal student hijinks," [the Director of the art center] said in the letter.

Photographs of the damages were taken a day or two after the event, she said.

Last week the sorority's national office issued a statement to The News and Sentinel stating it would defend itself. The Ohio University Judiciary Office also is reviewing the incident.

The national admitted someone stole keg taps from the center, but other claims were "grossly exaggerated."

"Those charges are based solely on the letter from the art center and a police report. It is important to recognize that the police were not contacted by the art center until a month after the event," the statement said. "The police report simply concludes that the venue's complaints are a civil, not a criminal, matter. We agree." ….

Damages alleged in the police report were from spilled drinks, chewing gum on the carpet and dance floor and a food fight along with the theft of several taps to the beer kegs. The damages exceeded a $1,200 security deposit from the sorority.

For the record, the nearly $50,000 the Art Center was paid in damages will get an out-of-state student nearly two full years of tuition with room and board at Ohio University, according to the University’s Undergraduate Admissions Tuition & Fees web page. Or, for a different perspective, that’s a decent down payment on a half-a-million-dollar house. A SORORITY did enough damage to an ART CENTER to warrant an insurance payout worth TWO YEARS of college. We think that’s worth yelling about, at least a little.

In response to the alleged situation, Ohio University has since placed the Pi Beta Phi chapter on probation with sanctions including financial restitution and community service. Because we don’t think we need to restate how appalling such behavior is, let’s focus on this sanction, shall we? We understand that it can be very, very difficult for the powers that be – whether civil or criminal court or a university conduct system – to prove to the required threshold that a certain behavior occurred without witnessing it personally, we still believe that a) financial restitution should not be something the chapter had to be told to do and b) community service is a crappy, cop-out kind of sanction.

First, community service is a cornerstone of fraternity. The chapter should be doing this anyway. They shouldn’t be told to do it. It should be something we aspire to do, not punishment. What message does that send? Forget sending it to a sorority; let’s talk about the message that sends to college students? If you are bad, you must serve the community. So “good” students shouldn’t’? Ugh. That’s just backwards. We realize we tend to critique here at Busted!, and we don’t want anyone to say we aren’t about solutions.

So, here’s one: instead of sanctioning “community service,” try sanctioning some restorative action. For example, the chapter has to give their time, talent and treasure to improve the Art Center – the actual facility it damaged. Could the Center use some extra hands laying mulch next spring? (And, trust us, laying mulch is good, sweaty, manual labor). If yes, then the Ohio University chapter of Pi Beta Phi should be there with gloves on ready to go. Do they need volunteer docents? Then every Pi Phi should readily give 10 hours a semester to do so. Let’s not let these ladies get away with making a few cards out of construction paper and sending them to senior citizens they’ll never meet to make up for harm they caused live and in person.

Coming Out, Greek Life, & Changing a Nation

It’s rather strange that in the days before National Coming Out Day we are writing and talking about the tragic loss of life. National Coming Out Day was created to celebrate our lives and to celebrate the enthusiasm and cathartic nature of being who we are. It has been twelve years since Matthew Shepard was left to die on a fence outside of Laramie, Wyoming. A decade later, we are now mourning the untimely passing of Tyler, Seth, Raymond, Billy, Cody, Asher, Harrison, Felix, and Caleb- nine young lives that could not see beyond the homophobia and picture a life worth living. Unfortunately, there are many unnamed lives that were taken due to the hate and homophobia along with the nine lives that we are aware of.  Even worse, is there will be more lives in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.  The Trevor Project ( estimates that over ten thousand LGBTIQQ youth will take their own lives within the next year.

We are struck by the complexity of emotion that goes through us with each new suicide and related news stories.  This past month has brought about the dissonance of youth and experience.   If we would have known in our teens what we know now, we might not have been scared, confused or insecure.  We love what being gay and out has brought to our lives - friends, love laughter, peace and family.  To each of the lives lost, we want to shout at the top of our lungs -- "it gets better...what are you doing... just give it a few more days, months or years... we got through it and so will you!"  We often ask ourselves, if we had had an "us or someone like us" when we were growing up, would we be different?  Perhaps we would be less jaded, but we also might be less resilient.

We also know deep down just how they must have been feeling- "the anxiety of a parent or friend finding out...the lonely isolation of not knowing who to talk to...not being able to trust all of my friends with this secret...and trying to find just that one person who understands." Many of us within our community have felt this lonely and unworthy, especially as we were coming to terms with our identity no matter what age we are when we come out. We got through it and we have danced onto the other side and celebrated. But we have forgotten to turn around and reach back offering a shoulder or hand to those who are struggling. We have moved on without offering as much as an ear to listen or a nod to acknowledge the pain. We need to support each other through all of our times, not just the highs and the lows, but each and every day. Isn’t this what we all learned during our member education process?

This past month Campus Pride ( released the “2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People” which included 5,149 participants (LGBTIQQ students, faculty, staff, and administrators) representing over two thousand campuses in all fifty states. The report discovered that LGBTIQQ students, faculty, and staff remain at significantly higher risk, compared with their heterosexual and gender conforming counterparts, for harassment on our colleges and universities. Participants reported that much of the neglect or overt hostility and harassment they experience on college and university campuses comes directly from professors and staff employees, and also from adult members within the off-campus community. Participants often claimed that, overall, their institutions are doing little or nothing to improve conditions.

Complacency and inaction demonstrates acceptance! Suicide and harassment can be prevented! Action is necessary from all levels of the community!

Greek Life has historically demonstrated the values and tradition of leadership that have often been used to eradicate hate and bias. Brothers and Sisters have bonded together in the spirit of community service and philanthropy in hopes of changing the campus community and make it a better place for all. The energy and drive that Greeks bring to any culture change is dynamic and contagious. During this time, Greek Life is more important than ever in helping us all improve the campus climate into becoming more inclusive then ever. For each of us, Greek Life has been an important and critical support in our lives. Our Brothers and Sisters continue to lift us on their shoulders and fights for our place at the table. In the past ten-plus years, the four of us have been given so much by so many Greeks that we cannot begin to imagine our lives without our Brothers and Sisters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s program (, Teaching Tolerance, is offering a free video on bullying ( - perhaps this could start conversations where you live. The key here is to not assume that someone else is going to do something- the key here is that Greeks can and should do something. We are the best tool we have to start conversations and enact change. Greeks do this every day!

As we travel around the country speaking to college students, staff, faculty, and community members we see a lot - pain, guilt, fear, anger, apathy, energy, organizing, fundraising, and paralysis. We have also witnessed the power of Greek Life making the changes on campus by co-sponsoring LGBTIQQ events; standing beside and in front of gay Brothers and lesbian Sisters when anyone makes derogatory comments; supporting those members who have just come out; and challenging the administration to become more inclusive. We do not have any more time to waste. What will you and your organization do?

Jessica Pettitt, Sister of Delta Gamma, Social Justice Educator, LGBTIQQ Advocate, and speaker with Kirkland Productions

Shane Windmeyer, Brother of Phi Delta Theta, Executive Director of Campus Pride and speaker with CAMPUSPEAK, Inc.

Bil Leipold, Brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Associate VP at Rutgers University, LGBTIQQ Educator and speaker with The College Agency

Dr. Joe Bertolino, Brother of Delta Sigma Phi, VP of Student Affairs at Queens College, LGBTIQQ Educator and speaker with The College Agency

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Happening Now

This week's post is a guest post from Jessica Pettitt, a nationally-known speaker on a variety of topics and founder of I am... Social Justice.

I have gotten 5 phone calls this fall from campus professionals needing assistance on reacting to a trans student joining a chapter or registering to go through formal recruitment. The NCAA reports receiving over 30 requests for guidance in dealing with trans athletes. Trans students, faculty, staff, and alumni happen – and it is happening now. Trans inclusion is a new concept for most campuses and even those that have gone as far as to add gender identity and expression into their non-discrimination policies haven’t done much since then. Even the most progressive campuses still have acts of violence, bias, hate, etc. Much like racism isn’t over, homophobia, heterosexism, sexism, etc., are alive and well. The conversation that needs to take place is how do these realities impact our campus climate and the fraternal movement.

Single gendered organizations are by definition groups of members based on the conflation of sex and gender. Title IX codes were developed to provided equal access for female/women in response to male/men inequitable funding. The inconsistent applications of sex and gender have made gender designation significantly more complicated than it should be. In response to this complication, some single gendered organizations have created definitions of the sex/gender requirements or expectations based on hormone levels or chromosomal make up of an individual. A new NCAA report recommends that trans athletes are able to perform based on hormone levels while also being able to identify and express their gender separately. The fraternal movement needs to contemplate these complications and develop a similarly simple policy.

For example, a student athlete can identify as a man, use male pronouns, have XX chromosomes, and not pursue a testosterone therapy treatment and compete on a women’s team. If this student does pursue testosterone therapy, he can request an exemption from NCAA and perform on a men’s team. A transwoman (a person labeled male at birth and XY chromosomes) student athlete can compete on a men’s team or after a year of testosterone blockers and/or estrogen hormone therapy, she can compete on a women’s team. Trans folks taking hormones regularly have their estrogen/testosterone levels checked, but like non-trans, or cisgendered, folks, rarely have their chromosomes checked. Cisgendered men and women rarely have their hormone levels checked unless they are experiencing fertility or menopausal concerns. My question to the NCAA, and to all of us within the fraternal movement is - are we willing to set policies based on blood tests? If so, all members (active and alumni) would need to be tested. We could also trust and respect how an individual identifies themselves and allow for someone to develop through membership to be themselves?

These questions, lead me and an intern, Sarah Fielding, to write a Trans Resource Guide for Fraternities and Sororities: Beginning the Conversation found at . We gathered narratives from trans students that contemplated going through recruitment, joined Panhellenic, IFC, and NPHC organizations, and alumni that are still actively involved with their chapters and campuses. Please read these with the respect they deserve. Due to the climate, names, institutions, and Greek organizations have been changed to offer anonymity to the authors. The voices included in this resource guide are from lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, and queer, students of color, gender queer students, transmen, transwomen, advisors, faculty, staff, current undergraduate students, graduate students, active alumni, and de-pledged sisters and brothers from local and national fraternities and sororities on small, medium, and large research institutions within the United States. We also pulled together a lot of resources to help support the trans advocates that are doing GREAT work within chapters, organizations, and on campus.

Gamma Alpha Omega, a NALFO affiliated sorority, contacted me over a year ago when a chapter wanted to extend membership to a transwoman. The chapter turned to the national leadership for guidance. After a long process of education and conversations, GAO now includes gender identity/expression to their non-discrimination policy. Kappa Delta Chi and Omega Delta Phi have followed suit. Even with a more inclusive non-discrimination policy in place – there is still a lot of work to do for members. I don’t think answers can be developed until the conversation is started.

Now what? Thank you for your work and in advance for starting this conversation. If you are interested in joining in for a one hour free webinar on trans inclusion within the fraternal movement, feel free to visit

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Busted: Stupid T-Shirt Decisions

This is a guest blog post from Ryan Hilperts, Director of AFLV Awards & Assessment, and a member of the Connections Magazine Editorial Board. 

Usually the Busted! features take a moment to point out our less-than-stellar brethren who have found themselves on the front page of the newspaper for their poor choices. But let's not forget there are other ways to have our stupidity captured!  We still have those among us who are making poor choices, and the only folks documenting it are the 2,783 people around with cell phone cameras. It’s tough to decide whether that's better than the newspaper...or not.

What can we say? When poor choices are made in the name of fraternity, we get a wee bit cranky. And we aren’t much to forgive and forget. We also think there is value in learning from others’ mistakes.

This is one such opportunity.

In case you can’t read it clearly, the shirt on the right says, “The University might have f----d us, but at least we don’t f--- each other.” Conveniently, the fraternity supplied its nickname and the year the shirt was made for historical purposes. Thanks for that.

It seems that this particular chapter may have been held accountable for some stupid behavior (poor choice(s)) by the University. It also seems that they’re less than pleased about that. Further, we think their point is that being in trouble – to whatever extent that is for these gentlemen – is less bad than other things they could be doing. We think. Maybe. Or they’re just raging homophobic folks who decided to put that fact on a t-shirt. Could be both.

It doesn’t matter when or why or how the fraternity got to a place where they decided to make these t-shirts. Not an ounce. Because here they are, live and in color.

Us Busted! folks have seen a lot of fraternity and sorority t-shrits gone wrong in our day. We may even have played a round of "I Can Beat That" with other fraternity/sorority professionals while talking about t-shirt designs we’ve seen. Yet this completely takes the cake. Do we need to point out the eleventy seven ways it’s wrong? Really? And what about the company that took money from these men and printed them right up, lickety split? We’d like a word with them too, pretty please.

The whole batch of shirts should be tossed in the middle of that Greek Week bonfire held after the all-Greek BBQ that is oh-so-good at solving all of our Greek unity problems. Pour on the gasoline. Use an extra match, or seven.

For the record, we don’t care if every single other fraternity and/or sorority on this campus wore shirts that day that SCREAMED values and integrity. Don’t care if they were glow-in-the dark or included every sequin the Radio City Rockettes have to offer. This one easily would have canceled all of that out.  Hmmmm....wonder where all those negative stereotypes about fraternities and sororities come from?... Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can we please stop talking about hazing?

Rick Barnes is a member of the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values Board of Directors, a member of the CAMPUSPEAK speakers roster, and President of Rick Barnes Presents. We thank him for his guest blog post this week for National Hazing Prevention Week.

I remember when I first started thinking about joining something called a fraternity. I’m a first-generation fraternity member in my family - my parents were not in one of these organizations. I thought it looked fun. The parties were great, the presence on campus was huge, the commitment to one-another appeared solid and really looked like something I would want to be a part of. But there were a few things that made me second-guess any desire to join. One of those was hazing.

I graduated from high school as a three-letter athlete and as class president. I had great grades, had that girlfriend I thought would last forever (and she did for about three months...but that was forever back then). I didn’t need fraternity. I just thought it looked like fun. But, one thing I wasn’t willing to put up with was hazing. Not by anyones definition. Even as a freshman in college I was aware of the issue. I’m not sure I knew the word hazing...I just knew I wasn’t willing to put up with someone screaming at me, making me do things I didn’t want to do, treating me abusively, or any of that. I thought the fraternity and sorority community looked like a lot of fun, but I wasn’t about to be willing to let anyone haze me. And I challenge anyone to suggest that I am any less a fraternity man because I was willing to say no.

Looking back, I am so thankful I finally decided to join a fraternity. I can readily admit the decision to join has impacted every area of my life - my personal and professional life. It was absolutely one of the best decisions I ever made. We are phenomenal organizations - doing some of the best things on college campuses. But despite all of that...despite all the great we do...we’re still not good enough to be able to get away with hazing!

I’ll admit it - I don’t understand hazing. Either side of it. I don’t understand how you can be a big enough bully to do it to someone else, but I also don’t understand how big a wimp you have to be to allow it to happen to you. But to make it even worse, I don’t understand how organizations like fraternities and sororities can be labeled with this one. Organizations composed of “brothers” and “sisters” who have committed to a lifelong membership in organizations who espouse to high values and standards. And then we get tagged with the stereotype of hazing?! Or is it really even a stereotype? No, doesn’t seem to be. In fact, it happens. Way too often! I think it’s time we quit calling it a stereotype and start calling it a fact so that we can acknowledge its presence enough to actually do something about it.

Please don’t try to defend it as a good thing. Hazing is no longer one of those moral or ethical topics. In most states it’s against the law. To suggest that it is a good thing...or to suggest that it has a place in fraternity is suggesting a blatant violation of the law.

Okay - so what is it? The policies are often hard to interpret. They include words like demeaning, degrading and disgracing. They tell us we can’t cause bodily harm, offensive punishment or pain. We aren’t supposed to cause psychological harm or hinder a students academic efforts. So what is it? Seems to me the policies are simply saying folks should treat one another as friends and with respect and dignity. Or, another way to say it - I think the policies are simply saying we should treat each other as brothers and sisters. How can fraternity and sorority members argue with that? We claim that responsibility in our purpose. How we complain that we might be singled out or held to a higher standard on this issue. Isn’t that exactly what we want?

So can I offer this suggestion - can we please stop talking about hazing? Can we - as fraternity and sorority members - please stop complaining and arguing and suggesting that it’s not fair? Can we please just do what we said we would do - raise the standards and live to higher values. Why can’t we just step up and be the leaders we say we are? If hazing takes place at all, let’s let this one be someone else’s issue.

My #NHPW Pledge

As you are all well aware by now, this week is National Hazing Prevention Week. It is an important week to shine the spotlight on the dangers of hazing, and the ways in which each of us can make a difference, in both large and small ways. It seems like this year, we've been talking about hazing a lot lately, thanks to hazing in professional sports and other areas that has been in the news and made the way around social media circles. Unfortunately, we've had a lot of talk, and not a lot of action.

I began #NHPW with a trip to see the Cowboys and Bears play in Arlington, Texas on Sunday. I could spend time arguing for or against my decision. Just like hazers can and will provide you with a million reasons why hazing is positive for their chapter. But that would be a waste of your time and mine. While watching the game, and taking in the spectacle that is the new Cowboys Stadium (it really is something to see), I thought about all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game, and the ability to reach those 85,000 plus people in that stadium, and in other stadiums across the country. What if, instead of the silly games players hosted from the ginormous screen, we had messages about the dangers of hazing instead? What if the players themselves sent the message that hazing was wrong, and harmful? How impactful could that be?

Over the past 48 hours, I've reflected on this topic more, and read some great #NHPW thoughts from a number interfraternal leaders about their perspectives on hazing. This of course lead to more thinking. I've been quick to criticize the NFL, ESPN, and other pro-sports teams for allowing, and in some cases even promoting hazing behavior. I was quick to call Lady Antebellum on the carpet for their "Lady Hazes" series on their website and blog. But have I worked with any fraternity or sorority chapters or councils lately on combating hazing here at home in our own backyard? No. I haven't. Have you?

It is always easier to call others out, and hold them accountable for their actions. It is usually easier than paying attention to or fixing our own problems. What if we focused on ourselves for a while, made some strides, and then went out and challenged others to live up to a higher standard. Wouldn't our message be more powerful? Individually, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the issue, bury our head in the sand, and go about our work. Collectively, we are a powerful force. It just takes one student in a chapter who is willing to speak up, and someone who is willing to support them in that process. I can do that.

My #NHPW pledge this year is to focus on us. On our chapters, councils, and campuses that support and enable hazing behaviors. I could spend my time writing e-mails and challenging other groups to make a change in their behavior, but I truly believe it will be more powerful once we have made a change ourselves. Wouldn't it be cool if in 10 years, hazing is a distant memory, and we have hundreds of organizations, thousands of chapters, and millions of members who are proud of their values based organizations? How have you reflected on hazing this week? What will you commit to doing differently? Will you join me?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Supporting Multicultural Organizations

In conjunction wtih the most recent issue of Connections Magazine, focused on Cultural Greeks this week's blog post is a guest post from Gary Ballinger. Gary is a member of Phi Delta Theta and works in Alumni Relations at Indiana State University. He is also serves a member of the AFLV CFL/NBGLC Planning Team, and has held a number of volunteer and professional roles in Fraternity/Sorority Life during his career. If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, contact .

Over the course of my career in Fraternity/Sorority advising I have been asked thousands of questions from students, family, parents, administrators, and even strangers on a plane. For the most part the questions are pretty innocuous and it’s easy to answer in thoughtful ways even the inevitable, “So you just plan parties?” question. But the questions that have always irritated me have been ones that I’ve received from my fellow advising professionals (along with inquisitive looks): “Why are you so involved with multicultural organizations? You aren’t (insert any cultural/ethnic identity here) are you?”

Those questions have always bothered me, but I have usually answered with the stock response of “it’s about remaining culturally competent in our profession, serving the needs of all of our students, and supporting student organizations with a strong cultural identity and focus.” The answer I wish I would have given is: “Why aren’t you?”

There are number of observations that I’ve made about our profession and the way that we advise cultural organizations on campus…and to be honest the results aren’t always that great.

Advisors are uninformed. Undoubtedly we are shaped by our undergraduate experiences and the majority of professional advisors come from a traditional NIC or NPC experience. Those valuable experiences have given them insight into the workings of their organizations, but often result in a narrow view of the fraternal world. We need to encourage and promote opportunities for advisors to educate themselves on an undergraduate student experience through the cultural identity lens. Sometimes it’s difficult to admit when we don’t know how to work with a student or student group, but you must learn to admit it, utilize your students and other professionals as resources and educate yourself. You cannot be timid or afraid of admitting your faults…it is truly the only way you will grow.

Advising is delegated. Intentionally or not, advisement of Multicultural Greek Councils, Asian Pacific Islander Councils, National Pan-Hellenic Councils, or Latino Greek Councils is often delegated to a graduate assistant. While this opportunity can be very important for a graduate experience the graduate assistant may not have the wealth and breadth of experience (or time) that a full time professional staff member could devote toward a council. Often times, professional advisors put the time, energy, and money into where the majority of their student membership is based and that has been with traditional IFC or Panhellenic Associations. Advisors need to shift the way that they view advising on their campus and devote an equal amount of time to cultural based organizations and their councils.

Advisors are scared. I’ve been a part of many conversations about advisement of cultural organizations and I sometimes get a sense of fear from Caucasian Advisors. I’ve tried for years to figure out where this fear comes from and why some advisors do not hold their cultural greek letter organizations to the same standards. Unfortunately, I’ve heard one too many advisor comment that they “don’t want to be labeled a racist” when they confront issues with the cultural greek organizations on their campus. If you hold all organizations on campus to the same standard, are consistent with your decisions, fair, and reasonable there is no reason to have this fear.

Prestige. Let’s face it how much time at conferences does everyone sit around and share their “horror stories?” There are the constant comparisons of how much time you put in the office, how many meetings you have a week, how late you stay in the office, and all the weekends you spend alone at your desk. For whatever reason, all of these things have developed into sense of prestige in our profession. That prestige also carries over to the councils and organizations you work with on campus. I believe that it is seen as more advantageous to advise the “big councils” which are made up of our NIC and NPC groups. Focus some time and energy on the things that matter, take some time to really get to understand the needs of your cultural greek letter community. You might be surprised how easy it is to impact the community/council in positive ways.

Separation. On campuses with so much going on advisors are spread pretty thin. Having separate councils, executive board meetings, council meetings, new member symposiums, retreats, president’s meetings, etc. add to this burden. Look at your councils’ training and meeting schedule and see if there are ways that you can consolidate and provide the same training for all organizations and councils at one time. I’m surprised at how many campuses have separate executive retreats for each council, and then constantly complain that the councils don’t communicate or interact with one another. Build those expectations for communication and community building from the beginning of their experience…it’s part of your responsibility.

Ultimately we are responsible to our students and our campuses and should strive to give them an equitable amount of our time, energy and talent. It is the responsibility of each of us to ensure that we are able to educate ourselves on the needs of cultural greek organizations and the students involved in them. You should devote as much time to the understanding and development of a cultural greek organization as you do to other aspects of your job. You shouldn’t be asking me, “Why are you so involved with multicultural greek organizations?” You should be asking yourself, “Why aren’t I?”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Final Straw

Over the past few months, we've seen a spike in coverage of hazing and hazing related activities in professional sports and other areas. Many have posted great blogs about the topic and calls to action for the fraternal movement. I have spent many early morning runs pondering the topic, and wondering what we could be doing differently. I've avoided adding another blog to the pile, mostly because I wasn't sure I had anything different or unique to say. That is, until this morning.

I'm a fairly frequent Twitter user, and follow several hundred fellow Tweeters (or Twitters as Betty White would call them...). This morning, one of my favorite country bands, Lady Antebellum (@ladyantebellum) posted the following tweet:

"Lady Hazing is back!! The latest victim is big, bad @blakeshelton. Check out the new Webisode and sing along here:"

Really? When did hazing become so cool across the board? It is because of the social media explosion over the past few years? Or has it always been around and we just haven't noticed it because we didn't used to have so much constant contact with others through Twitter, FB, etc?

I've felt somewhat helpless about the whole situation for the past few weeks, as more professional sports teams and ESPN pile on more fuel to the problem. And I'm not quite sure where to start. I'm pretty sure that ESPN won't miss me as a single viewer, especially since I tune in so infrequently. I'm fairly confident most professional sports teams won't miss my ticket sale, since I don't catch that many games. I don't think Lady A will miss me at their next concert.

So what can I do? What can you do? What can we do together? Clearly we aren't doing enough. I think it is time to get the dialogue really started - with lots of voices participating in the conversation. Signing petitions is a good start - many of us have done that over the past few weeks. But I think we need to do more. Individually and collectively. It is time to make a bigger dent, and with the beginning of a new semester, the time is right. Start throwing out your ideas. Think big, broad, and bold. Challenge yourself, and challenge others.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best of Busted!

10 CU Delta Chi Pledges Arrested After Motel Rooms Damaged

“Boulder’s Delta Chi Fraternity has been placed on suspension after 10 pledges were arrested over the weekend in Estes Park on suspicion of causing up to $10,000 in damage to two Super 8 Motel rooms. Estes Park police were called to the motel about 2:30 am Sunday and found large holes in the walls of two connected rooms, blood and vomit everywhere, destroyed furniture and a coffee pot filled with urine, according to a police report. Officers said that all the University of Colorado students were underage and suspected to have been drinking alcohol. There were arrested on suspicion of felony criminal mischief and underage drinking...Officers said they collected cell-phone cameras that the suspected vandals used to capture pictures and video of the trashed rooms.”

This is the second issue in a row that Busted has featured significant damage to a hotel room by fraternity men. Coincidentally, both incidents have occurred in the state of Colorado. What is going on in Colorado? Is trashing a hotel room a strange rite of passage for young men, or is someone pumping stupid into the water? Seriously folks, why is this ok?

Later damage estimates list the damage at $20,000. A quote from the hotel manager that states some of the students have expressed their remorse and that their parents are willing to pay the costs of the damage. Yes, your eyes did not deceive you, some, if not all of the parents are willing to pay for the damage that their sons did to this motel. What’s up with parents? These guys should be grounded! While this Busted goes out to the students involved, unfortunately, their parents must be included in this because of their willingness to pay for the damage.

As for those cell phones that were confiscated by the police, it seems that they may have had some photos of the damage. They are not attached to anyone’s Facebook profile, but instead, they are right next to the mug shots of 9 of these 10 new members. You can find them online without too much effort. We did.

Miller, V. (2008, February 20). Delta Chi could have to re-recruit after arrests. The Daily Camera. Retrieved March 5, 2008 from:

Miller V. (2008, February 19). 10 Delta Chi Pledges Arrested in Estes Park. Retrieved March 5, 2008 from:

(20, February, 2008). Destroyed motel room leads to frat pledges arrest. Retrieved March 5, 2008 from:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Success Requires Support

This post is a guest blog post from Chad Pfister. Thanks Chad! We are always looking for guest bloggers. If you are interested, send a sample blog to

When I am thinking about examples to use for successful teams for organizations to model themselves after two teams come to mind, Manchester United and US Postal Service Cycling Team. These two teams are perfect at demonstrating how distinct individuals each with their own unique talents can come together for a common good. Even better is the fact that both teams include the stars of their respective sport but without the daily support of their teammates their greatness was almost unachievable. In fact, Lance Armstrong never could have won seven Tour de Frances without the support and effort that his teammates put in for him.

All too often in our organizations we forget about this basic premise that our leaders and stars need our support on a daily basis. Instead we tend to support our leaders at the beginning of their journey and then at some point along the way we make the determination that they are doing a good enough job and that they do not need our full attention and support anymore.

How wrong that assertion is. Regardless of how good of a job you might think a particular leader is doing, there is always room for improvement and improvement can only happen when the entire team is on the same page supporting their leader and each other.

Imagine what would happen if after the 3rd stage of the Tour de France Lance's team stopped helping him or if the Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes decided after 15 minutes that they didn't need to pass the ball to Wayne Rooney anymore. As a fan you would be livid and screaming at the television for everyone to work together. But how come when we see this same sort of situation in our own organizations we sit by the wayside. When we see this going on we should be standing up and pointing out the lack of teamwork, so as to not fail our organization and our fellow members and leaders.

We all join organizations for a reason and that normally is because we want to be part of something bigger that believes in the same ideals as our own. So each time we fail to support our leaders and stars of our organizations we fail our organization and ourselves. The only way that an organization can truly have success is for the members to support one another in everything that they do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Best of Busted!

UNL Suspends Sigma Chi Fraternity for 4 Years

Sigma Chi fraternity, facing a pair of lawsuits and charges of repeated hazing in the last academic year, has been suspended from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for four years.

But given the troubles plaguing Sigma Chi - two lawsuits alleging hazing, a police search that uncovered large quantities of alcohol in the fraternity house and hazing or alcohol charges against nine of its members - strict punishment is warranted, [the vice chancellor] said.

[The vice chancellor] said he hopes to send two messages with the suspension: "One, the university is very serious about the potential violations and will not tolerate them. And two, that we really do have a strong Greek system. The vast majority of our chapters are very, very good."

[The vice chancellor] said university leaders considered a wide range of punishments for Sigma Chi - including expulsion - but ultimately decided to give the fraternity another chance.

Plus, he said, not all fraternity members were violating university policies… "Unfortunately, a few ruined it for all."

UNL police began investigating Sigma Chi earlier this year after a former pledge came forward and claimed he had been subjected to repeated hazing from fall 2008 to early 2009.

The pledge said he had been verbally assaulted, paddled, forced to drink alcoholic concoctions until he vomited and made to participate in humiliating activities with other pledges, such as one in which they leap-frogged each other through the fraternity house while being pelted with ice and wet paper towels.

The pledge also alleged he had been sexually assaulted by a female stripper during an off-campus party. [Although] sexual assault charges won't be filed in the case.

In a search of the house in March, UNL police uncovered evidence to support hazing allegations as well as a large amount of alcohol, even though UNL is a dry campus.

The search led to hazing and procuring charges against nine Sigma Chi members. Six of them have been convicted; the others are working their way through the court system.

Now, a group of local fraternity alumni have stepped forward to help the fraternity get back on the right track. They will serve in an informal capacity, providing guidance, advice and support as needed.

Trust us, we are just as annoyed as you are. This is the same old story. When will people learn? When will people realize that leap-frogging while being pelted with ice cubes is hazing? And, if we may be so blunt, it’s silly and preposterous. We know that people tend to do stupid things when others are also doing them, but we were thinking more along the lines of wearing knit ponchos or legwarmers.

While this may seem obvious to most reasonable people, the article indicates that this suspension means Sigma Chi will not be recognized and no one will be allowed to live or hold activities in the fraternity house. UNL’s vice chancellor for student affairs said that the sanctions are the toughest imposed on a UNL fraternity in recent memory. We agree, it’s a tough one… but… it’s not so tough that it can’t be reversed. The suspension could be lifted after two years if the fraternity's Alumni Board successfully crafts a plan to ensure compliance with UNL's Student Code of Conduct and regular house inspections. We call shenanigans on this: so, what you’re saying is that crafting a plan to comply with the Code of Conduct (a.k.a DOING WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO) can get a hazing chapter off the hook?

Also, why do people feel as though they need to say things like ‘a few bad apples ruined it for the whole bunch’? This is obvious, and what happens all of the time; it’s part of being affiliated with a group. As far as we’re concerned a person should not affiliate with a group that has strict behavior guidelines if they don’t think they’re able to adhere to them… on the flip side, we shouldn’t invite members to join our organizations (or allow them to remain affiliated) if they’re going to act like jerks. Pointing out that ‘not all Sigma Chi’s are hazers’ is nice and all… but everyone already knows that. Plus, validating the fact that most Sigma Chi’s aren’t hazing jerks doesn’t fix the fact that this one in particular happens to be one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top 10 Party Schools

At the beginning of this week, the Princeton Review released their annual list of the top "Party Schools" in the nation. After doing a little bit of digging, I learned that "Major Frat and Sorority Scene" is one of the top qualifiers for this prestigious designation. Hmm.

Let's look at the list of schools:

1. University of Georgia

2. Ohio University

3. Pennsylvania State University

4. West Virginia University

5. University of Mississippi

6. University of Texas

7. University of Florida

8. University of California

9. University of Iowa

10. DePauw University

Do the fraternity/sorority systems on these campuses help to promote the party school image, or are they actively working against said image? Do we care? As a larger community, what does it say when our "scene" is one of the major factors in the Princeton Review's rankings? What if the top 10 party schools were schools without any fraternities or sororities on campus? What if?

What if the Princeton Review started ranking campuses with the best fraternity and sorority systems? My definition of best, by the way, would be values in action, high academic standards, service to the community, and making the world a better place. What if? What if those rankings also included the 10 worst campuses when it comes to a thriving and active fraternity/sorority system? What if?
What are your thoughts? I'd love to see your comments below, or on our Facebook Fan Page.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hazing: Double Standard?

This is a guest blog post from Travis Smith, Associate Director of Student Activities at Colorado School of Mines. Thanks to Travis for sharing his thoughts with us this week! If you are interested in sharing a guest blog post, contact

This post started in my head this weekend as I finally sat down to watch the last few episodes of Deadliest Catch in which they were paying tribute to Captain Phil Harris who passed away of a stroke while filming the show. During one of the three amazing and emotional shows they dedicated to him, one of the other captains made an analogy that stood out to me. In referencing the “greenhorns,” or first year crew, earning respect and their place on the boat as a “full share guy,” he claimed that the whole crew has to go through something together in order to earn each other’s trust, respect, and eventual friendship. I took particular note because he did not say that the 1st year guys needed to perform menial and meaningless tasks in order to earn respect; they had to prove themselves alongside their peers on the boat, rather than to them. Some of the toughest men in the world, doing one of the deadliest jobs in the world do not find the need to haze new members of their crew. The new members simply learn every aspect of the boat and work hard to earn their place as “full share.”

This week, a story on the news caught my ear and frankly pissed me off a little. Dez Bryant used to make me sick with all of his arrogance and ego but I found myself proud of him yesterday for the most astonishing reason. Maybe it was bravado, maybe it was Dez being Dez, but he stood up and refused to let a senior member of the Dallas Cowboys team (Roy Williams) haze him. "I'm not doing it," Bryant said. "I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player's pads." How does carrying another player’s pads make Dez a better football player or even a better teammate if it is not for sincere reasons?

What really made me feel a little sick was the reaction of many of the reporters to this story. Herm Edwards said “just go along with it, get it over with.” Mike Golic said too many idiotic things to count in his two minute tirade this morning on “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” defending the hazing that occurs in the NFL. Reporters are calling it a right of passage and titles like “Dez says no to (innocent) hazing,” and “Dez Bryant refuses chores of a lowly rookie” make Dez out to be the bad guy for doing the right thing.

Of course the right thing seems to be in debate in the American public if you look at popular opinion polls on At the time of writing this (after my vote of course) the ESPN polls stood at 64% for, and 36% against on the question of “Should Dez Bryant have carried Roy Williams’ shoulder pads?” What I found fascinating was that with the exception of Arizona (76% for), Alabama (66% for), and New Mexico (65% for) every state south of the Mason-Dixon line was under the average. In fact only 3 states were anti-hazing in the poll, Wyoming with 3 of 4 respondents against, Vermont (2 of 3), and Delaware (2 of 3).

"Everybody has to go through it," Williams said. "I had to go through it. No matter if you're a No. 1 pick or the 7,000th pick, you've still got to do something when you're a rookie. I carried pads. I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn't want to be that guy." In fashion typical of hazer logic, Dez’s refusal to participate in a meaningless “tradition” may lead the hazing to become more severe as Williams threatened to take things to “step two,” possibly stealing his credit cards and wracking up charges, or as some have suggested, duct taping him to a pole. Sounds like the kind of behavior I want my kids to see portrayed by their idols.

Let’s re-imagine this story to include the modern college fraternity/sorority. A new member (aka pledge) refuses to get his/her head shaved, and carry books across campus for an older “established” member. The next day that student is found duct taped to a pole on campus. The story gets out and who looks like the bad guy in this scenario: the fraternity/sorority of course. I wonder what those online polls would show had the story had been flipped in this way. I always thought that celebrities and athletes were supposed to be held to a higher standard than other people. Popular culture and the media continue to glamorize hazing in sports but condemn it in Fraternity/Sorority life. What makes this double standard exist?

Luckily, thanks to Facebook posts and conversations that have popped up like wildfire, I know that I am far from unique in my thought processes. Though polls may not show it I know that there are a lot of people out there that are fighting the good fight, from students to senior level administrators on college campuses, professional organizations and groups like that exist to bring this issue to a close. Keep fighting the good fight Dez!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best of Busted!

URI Phi Kappa Psi expelled on drug, destruction violations

A fraternity has been ejected from the University of Rhode Island under a “three strikes and you’re out” policy following a December raid in which a 20-year-old student was charged with a felony count of drug dealing.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is banished for 18 months and cannot reoccupy its chapter house for four years, said URI’s vice president for student affairs.

University police, assisted by South Kingstown officers, entered the house with a search warrant at 4 a.m. December 5. The police said they found a locked safe in a closet.

The police pried open the safe, the report said, after [the student] refused to disclose the combination. Inside, they found 100 grams of marijuana, miscellaneous pills, two scales, a 16-gigabyte iPod, $130 in cash and what they described as a drug ledger.

In November the fraternity was found in violation of URI policies on substance abuse and destruction of property, which included holes punched in the walls, furniture destroyed and glass bottles smashed in the shower and bathroom.

The president of the Interfraternity Council at URI said the action was appropriate. “The events that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house … stand against the values and beliefs shared by the Greek community,” he said.

For those who are screaming “Personal use!” or are thinking, “100 grams?! Come on, that doesn’t seem like that much, give the guy a break!”, let us break it down for you: 100 grams is about 3.5 ounces. In case you didn’t know, an ounce of weed is about enough to fill a plastic sandwich bag and costs between $300-$400 depending on where you are, who you know, and how ‘good’ the weed is. Also, in case you didn’t know, most recreational marijuana smokers buy weed by the eighth of an ounce. This means that this guy had enough pot to sell to 28 people. So, the article doesn’t say this, but we can do the math: this guy had between $1050 and $1400 worth of marijuana in his safe. Either way you look at it, that’s a lot of pot, even if you’re that guy from Pineapple Express.

Okay, we get the fact that lots of (dare we say most?) people have smoked pot once or twice… even our current President has admitted to it. So, although there isn’t as much of a stigma around recreational marijuana use as there used to be, you still can’t sell it… especially out of your fraternity house! We realize that college is expensive, but there are lots of other ways to make some extra cash.

In addition to the fact that selling marijuana is illegal, we still have our fraternity values hiding behind the door… (Oh! Here they are! Silly old values, always sneaking up on us!) According to the Phi Kappa Psi website, one part of the fraternity’s mission states this:

“The Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity is an association of men of integrity who strive to develop the individual in his intellect, in his involvement in the community, and in his faith.”

The fraternity’s vision includes the following language:

“The Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity is committed to bettering individuals in order to improve society. To that end, we strive to provide undergraduate members with the opportunity to get as much out of their campus experience as possible, while working within their chapters to effect change in their communities.”

We’re just not sure that selling marijuana is in alignment with developing intellect and involvement in the community nor does such a habit or pastime allow this one member to be effecting positive change in his community. We’ve heard it all before: “Why are Greeks held to a higher standard?” Hello, other non-affiliated students on campus do not take a vow to uphold values like ‘effecting positive change’, ‘intellect’, and ‘integrity’. So, if you want to be in the weed selling biz, don’t join a fraternity.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where does the time go?

If you are anything like me, you are perhaps wondering how it is already the middle of July, and what happened to the months of May and June. Summer always seems to move quickly, and this year is certainly no exception. For many of us, we have just four or five weeks until we return to campus for move-in, orientation, recruitment, and the launch of the fall semester. What are you going to do in these last few weeks to prepare for the fall? What is left on your to-do list to tackle before you head back to campus?

* Summer Reading - did you read something new and different this summer? Stretch your brain? How can you apply what you read to your chapter or council? Have you shared your thoughts about what you read with others or do you plan to discuss it with your peers?

* Summer Conferences/Leadership Events - did you have the opportunity to attend your organization's National Convention, or a leadership training event or program? If so, what did you learn? How are you going to communciate that information to your peers without overwhelming them with your excitement? How are you going to use what you learned to make positive change? What is your plan for following up and assessing your change?

* Recruitment Preparation - have you used your down time this summer to prepare yourself and your organization for success this fall? Have you changed any of your recruitment strategies? How so? What do you need to do the next few weeks to be fully ready?

* Organizational Preparation - how have you prepared for the fall semester? What will you do differently in the coming year? How will you welcome your members back to campus? What are your priorities for the first few weeks of the new semester? How have you communicated any changes with your members?
* Peer Accountability - how are you holding each other accountable for tasks you agreed to complete over the summer months? Are you checking in with each other? What happens if someone does not keep up their end of the bargain? Are you prepared to adjust or step in as needed?

* Personal time - have you taken some time to relax and re-charge this summer? Refresh yourself and your outlook, and prepare for the year ahead? Everyone deserves a mental break, even if it is just for a few days. It will make you a stronger leader. Have you taken care of yourself?

The beginning of a new academic year is one of my favorite times on campus. Everyone is fresh and excited about the new opportunties available. Do some thinking now about your preparation for that time, and also make sure you're taking care of yourself so that you are refreshed! We look forward to seeing what will be accomplished in your chapters and councils in the coming year.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Best of Busted

Branding of TCU Kappa Sigma Member Prompts Inquiry

Texas Christian University and officials of Kappa Sigma Fraternity are investigating an incident in which a student suffered second- and third-degree burns after being branded on his buttocks during a ski trip.

The student… will have to undergo plastic surgery to repair the damage.

[The student] was injured on the last night of his fraternity’s ski trip at Breckenridge, Colo.

[The student] said that the group drank and got rowdy and that at some point he agreed to allow his fraternity brothers to finish branding the Kappa Sigma letters on his rear end with a hot coat hanger — a brand that was started on a spring break trip more than a year ago.

But his fraternity brothers, [the student] said, took things too far.

"I woke up the next morning and I was in a lot of pain," [the student] said. "My whole other butt cheek was destroyed."

TCU issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying it has begun an investigation.

"University policy prohibits harming another student, which would obviously include branding," [the] spokeswoman said.

Obviously it would include branding. Besides the fact that getting branded is, in and of itself, totally wrong and unimaginable, the main reason we are so outraged about this incident is the branded student’s response to it all. Although the student says no one will tell him exactly what happened the night of the branding or who was responsible, he is still trying to take all of the heat for it by blaming himself for being too drunk. If this doesn’t scream hazing from every direction, we don’t know what would.

Plus, this was not the first time this happened… they were ‘finishing off’ the original job. What?! Imagine the logical conversation that preceded that event:

“Dudes, I am just loving the Kappa Sig brand on my bazooka. I sure wish it had some finer lines though.”

“Well, because we’re brothers and we care so much about you, we’d be happy to clean it up for you.”

“Thanks, you guys are the best.”

“No problem, man. There is nothing worse than having a brand that’s just not what you wanted.”

“Right… and it’s our letters, for God’s sake! We don’t want to disrespect the founders!”

Let’s get this straight. Branding isn’t funny, it’s not even close to funny. Funny things don’t make us throw up in our mouths.

McDonald, M. (2010, January 28). Branding of TCU Kappa Sigma member prompts inquiry. [Electronic Version]. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved March 12, 2010 from:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just Do It

A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend with some friends in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. My friends were all planning to run the Steamboat Half Marathon, and I'd tentatively committed to running the 10K before the trip. I'm a new-ish runner, and still working on my form (and being able to breathe), so I had a whole host of excuses as to why I might not even be ready to do the 10K, and therefore was not going to commit until the morning of the race.

Race weekend rolled around, and I was feeling semi-confident in my ability. And then one of the guys got injured, and dropped out of the half marathon. And a tiny little crazy thought worked its way into my brain as we drove out to Steamboat. What if I took his place? The course was somewhat downhill (except for that killer uphill on mile 9), and if nothing else, I could catch a ride the rest of the way down if I couldn't make it any longer. And then someone actually suggested I take the place, which somewhat validated the idea in my head. Without allowing myself to think about it too much (me? over think something?) I jumped in.

I think I slept for a total of about 30 minutes the night before, so when the alarm went off at 5:20am, I was wide awake, and just slightly nervous that I was out of my mind. Faking sickness or injury crossed my mind more than once. We got dropped off at the bus stop at six, and had to wait for a bus until after seven, which didn't help the situation. I was crafting excuses in my head the entire time. The buses finally came and we were off... no turning back now!

I kept up with the men for less than half a mile, and settled into my own perfect pace. And I loved every minute of it. I met some nice people as I ran/walked/hobbled my way through and took in the beautiful scenery. I had plenty of time to think about what I was doing, how it was slightly random, and how it translates to other areas of my life, and our work with the fraternal community.

How many times do we put off doing something because we just are not sure, or because we don't feel ready, or we haven't had the right amount of training, or the right preparation? How many times have we avoided a difficult conversation with a student, or avoided closing a chapter because we didn't feel ready? How many times have we let something happen because we were not prepared to challenge the situation or the process?

What could we accomplish in our world if we stopped over-thinking and started doing? What if we took more chances and took more risks? What if we were willing to put ourselves out there a bit more, so to speak? If we were not afraid of failure? How would the fraternal movement be different? What if we were not scared of the potential pitfalls or roadblocks, and jumped into something with two feet? What would be different? What other areas of life might this apply to for you?

I definitely wasn't the fastest person on the road, and at times, was in a lot of pain. But I learned a little bit about myself and my limits that day, and I'll be back on the half-marathon trail again sometime in the future. If nothing else, it was great time to think while absorbing the beautiful scenery and plan my next crazy adventure. How have you stepped outside of your comfort zone lately?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Best of Busted!

Penn State DU Alumni Board Shuts Down Chapter

The alumni board of a Penn State fraternity is shutting down the house, saying the students living there caused a long list of problems ranging from not taking care of the property to offering marijuana to a visitor from the fraternity's leadership.

The alumni board is in the process of expelling the members from the house, saying ongoing efforts to work with them didn’t stop the problems. The alumni board plans to reopen the house in fall 2010 with new members.

“It’s certainly something that had been building for quite some time,” An Alumni Board leader said. “Even at the beginning of the summer, we had intentions of working with them to try to turn the place around. They still continued to show an unwillingness to live by the principles of the fraternity.”

The problems have been going on for several years, and some are visible — a broken window, damaged floors, holes in the walls and a stair banister ripped from a wall. Other problems were drug and alcohol related.

The chapter ended up in redevelopment — a sort of probationary oversight — after a fraternity member offered marijuana to a representative of Delta Upsilon International during a visit.

As hard as it is so see chapter facilities close, we give kudos to this alumni group for putting their feet down. All too often, chapters complain of alumni NOT giving them the attention and the resources that they need but here we see an example of a chapter who does have access to interested alumni and chooses not to take advantage of their assistance.

The fraternity/sorority community is so privileged when you think about the resources that chapter members get: inter/national offices and staff members, campus advisors, and involved, passionate alumni. All of these people are genuinely invested in helping chapters succeed but we still find ways to mess it up. Hey, we even get consultants who COME DIRECTLY TO YOU with huge connections and resources to help chapters meet and exceed expectations.

Speaking of consultants…yes, you read correctly: this chapter offered marijuana to the consultant that came to their chapter. This is just plain weird. We know from past Busted! columns that there are fraternity and sorority members who smoke pot… but who would have thought that anyone would think the consultant would partake?

This article is a great reminder of another issue that doesn’t come up very often: how our alumni feel about what we do. The full length version of this article mentioned specifically how upset some of the older living alumni, men in their 70’s, felt about this. These were men who had lived in the house, valued the chapter, and committed their years after college graduation to serve the organization… and now this. Sad.

Another sad piece is that this decision did not come out of the blue; closing this facility was clearly illustrated as being a last resort. The international office gave the chapter a plan for success which they chose not to follow. The chapter also failed to meet any of the expectations of the Alumni Board over the past few years as the problems escalated. Maybe the chapter members thought it was an empty threat? Seems like a bold move.

Danahy, A. (2009, July 30). Penn State DU alumni board shuts down chapter. Centre Daily Times Retrieved July 30, 2009 from: