Experience has proven that new member education is one of the most important programming areas for a fraternity. In evaluating the long-term success and stability of any chapter, those chapters that exert the necessary time and energy into the development of a constructive, non-hazing, new member education program encounter the most prosperity. These groups initiate undergraduates who understand their fraternal responsibilities as active members and have the tools to immediately contribute to the success of the chapter.
There are several definitions for hazing; a common definition is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers them regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Hazing does not promote loyalty or offer a sense of accomplishment. In fact, studies show that the opposite holds true and 75% say hazing drove them apart within their new member class and more so in the active chapter. No matter what you think, hazing is illegal in nearly every state.
Chapters should always be straightforward about the purpose of the new member period by defining the kinds of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The purpose of reading this and having each new member class sign this document is not because the chapter intends to haze new members. With several personalities in a chapter, there is a remote possibility that some individual may, on the spur of the moment, ignore the chapter’s prohibition on hazing, and attempt a hazing activity with a new member. This document helps the new member to understand his rights and to know that he can simply “walk away” without fear of intimidation or harassment. Furthermore, this document helps the new member understand that he has a personal responsibility not to condone any sort of hazing.
Hazing isn’t simply about a list of activities that are permitted or not; it is about a power dynamic in a group and within a particular cultural context. A newcomer or new member lacks the power to resist because he wants to gain admission to the group. The Statement of Position on Hazing identifies some constructive programming ideas collected from a variety of successful Pi Kappa Alpha chapters, as well as some destructive new member activities that have been a source of problems for chapters.
New member education is one of the most important areas of chapter/colony programming for a fraternity. Education is a weakness across the board, so it is extremely important to develop a strong education program. A strong education program leads to better initiates; that are more knowledgeable, active and engaged; better leaders and alumni members and ultimately a better fraternity experience.
Emulate the chapter after great businesses, who recognize the importance of quality people as their most valuable resource, therefore; they only hire and train the most best men. Overall, a quality education program can help stomp out any apathy a chapter faces. The Pi Kappa Alpha New Member Education Rule of Deduction states that “Inefficient new member programs lead to ineffective actives; ineffective actives lead to chapter apathy; chapter apathy leads to an unhealthy chapter and unhealthy chapters lead to closure.”
As a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and the health & safety officer, you have a personal responsibility not to condone any sort of hazing. Just remember - if you have to ask if what you are doing is hazing, it probably is.
If your chapter is struggling with destructive new member practices, reach out to your chapter consultant or our Director of Health & Safety Kim Novak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy