Monday, April 23, 2012

Who hazes? Jerks, that's who.

Once again, we’re beside ourselves.

The Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at Boston University, albeit unrecognized by the university, was busted when police found five nearly naked men shivering in the fraternity house basement beaten and covered in condiments, flour, and coffee grounds.

We’re really mad. We were really mad a few weeks ago when we posted about the Dartmouth incident.

But, this article also makes us really sad. The police reports read, “All five were shivering and had horrified and fearful looks on their faces. They were tied together via duct tape wrist to wrist to form a human chain. [One] officer asked if they were alright and got no verbal answer. [One] victim looked right at [the] officer and with tears coming down his face shook head from right to left and back indicating no.”

WHO DOES THIS TO PEOPLE?! (Look, we’re yelling now.) Who takes a friend, a BROTHER, by the hand, puts duct tape on his near-naked body, screams and yells at him, covers him with horrible things, BEATS HIM, and then later tells him, “We love you, you’re a brother, you’re one of us… blah blah blah.”

If five women were found in a man’s home in this same situation, communities would be livid and in an uproar. It would be national, stop-what-you’re-doing-and-turn-on-the-television news. From what we can tell, no one has even been arrested so far. If a spouse did this to his or her partner, people would be keeled over in agony thinking about the horrors of domestic violence.

But this is relationship violence, too, people. It’s really no different. If you know anything about relationship violence, you’ve heard of the Cycle of Violence.

The cycle starts with tension building. The victim knows something is coming; they can just feel it in the air.

“Let’s go down to the basement, pledges.”

Then the violent incident occurs.

“Look what you’re making me do!”

Then, in comes the Honeymoon Period. Usually the perpetrator apologizes, tells their victim they love them, and minimizes the abuse – or denies it happened altogether.

“We love each other. Don’t worry, we’ve all been through this. Brotherhood is a strong and close relationship. We always back each other up. We always look out for each other.”

It’s a cycle, so it happens again and again. And again.

Who does this, you ask? Who would be so cruel, hateful, and abusive to someone they love? Hmmm, that’s a great question; we were just wondering the exact same thing.

Is there a double standard? Do people actually think it’s okay to beat some people but not others?

“[It] seems like torturing and it’s just beyond the limits.” One interviewed neighbor indicated.

Um, yes.

Another neighbor stated, “I’m not surprised but it’s definitely unfortunate.”

Yes, unfortunate is one word that comes to mind, although – quite frankly - we were thinking of some others.

Alpha Epsilon Pi has since closed this chapter. Their website reads, “Any members found responsible for participating in any actions contrary to our risk management guidelines will be expelled. We also intend to fully cooperate with all authorities and investigations.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We Heart Our Volunteers

AFLV has a small staff, but we’re able to produce and run numerous events, programs, and services. This is because of our volunteers.

Fraternities and sororities have many common values; one is service to the community. Initially, most of us understand this value as serving the underrepresented and/or underprivileged. We build houses on immersion trips and with Habitat for Humanity, we volunteer at women’s shelters, we collect food for our local food bank, and so forth. When we graduate, we hope fraternity and sorority members will continue this service in one way or another.

But, perspectives of service shift and change after we graduate. Many professionals add service to their profession to their plate. Lawyers are members of the Bar Association, doctors are members of the American Medical Association, and funeral home directors are members of the National Funeral Home Directors Association.

Those who work in the field of fraternity and sorority life have lots of options for professional development: The Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, the Fraternity Executives Association, the Fraternity Communications Association, and more. Not to mention all the options that fall within the realm of campus-based professionals’ work: ACPA, NASPA, ACUI… the list goes on and on.

AFLV has deep gratitude for those who choose to volunteer and help to run our association. Without our volunteer conference staff, Connections editorial board, awards and assessment judges, Board of Directors, and other committees, we would simply not be able to provide the events, programs, and services that we do.

Thank you. THANK YOU. We thank all who have ever given their time to our association. 

If you would like to be a part of this volunteer team, please let us know about your interests.

The more the merrier; that’s what we always say!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Where is the line?

Have you read this? This article, Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth's Hazing Abuses, was recently published in Rolling Stone magazine. We just got done reading it.

To be frank, we're livid.

Where is the line?

When is that point where you get up, head for the door, and say "Sorry, this is not worth it." We think that swimming in a kiddie pool filled with vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen, and rotten food is FOR SURE one of the things we'd walk away from. In fact, we'd even slam the door on the way out.

Ick. Gross. Shame on you, hazers.

Obviously, we're huge advocates of fraternal life. Look, we do it for a living. Lots of people do. But this, my friends, is not okay. There are a lots of reasons to join a fraternity or sorority. Heck, we've even made a list of some of the best ones. But this. This? This is not one of those reasons.

Those of you who are poo-pooing Sigma Alpha Epsilon specifically, just you hang on a minute. Obviously it's horrible. Those chapter members are horrible. But, if any headquarters or university staff member knew about this, if any member of the Dartmouth fraternity/sorority community knew about this, if any student on campus knew about this, if any member's roommate knew about this, if any parent or family member knew about this and failed to act they should be poo-pooed, as well.

We (kind of) get hazing. By "get it," we mean that we can understand the pressure to do something you wouldn't normally do - or feel uncomfortable doing - for the sake of belonging. We can all think of a time we've done something to belong... whether it was to join our fraternity/sorority, to avoid an argument with a friend, or just to fit in.

This doesn't mean that it's okay. It means that life is filled with lessons and opportunities to challenge what is right, to stand up for yourself and others, and to do the right thing despite the fact that it can be very (very) difficult.

So, where is the line? What would you never, ever do? At what point do you stand up for yourself - and in this case for your pledge brothers/sisters - and say, "no, this is wrong and we're not going to do it."

MORE IMPORTANTLY, when does that happen to the initiated/active member who is standing there watching other people - friends, BROTHERS - swim in vomit and urine stop to say, "No. Enough. This is wrong and I won't stand here and watch it happen."

This, my friends, is bystander behavior.