Fraternity hazing used to be worse, but it is still a big problem.
I hate to admit that I was hazed on my initiation night. The details of what happened that night are not important. However, what happened as a result is. Three important things happened as a result of that night:
1) Right or wrong, I still hold a grudge against the brother who had a particular role in the hazing that night. He probably doesn’t even remember what happened, but I always will. He was a brother I looked up to, and he let me down.
2) My best friend in college, a guy who went to every social event we had for four years, a guy who knew the brothers as well as I did, refused to join our fraternity. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to join – he did. It was because he didn’t want to go through the non-sense of our new member program.
3) I have a younger brother who attended my school, and I did not push him towards joining my fraternity. I love my fraternity, but I was not that excited about my brother going through what I did.
The point here is that hazing doesn’t typically kill a fraternity because it is illegal, it is kills fraternities because it destroys the chapter from the inside. It is death by a thousand cuts and a symptom of a chapter that isn’t healthy.
Hazing isn’t fun, and guys aren’t active in new member programs because of it.
Outsiders are always watching what fraternity men do, and the type of guys we want will not join if they know they are going to be hazed. Worst of all, it pits brothers against brothers, which is exactly the opposite of what we are all about.
So am I saying that new member programs shouldn’t be challenging? Of course not! But fraternity leaders have the ability and creativity to make their new member nights challenging, educational, and a heck of a lot of fun.
If they can do that they will get a lot more participation from the brotherhood and have a lot fewer pledges quitting the program. If they are creative enough – it can even become a recruitment tool. All are huge wins for the chapter.
If you are reading this, then you are probably one of the best and brightest guys in your fraternity. This is a serious problem we need to solve if we want fraternities to survive. Only our best and brightest will be able to overcome the ‘traditions’ that have been part of our culture for years. Your fraternity needs your leadership now more than ever.
Hazing in fraternities is a serious problem, and will ultimately lead to our demise if we aren’t careful. For those of you that don’t haze, I applaud you. For those of you that need to change your programs, please do so before it is too late.