Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Values-Based? Or Just Hypocrites?

“We are hard pressed to find a setting where the risk of an alcohol related injury is more likely than from underage drinking at a university fraternity party the first week of the new college year.”


Many have been sharing the link to this article that was recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle is kind of a big deal. To put it mildly, a lot of people read it.

We’ve been doing a lot of posting about hazing lately and while this article makes us think about the topic further, we’re almost more interested in the tales of hypocrisy this brings to light. Not that it’s the first time we’ve ever thought of it, but – let’s be honest - it hits the tiniest bit harder when a giant news icon brings it to light.

Consider this:

What is Said What is Real
The University of Florida Office of Sorority/Fraternity Affairs’ FAQ  list includes:  “What are the rules regarding hazing?” The response includes: “Hazing is contrary to the purposes of the Florida Greek community and the University of Florida.”Nine members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. were recently charged with paddling five pledges and hitting them in the chest during a hazing ritual known as “thunderslaps.”
Cornell’s Office of Greek Life website reads, “Cornell’s Greek Community is among the best in the nation. There is no better example of student organizations that work to enhance their members’ collegiate experience.”Complaints of hazing were increased from 15 in 2006/2007 to 31 in 2009/2010. One alleged incident involving George Desdunes resulted in his death.
Penn State’s website for the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life reads, “Building lifelong friendships thorough collaborative and meaningful relationships is a key component to the fraternal experience at Penn State.”“Little sisters” were allegedly tortured and beaten by older members of an auxiliary group associated with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. So badly beaten the women required treatment at a hospital.
The mission statement of the Radford University fraternity/sorority community includes, “The Greek community of Radford University will aspire to the high ideals, tenants, and traditions of the founders of their respective organizations by instilling amongst its members the true meaning of brotherhood and sisterhood…”Members of Tau Kappa Epsilon allegedly forced pledge, Samuel Mason, to drink an entire bottle of alcohol resulting in a .48 Blood-alcohol level and his death.

We’ve all been involved in conversations about integrity: the concept of doing what we say we will do. There are many things wrong with the events noted above – and others like them – but what if we simply had integrity. We see two options:
  1. We stop hazing, misusing alcohol, killing people, and so forth. 
  2. We continue to haze, misuse alcohol, kill people, and so forth but just own up to the fact that we sometimes do it. 

What if we did option two? What would that look like? Instead of what’s currently in the first column maybe there would be statements like this:

University of Florida Sorority/Fraternity Affairs’ website would read, “Some of our chapters haze. We think it's wrong, but that's the reality that you should know. If you join, you may or may not be paddled to the point of being assaulted.”

Cornell’s Office of Greek Life website might read, “Here’s the deal: A large majority of our chapters are good, but some haze. Some haze so badly they’ve killed people in the past. Just putting it out there.”

Penn State’s website for the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life might include, “We don’t endorse little sister groups, but they’re out there. Watch out, many of them haze pretty badly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

And Radford? Oh, Radford. Maybe they’d just say this: “Yes, some of our chapters haze. If you’re hazed, you’ll more likely be made to drink yourself to death than be beaten up or forced to swim in a pool of vomit.”

It sounds kind of ridiculous, right? Who would publish these kinds of statements? You know what's even more ridiculous than these statements? THE FACT THAT THEY'RE TRUE.

Think about it. What activities does your chapter or community engage in that you would never admit? If you did admit it, how would the headline read? How embarrassing is it?

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