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Kid Stuff

By Dr. Jeremy Edwards (Tulsa)

Talking about hazing practices is definitely not easy, especially as a 30-plus-year member of an organization founded on its opposition. Past Regent Dick Vaughan described hazing as “Kid Stuff” in his 1961 essay The Way of Honor, widely considered required reading in many candidate education programs just like it was when I was a candidate (we were called Novices back then). The late Regent was correct, and that statement is as true today as it was when he wrote it.

Unfortunately, many organizations—not just Greek-letter organizations—do not see things the way we do. The list of hazing-related tragedies that have plagued the fraternity and sorority community is long. Even today, many uninformed potential new members, and their parents too, believe the Hollywood depiction of fraternity life, as in movies like Animal House, for example. We all know that to be far from the truth. Unfortunately, our existence can carry a stigma that is difficult to bear.

It goes without saying that a rigorous and sound candidate education program facilitates more dedicated initiates. But what do we really mean by “rigorous?” Candidacy should be challenging, right? The Candidates should develop a profound desire to “earn it,” right? Candidates should develop the bonds of brotherhood, unity, and solidarity among themselves and their older chapter brothers, right? Of course, we all agree that the answer to these questions is “yes,” but what is in bounds and what is not? In my experience, it depends on whom you ask. Earning initiation through diligent education in our values and developing respect for one’s peers and fraternal superiors is a good thing. However, this can all be done effectively in alignment with our values and commitment to a hazing-free fraternal experience.

Past Regent Vaughan also contrasted the importance of tradition and doing the right thing instead of what has been done in the past; challenge the status quo. It is in this area that judgment comes into play. Our Ritual instills that the duty of a candidate is respect. Initiates should also not lose sight of that vow; we were all candidates before we were Knights after all. The commitment to the respect of all members, regardless of status, remains a solemn oath of all candidates and initiated members of Sigma Nu.

I firmly believe that with steadfast attention to what we want to accomplish with our candidate education programs, proper and robust training of our collegiate brothers, and willingness to hold each other accountable, Sigma Nu chapters are sure to thrive with no end in sight.

Dr. Jeremy Edwards is an initiate of the Zeta Lambda Chapter at the University of Tulsa. He is a Division Commander for the Central Plains Alpha Region.

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