Fighting Greek Stereotypes on Campus – Keep It Simple, Stupid

Recently, while browsing a Greek life related online forum, I came across a post from a user asking about how to change his or her Greek community’s reputation on campus. This is a familiar question in the world of fraternity and sorority life.

For as long as I’ve been a member of a Greek organization, I’ve heard the same concerns:

  • Non-Greeks hate us. Faculty/Staff have a negative view of Greek life on our campus
  • We have a bad reputation/stereotype
  • People make assumptions about us
  • The campus media is out to get us; they never publish the good things we do

I chose to respond to this users questions with the same advice that I give my students. My most simplistic, yet holistic response to these concerns are:

  1. Do more good things
  2. Do less stupid things
  3. Make it a point to be friends with, and work with non-Greek students, faculty, and staff

People will hold a stereotype until they’re proven wrong. If your Greek community is living up to that stereotype, and/or if you don’t get outside of your “Greek bubble”, things will never change.

 

Simple, right?

 

——

Have a thought? Share it in the comments!

 

Post to Twitter

Your New IFC Recruitment Policy

If your IFC community is anything like those I have worked with, recruitment policies are a big deal. Hours are spent discussing what changes need to be made to the policy. How do we make it fair? How do we get more guys? Who has to dissafiliate? How to we prevent dirty recruitment?

What results is a multi-page document that covers all aspects of recruitment. We get so caught up in defining the minutia that we create a document that nobody wants to read and hardly any fraternity men actually understand. We try to make plans for every situation and, in turn, create loopholes that our chapters just love to exploit.

In an attempt to make things simpler for everyone, I present what I feel is the ideal IFC Recruitment Policy:

Interfraternity Council Recruitment Policy

    1. Chapters are responsible for their own success
    2. Chapters must follow all applicable laws as well as IFC and University Policies
    3. Chapters may not offer money or gifts in exchange for the acceptance of a bid

That’s it.
Need a breakdown?

1. It’s not IFC’s job to recruit for chapters, nor should chapters rely on IFC to recruit for them. If a chapter wants the best men on campus, then they need to identify them, befriend them, and recruit them. Chapters who wait to get a list from IFC are immediately limiting their pool of candidates, and admitting their recruitment apathy and/or incompetence. For more information on the importance of a chapter recruiting for themselves, and resources on how to do it, check out my friends at Phired Up Productions and CAMPUSPEAK Recruitment Bootcamp.

2. Worried about your chapters using alcohol or drugs in recruitment? I can promise you that if you live in the United States, you have a law on the books that prevents the consumption of alcohol by individuals under 21. If your IFC is even somewhat functional, they will have a similar policy as well. The same applies for illegal drugs.

But what about guys 21 or over?
– Do you really think that a man over the age of 21 going to be convinced to join a fraternity because they gave him some booze?
– How many men over the age of 21 are you actually recruiting?
– Personally, I’m perfectly fine with a group of adults of legal drinking age want to get together and discuss joining a fraternity over a drink.

3. Don’t buy a bid. Self explanatory, right?

————

So, what do you think? Can this work? Am I missing something? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Post to Twitter

Stopping Bad Behavior; a Lesson from Cigarettes

Unfortunately, many fraternity and sorority chapters are plagued with destructive behavior that threatens not only their existence, but the survival of their (inter)national organization, their campus fraternity and sorority community, and the entire fraternal movement. This behavior often violates the risk management policies that are in place to keep the chapter and it’s members safe. Yet, certain customs, traditions, and ritual are so ingrained within the culture of the chapter that it seems impossible to eradicate such behavior.

Luckily, there are many examples of massive shifts in societal norms that we can learn from. I happen to think that our fraternities and sororities have a lot to learn from the longstanding relationship our country has had with cigarettes.  Feel free to substitute and destructive behavior as binge drinking, hazing, homophobia, racism, sexism, sexual abuse, drugs, etc. as you read this post.

Acceptance

– During the period during and after World War 2, roughly 44-47% of all Americans smoked cigarettes. It was an accepted behavior, and was even glorified and directly marketed by our doctors. Our favorite television and radio shows were sponsored by the likes of Laramie and Lucky Strike. After all, tobacco has been America’s number one cash crop for hundreds of years. Cigarette use was celebrated as a part of our society. (source)

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." -Dean Wormer

– Likewise, within our fraternities and sororities, many of our negative behaviors have been glorified in our popular culture, and celebrated by our members who were more than willing to live up to these stereotypes. Unfortunately, these behaviors are sometimes labeled as “boys being boys” and “girls being girls”, swept under the rug, and/or completely ignored, hoping they would go away on their own. These negative behaviors defined the fraternity and sorority experience in years past, and to a lesser extent, define our organizations today.

 

Addiction

– Cigarettes hurt and kill people. If you choose to regularly smoke cigarettes, there’s a pretty good chance they will kill you. Cigarettes are an addiction that is very difficult to quit. In fact, smoking cessation has become a billion dollar industry (source). The million dollar question then becomes, “Why do people choose to start in the first place?”.

– Our negative behaviors hurt and kill people. If you do not follow your fraternity or sorority’s risk management policy, there’s a pretty good chance somebody is going to get hurt, or even worse. In fact, many companies make a healthy profit off of teaching our members about making better decisions, and our headquarters and host institutions spend a lot of money on these efforts. The million dollar question then becomes, “Why do these behaviors still exist?”.

 

Education

– In 1950, the first major research studies were brought forth linking smoking to lung cancer (source). For the first time, the American public was being educated on the dangers of smoking, and the negative repercussions thereof. Over the years, more and more research was done to highlight negative effects such as second hand smoke, nicotine addiction, and chemicals within the cigarettes themselves. People began to realized that this behavior can harm or even kill themselves and the ones that they love.

– There are an immeasurable amount of individuals, and organizations dedicated to educating our fraternity and sorority communities on the dangers of our negative behaviors. The research has been, and continues to be done, the message is being delivered, and the support mechanisms are in place. So why do we still have so many problems related to bad behavior amongst fraternity and sorority members?

 

The Silent Majority with a Healthy Intolerance

– Even before the public was educated on the dangers of smoking, the majority of Americans chose not to smoke. However, it wasn’t until they had the facts on their side, that these individuals chose to stand up to the cigarette industry. Over the past sixty years or so, Americans have developed a healthy intolerance for cigarettes. The number of Americans who smoke dropped from 47% to  21% (source). It is because this once silent majority decided to stand up and be heard that we now enjoy such pleasures as smoke free restaurants, bars, offices, parks, and airplanes.

– The majority of our fraternity and sorority members know that hazing, alcohol abuse, drugs and the like are a danger to our organizations. Yet, very few individuals possess the will to speak up against such behaviors. Knowing the facts, should these individuals choose to ban together an develop a healthy intolerance for idiotic behavior within our chapters, there is no doubt that great change would follow.

 

No Mercy

The cigarette companies are on the ropes. Their once strong and faithful consumer base has turned against them. Backroom lobbying and sweetheart deals are being exposed, citizens are taking to the streets against these corporate giants, victims are winning battles in court, and even our government is taking measures to prevent tobacco use (sometimes in dramatic fashion). An all out battle is being waged against the cigarette companies from all directions. In sixty years, these companies have gone from providers of a healthy, hip product, to merchants of death. With the education being provided, and the support systems in place to stop this negative behavior, all excuses have been removed. If you choose to smoke, you are doing so knowing full well that it will hurt or kill you.

– We should carry this same no mercy attitude within our fraternities and sororities. Our chapter members, headquarters, host institutions, advisors, alumni, parents, and all of our other constituents must remain focus on eleminating these behaviors through education, a healthy intolerance, and by providing a support system that encourages alternative behavior. With the education being provided, and the support systems in place to stop this negative behavior, all excuses have been removed. If you choose to engage in destructive behavior, you are doing so knowing full well that it will hurt or kill you or your members.

Have a comment? Leave it here.

 

Post to Twitter

Hazing in the NFL: It Can Stop Tomorrow

Fraternities and sororities have long drawn criticism as a result of our shared history of hazing. Despite the positive progress we have made to eliminate this inane, harmful practice, we still have  a long way to go. The practice of hazing, however, is not limited to our organizations, it takes many different forms across many different arenas.

Recently, Dallas Cowboy’s rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant’s made headlines when he refused to carry the pads of his teammate, and fellow receiver, Roy Williams. This rookie rite of passage is just one example in a long line of blatant hazing incidents occurring in the NFL. From tying rookies to goalposts, giving them embarrassing haircuts, and forcing them to sing songs whenever mandated, it’s clear to see that not only is hazing occurring in the NFL, but it is being condoned by veterans, coaches, broadcasters, and the league itself.

Every single state which currently hosts an NFL franchise has anti-hazing laws on the books. Though they vary slightly, most laws generally align with the definition provided by StopHazing.org which reads;

““Hazing” refers to any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”

Recognizing that these actions being perpetuated against NFL rookies are clearly incidents of hazing, the focus must shift to the prevention of such actions.

The league has the opportunity to take action to eliminate the long-standing hazing culture of the NFL; and it can be done tomorrow. It simply takes the actions of one man, Roger Goodell, the current NFL Commissioner. As Commissioner, Goodell is responsible for enforcing the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. This policy clearly labels criminal activities (of which hazing is considered) as “prohibited conduct”.

Goodell has become known as a no-nonsense commissioner, who cracks down on any violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, just ask Ben Roethlisberger, Pacman Jones, or Michael Vick. Yet, to my knowledge, Goodell has been silent on these nonsensical, and illegal initiatory rites. If he so chooses, he could take a stand to eliminate hazing in the NFL by holding the offenders accountable. Be it through fines, suspensions, forfeit of salary or some other measure, Goodell could set the tone that the NFL will no longer tolerate hazing.

If condemnation is not the course of action taken by the Commissioner, then consent is the only other alternative. There is no gray area when it comes to hazing. Illegal is illegal. By failing to condemn hazing, Goodell is condoning hazing.

Dez Bryant took a bold stand, declaring that, “I was drafted to play football, not carry another player’s pads.”

He was supported by his coach, Wade Phillips, who said, “They’re a player on your team. They’re not any less or any more than anybody else. I like for them to be treated like anybody else.”

The time to end hazing in the NFL is upon us, and thankfully, Dez Bryant was strong enough to take a stand, and make this an issue of public awareness.

Mr. Goodell, the ball is in your court, and yours alone. I’m looking at you to make the right decision by holding your players accountable to the policies of the league, and the letter of the law. If you so choose, the hazing culture of the NFL can be eliminated tomorrow.

So how does this apply to us as fraternity and sorority members? We are constantly fighting the internal battle to eliminate hazing amongst our ranks, as well as the external public relations battle to shake the hazing label that has been placed upon our organizations. Advocating for the elimination of hazing is a mission that all of us should commit too. Fraternity and sorority members must become the outspoken voices against hazing not just within our own organizations, but within organizations of any size, scope, or affiliation. We must become the leaders in the movement to eliminate hazing in all forms within our society.

Have a comment? Leave it here.

Post to Twitter