Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hazing - It's Weird

We're totally serious on this one. As we talked about National Hazing Prevention Week in the office, we tried to be really deep and figure out why people haze. But as we talked about different hazing activities people partake in, we kept ending up at the same reaction:
"That's really freakin' weird."

A summary of our faces
Think about it though. Let's pretend we're explaining some of our activities to our parents. Let's even pretend our mom is not like a regular mom, but a cool mom.
Mom: What is the 4-1-1? What has everybody been up to? What's the hot gossip?
Hazer: Well, tonight we had a line up, so we made the pledges stand side-by-side. Then we all pointed out where each girl needs to tone up. It was really fun, and they appreciated the constructive criticism about their bodies. One girl even cried!
Mom: Wait ... what? Honey, I'm confused. That doesn't sound fun; it sounds weird and mean. Why would you want to look at all the pledges in their underwear?
Hazer: Well, she needed to prove she belonged. It's like, the rules.
Mom: But why would you pick her for a pledge if she has so many things to fix? Maybe you should do that whole rush thing better and pick girls you don't think you need to fix.
Hazer: Mom, go fix your hair.
Even if you had a cool mom, explaining some of the activities that chapters use to haze is hard to justify because it sounds kind of insane.

Even when we were trying to use common excuses like "they need to prove they belong," the activities just sounded weird. In what universe are line ups, pledge book signing, dressing in embarrassing costumes, or blindfolded quizzes considered normal behavior, let alone behaviors you could use to prove your worth? A recent Cosmo story of one woman's account of her experience being hazed has garnered attention for degrading women in general, but mostly because no one could look at these activities and call them normal by any standards.

Take a look around you this week. There are many great statistics and campaigns that tell the physical and psychological effect of hazing. There is also a lot of great info about what could happen to hazers since it's against the law in 44 states. But take a step back and look at hazing from a normal perspective: it's pretty weird.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Times are Consensual

We seriously never imagined the day when we would be giving a shoutout to Playboy for its perspective about sex. But the day is here, and we're all about Playboy's Top Ten Party Commandments for a Consensual Good Time.

As we've talked about before, many behaviors, attitudes, and words on college campuses across America are conducive to a rape culture. But as Playboy puts it, "Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And f@¢# those people."

Why does this matter to you as a fraternity leader?

Let's think about the overall perception of fraternity men. There are a lot of uninformed people out there who think we're all rapists. But, just like the examples Playboy's list gives, there are many ways for men to stand against rape. 

Fraternity men at Northwest Missouri State University, the University of Iowa, Ohio University, Washington University in St. Louis, Wittenberg University, and countless other universities are leading the way in efforts like A Walk in Her Shoes and No Woman Left Behind.

In fact, a recent study finds fraternity men have lower levels of hyper-masculinity, a predictor of sexual aggression, than unaffiliated male students. We're not saying we're perfect by any means, but the current sexual assault education fraternities receive should serve as a catalyst for fraternity men to educate their entire campus communities.

Not sure where to start? There are plenty of creative ideas in Playboy's list, or you can look into national movements like Men Can Stop Rape and One Student.

If the Hef can take a stand for a consent, we're pretty sure you can, too.

Editor's note: We've recently discovered that this article is a hoax by the group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture and was not published by Playboy. But that does not detract from these great ideas, and the group's ideas are spot on.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Not Just Us

Fraternity/sorority members leading the charge at Marshall University

September is the month that holds Hazing Prevention Week, and with that comes a bunch of articles, blogs, and social media posts about preventing hazing in fraternities and sororities.

Many of you feel singled out by #NHPW and are quick to bring up the argument that it's not just fraternities and sororities. Trust us, we feel ya on this one.

After a two-year suspension, the Florida A&M band has returned, and in the past week, the Towson University cheerleading squad has been suspended for competition for one year for an alleged hazing incident. ESPN is notorious for highlighting the rookie hazing in NFL training camps each year.

But just as we coach our chapters with recruitment and public relations efforts, perception is reality. As long as any of our chapters haze, fraternities and sororities are an easy target. If public perception is that all of us haze the crap out of people, others' realities are that we haze the crap out of people.

However, this concept can be applied to improve our image and showcase what we're actually about. As the groups who are most often targeted, we can and should take the lead in the hazing prevention efforts in our campus communities.

One of the main differences between fraternal organizations and other student organizations is that we explicitly say we are about brother/sisterhood and building better people. As values-based organizations, it's our job to tell people what we're about and take a stand against hazing. The sustainability of our organizations is dependent upon it. These values that we stand on and talk about so often are the main reason we should be the leaders in hazing prevention. It's in our founders' ideals that we stand against hazing.

So this September, let your actions and words create a new perception. Let everyone know what we're really about.