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Killing the Sacred Cows

Written by Justin Jacobs (Southeast Missouri) 

When I sat down to write this article, I didn’t know what to say. Which had me thinking, does anyone know what to say when it comes to hazing? We already have problems with hard conversations, let alone on the topic of hazing. However, it is a conversation that we must have with each other to build a better organization and be better men. 

Last month, I had a retreat with senior alumni members of my chapter and there was one item on the agenda called “kill the sacred cows.” Now I don’t know what you think that means, but I thought we were going to be finally breaking out into the wilderness of the Tennessee mountains. I, of course, was terribly wrong… A sacred cow is a tradition that your chapter has done for many years that serves no true benefit to the betterment of the organization. Unfortunately, one of these sacred cows could be the tradition of hazing within your chapter. It could be the same tradition of hazing that you experienced as a candidate and the logic then is they did it to you, so you should have your chance to do it to someone else. That is how it works, right?  

When you experienced that, did you ever wonder what value is this teaching me, what lesson am I supposed to be learning, or simply how is this making me and my fellow candidates better men? Are you still doing it and wondering why it continues? Well, I am here to tell you there is a way to break that chain. That change can start with you. Now I am not telling you to run into your next chapter meeting and preach about how you will stop the tradition right then and there. I can tell you now, that is nearly impossible to achieve. Change takes more than one person and can't be coerced or forced. True change starts when that one person finds more people who agree with the idea and want to be a part of the change. Then after a while, the majority outweighs the minority and you start a movement. People make up movements and movements drive change. 

So, you are probably wondering, how do I start? First, you can start by identifying those traditions that need to be reconsidered. This could be something your chapter does that if your grandma found out you were doing it, she would be disappointed. Once you have identified these sacred cows, begin to have conversations with brothers close to you. Figure out why you continue to do this tradition and how it may be changed to be both meaningful and aligned with our sacred principles. Remember change takes time so begin to offer substitutes that don’t involve hazing. Encourage those around you to live by the values that they swore to protect. Love. Honor. Truth. Nothing Less. Traditions in the unique college environment only take 4 years to die, and you could plan the funeral. 

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Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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