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Time and Effort

By Josh Green (Arizona) 

When asked to write an article discussing hazing prevention and our values, the first thing that comes to mind is Truth. As I see it, hazing – especially in today’s world – is about laziness. That is the Truth. While I still like to consider myself a young alumnus, I will soon – next year – celebrate my 20th anniversary of being a Sigma Nu. Over those 20 years, I have had the honor and privilege of seeing some of the best Sigma Nu chapters around the country – how they operate and the brotherhood they have built, which is where their strength comes from. I have also, sadly, seen what seemed like amazing chapters fall apart due to hazing. The first that comes to mind is a Rock Chapter that – shortly after receiving the award – was closed due to egregious hazing. Again, in today’s world, hazing will be found out and there will be consequences.  

Now, why do I say hazing is about laziness? It is my opinion that hazing mainly comes about when chapters do not hold people accountable (too lazy to find the courage to do what is right), when people think it will be funny (too lazy to speak up about it being wrong), and not knowing what else to do to forge the bonds of brotherhood in a shared experience (too lazy to think about how else this can come to be). It is this last item that I will speak about because I feel it is one that can help to prevent the other two. I will never contend that this is easy; it is not. However, honor and accountability are muscles that must be used to remain strong.  

I believe that a number of instances of hazing come as a result of chapters and chapter members not thinking about what really creates the strongest bonds of brotherhood. I am sure that is not the case in all situations, but I believe it to be the case in many. So, what is it that creates these strong bonds? 

  1. Shared experiences  
  2. Overcoming adversity or a challenge as a group 
  3. Helping each other to ensure all succeed (groups either win or lose together)   
  4. Creating shared memories  
  5. Owning something that everyone takes pride in  

These things may seem simple, but they are incredibly powerful. I think of our own Brother from the University of Oregon (Gamma Zeta Chapter), Don Malarkey – a member of the famed “Easy Company” of the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division of World War II fame. I was able to hear him speak during the 2009 College of Chapters, and there are two elements I took from the shared experience of the men in Easy Company that are relevant here.  

The first is hazing. During their time in training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, the men were subjected to a form of hazing that we see in chapters – forced physical activity, random punishments, doing remedial tasks, among other things. While a clear argument can be made as to how this ended up serving those men once they began seeing combat in Europe, the result was the almost unanimous dislike of their commanding officer who instigated the hazing. The men formed a very strong bond during that time but ended up – in many cases – hating the person doing the hazing. The same happens in chapters with hazing – younger members end up hating one or more older members who tormented them. The same outcome can be achieved in overcoming adversity without the use of hazing.  

The second is shared experiences. This, which is not unique to Easy Company and their experience is common among those who have experienced combat, is where there is tremendous opportunity to build strong bonds of brotherhood forged through positive actions – even when it is challenging. By going through combat together, Easy Company created shared experiences and memories that kept them together over the next sixty-plus years. This is where hazing can be prevented – shared experiences, not combat. Attending events together, working on projects together, and having the resulting memories are very powerful in creating those bonds.  

When looking at ways to bring a candidate class together, there are so many things they can do as a group that can forge the bonds of brotherhood that deeply connect them to each other, as well as the entire active chapter, alumni, and fraternity.  

  1. Going on a camping trip with a set agenda and topics to discuss. 
  2. Participate in a high ropes course that is led by an instructor. 
  3. Go to a baseball game together. 
  4. Work with chapter officers to develop a brotherhood event focused on getting to know each other (could be done before a big/little brother program to help with that process). 
  5. Invite alumni to a gathering to share their (positive) experiences about their time as active members. 

So, as I noted above, there is time and effort that goes into creating opportunities for new members to create lasting connections. The goal is to get people to create memories around events that are positive in nature and create a deeper and better connection to each other and the chapter, as well as the Fraternity as a whole.  

While it might not come across entirely through this article, this is a topic that I am incredibly passionate about. So many other alumni volunteers are also motivated and dedicated to helping you and your chapter in coming up with ideas to develop these programs and events. Make sure you are reaching out to tap into the wealth of knowledge to help keep your chapter strong and build positive relationships that will last a lifetime.  

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9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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