Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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?

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