Health & Safety Advisor Accreditation, page 3
A Conversation on Hazing
Pi Kappa Alpha, as with many of our peers in the fraternity industry, continues to face its fair share of problems with destructive new-member activity that includes all levels of hazing. There have been several high-profile hazing incidents among major fraternities that have left chapters closed, young men in jail, and, most unfortunately, families torn apart in the past two years alone. As a fraternity industry, we are letting those incidents define all of us: our values, our organization, and our fraternity experience.
As health & safety advisor, you have the unique opportunity to mentor young men and make a marked impact on their life. Part of this impact can be had by having important and critical conversations around hazing. The Fraternity staff, at its PIKE University events and through chapter visits around the country, touches heavily on the subject of hazing prevention but we need that education to be supplemented by our local health & safety advisors. Even if it feels redundant, it is recommended to have a conversation with your undergraduate chapter leadership about hazing each year.
We understand that some of our advisors might have experienced hazing or “I-week” during their new-member process. However, we must leave those days behind if we want to exist moving forward. The Fraternity abolished ingress week or “I-week” at the 2018 International Convention. The Fraternity, meaning undergraduate delegates, at the 2018 Convention also abolished the use and terminology of “Big Brothers”. This is not to get rid of the positive mentor relationships in fraternity chapters but rather to get rid of the connotation that too frequently surrounds Big Brother relationships. Too often, Big Brother nights end up with people getting hurt or injured. I-weeks and Big/Little Brother activities are not the only times hazing can show up in a chapter, so it is important to not limit conversations to just these activities. It is important as an advisor to consider how hazing might show up as part of the chapter’s planned new-member activities, at social events, or at the hands of an individual member when having this critical conversation.
Additionally, we ask our advisors to talk to other advisory board members and alumni about being mindful of the stories that they tell impressionable undergraduates. Ideas are too frequently taken from one generation to the next in a way that was not intended by either party. Please see below for a few tips and best practices for navigating the topic of hazing in your conversations with alumni, chapter leadership, new-members, and current members.
A few things to discuss during this conversation are:
- Hazing is against the Pi Kappa Alpha Standards. Additionally, many states are making significant changes to their laws on hazing and there is currently federal legislation in motion to mandate campuses report allegations of hazing in their campus crime reports each year.
- Universities are moving towards significantly more punitive sanctions for chapters that haze. Engaging in hazing puts in jeopardy not only the welfare of new-members but also the continued existence of the chapter as a whole.
- Hazing creates a natural division within the undergraduate chapter amongst new-member classes; it does not bring new-member classes together in a constructive way. This division will manifest itself in the chapter when classes of the chapter do not want to work together or choose to not meet their obligations because they are no longer “pledges”.
- Hazing escalates quickly; what might start out benignly can escalate into something considerably more dangerous.
- There are better and more efficient ways to reach new-members and build connections than useless hazing activities. Consider that the purpose of new-member education and member development
- It is not acceptable for the chapter president to plead ignorance about the new-member process. Ultimately, the chapter president is responsible for the conduct of the whole chapter and thus should be intricately aware of the new-member process and what activities are taking place. This is also true for all members and alumni who have an obligation to speak up if they become aware of planned hazing activities.
As a health & safety advisor, perhaps the best thing that you can do to support your chapter is to be aware of the goings-on within the chapter. This is especially the case with preventing hazing in the chapter. While you can’t be expected to know every single thing going on in the chapter, the hope is that you are aware of what goes on in the new-member process and also be aware of activities involving initiated members that may be hazing.
- Understand what expectations that the University and Fraternity have for new-member education.
- Ask about anti-hazing education offered through the university and make sure the chapter participates even if not required
- Get a schedule and a written new-member education plan from the new-member educator and membership development team and discuss what activities outside of the scheduled events new-members will be at and what their plans are for keeping hazing out of those events as well.
- Speak to the new-members at the beginning of the semester and cover the Position Statement on Hazing.
- Even if you believe the chapter does not haze, having the conversation is important because hazing can be introduced onto chapter activities at any time.
- Let the new-members know that they can report anything that makes them uncomfortable to you at any time and that you will have their back
- Help to implement the mentor program in the chapter