Monday, January 25, 2010

Best of Busted!

DU Recruitment Event Under Investigation …. Books “hardcore midget wrestling group”

“Northwestern's chapter of Delta Upsilon fraternity may face disciplinary action from the university after hiring an entertainment group, which bills itself as the “one and only hardcore midget wrestling company”, to perform at a recruitment event…”

“At a…event…, the Half Pint Brawlers performed a show, during which they simulated sex, jumped off a ladder onto one another and stapled each other in the face, among other acts depicted in photographs and videos... In the videos, attendees cheered and chanted, urging the performers to ‘Hit him with a chair!’ and ‘Do it again!’’

The specific theme of this issue of Connections was about fraternal relevancy and values based leadership. While this type of event may occur at a local club or bar in some college towns, how does it connect with the principles that your fraternity or sorority has been built upon? The most ironic part of this whole scenario is that it allegedly occurred during a recruitment function. Believe it or not, this is the event that the recruitment chairman and recruitment committee believed would attract the highest number of quality “hardcore” members to the chapter. What’s that you say?: we are all social organizations and we must show potential members a good time to give them a true picture of what we are about and you need to know how they handle themselves socially?

Let’s snap out of it folks; if we are using parties and events such as “Hardcore Midget Wrestling” as our tools for recruitment, what are we saying about ourselves, what it is that we value and who we want to join our organizations? We are going to get the type of members that expect events like this to be the sum total of their fraternal experience, and these types of joiners are least likely to make positive contributions to the chapters. To top it all off, the videos of these events are likely going to end up on YouTube and Facebook… which is a whole new example of how to get Busted!
Rakov, Abe. (2008, January 14). Rush Event Under Investigation. The Daily Northwestern, Retrieved January 15, 2008, from

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Your "Elevator" Speech

As the spring semester begins, and fraternity and sorority students around the country prepare for membership recruitment and intake processes, my mind wanders to all of those young men and women joining our chapters. I also think about all of those individuals who never joined, or will never join, based on the picture we paint of our organizations and our values. What image do you portray? How are your values evident in your everyday words and actions? What is your "elevator speech"?

I feel like I always pick on fraternity men, but unfortunately, they keep giving me material. (Feel free to stop anytime...) Recently, I overheard an elevator conversation about hazing. Members of an organization were filling a crowded elevator as we descended floors in a hotel, and one young man suggested that we ask the associate members of this group to step off and allow the initiated members to fill the elevator first. Someone else suggested that this was a constructive form of hazing. (For the record, he thought an "un-constructive" form of hazing would be to ask "pledges" to eat 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts.)

Now, in their defense, these young men had no idea who I was until I spoke up, however, that almost makes it worse. At least I have some knowledge of the fraternal community, and did not form my opinion of fraternities based on this interaction. But what if someone else had been in the elevator? What if a family with teenage children going off to college soon overheard this conversation? What if your University President overheard this conversation? What other conversations do we have, even in fun, that can be interpreted the wrong way by those who have no working knowledge of what we do?

What is your "elevator speech?" How do you positively portray the values and ideals of your organization in your daily interactions with those around you? What might be misinterpreted by those who have no clue about anything other than the stereotypes we fight on a daily basis? How can you step up your game as the new semester begins?

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Step in Before the Sharpie

In my fraternity, as an undergrad, we had an unwritten rule.

If you can't make it to your own bed by were fair game. That meant if you couldn't make it to bed because you were too drunk or if someone had to help you, then the fraternity had a green light to write on you with a sharpie marker.

My pledge grandfather got so drunk during Homecoming that he passed out on the front lawn of the fraternity house. (Note to self: I don't recommend this)

As chapter president, I walked in to his room to find his own pledge brothers writing on him with markers. One guy was coloring in the left side of his face with a lime-green highlighter. He said, "I just thought I needed to fill it in."

Now I believe that the intent behind writing on people was a good one. (Stay with me here) The fraternity's intent was a good one. They were trying to teach guys that if you got that drunk, bad things will happen to you. The fraternity was trying to use it as a deterrent.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work. It didn't then. It doesn't now.

So let's say we're all at a party. You see me drinking. You see me drinking more. You see me drinking throughout the night at the party. Do you ever step in? No. Do you tell me to slow down? No. Is it easy to do either of those? No. Should you? Yes. But in fact and most often, you wait until I get so drunk I don't have control ...and then you jack with me?

Is that how you define your brotherhood/sisterhood?

How about this year, we all make a new year's resolution to step in and intervene before we get to using the sharpie marker?

Are you your brother and sister's keeper?