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.


Unknown said...

I can appreciate anger and frustration after reading the article, but I think it's important we aren't victim blaming in cases of hazing. There are plenty of reasons someone would endure hazing even to these extremes. Blaming them for "sticking with it" isn't going to solve the problem. The irrevocable damage that is done to someone when being hazed means they are likely to take their pain and suffering out on others, regardless of whether they think it's the right thing or not. The better question is how are we supporting the mental health of our members, discouraging bystander behavior and empowering our members to be individuals?

Anonymous said...

Unknown, exactly!

Victim blame wasn't at all the intention. We think the concept of bystander behavior, as indicated at the very end of the post, is the big issue here. Those (in this case the active/initiated brothers) were the ones who held more power - and therefore the responsibility. Thanks for the dialogue!