A message to all of my fellow Greeks
48 years ago Shannon Leonard Comments Off on A message to all of my fellow Greeks
It is not my intent to preach to anyone today, point any fingers or cast blame. Rather, I am writing because I see so much potential in all of our lives and for our positive influence on the lives of others. For each of us, and for each of our chapter members, I want the Greek experience to be one that enhances our lives. I truly believe we can do great things — there are so many needs out there, and as a Greek system, a group of individuals working toward a similar goal, we have the capacity to make significant contributions to our university, the local community and beyond. Now, I know from experience that this issue of hazing is a difficult one to address. It’s the kind of topic that makes people shift around in their chairs, fidget and try to think about something else–and if all else fails, leave the room so you don’t have to think about it. Well, I would like to challenge you to consider why that is. Why are we so uncomfortable talking or thinking about this issue? Why do we silence discussion of this issue by avoiding it or denying its existence? If hazing isn’t a problem, then why can’t we talk about it openly? Why the secrecy and silence? If hazing is an important and valuable part of fraternity and sorority life, why do we attempt to hide it? Philanthropy activities and outstanding scholarship are not kept hidden, so why do we hide the outstanding hazing activities? If hazing is truly an effective means of establishing bonds of brother and sisterhood, building trust and fostering respect, then why aren’t we promoting these techniques to other groups or systems? Alright, you may think I’m being a bit sarcastic, but I’m really very serious. I was thinking about leadership, challenging my own assumptions and trying to look at things from different angles in order to see them in new ways. As I thought about this for a minute I came back to a question that often arises when I talk with others about the issue of hazing. “What is it about hazing that causes so many to be so committed to sustaining its so called ‘tradition’?” In choosing to become a member of a fraternity or sorority, we’ve become members of a brotherhood or sisterhood that stands for much more than a group of individuals living together and socializing through our college experiences. Becoming a brother or sister means we’ve become part of a community that offers many opportunities, a community that goes beyond “friend” and calls its members brother and sister. But what do we really mean by that? Do our actions match our rhetoric? Leadership, sisterhood, brotherhood, character, scholarship and community service; these are the ideals that come to mind when I think of the true meaning of fraternities and sororities. These are the ideals that have contributed to the strength and promise of Greek life on our college campuses. These are the ideals adopted by the creeds and rituals that form the foundation upon which each of our organizations was built. Hazing contributes to the decay by destroying the spirit and diminishing the dignity of our membership. The ideals that are advocated to the public, the words memorized and recited. Have they become hollow and meaningless?The answers to these questions will determine the survival or downfall of the Greek system over the next decade. We hold that future in our hands today. As leaders and members of the Greek system, we have an opportunity to make a difference and to show we care. We have the opportunity to reconstruct a new framework for Greek life at Sam and beyond. We have the opportunity and influence to empower others and transform a system. Or we can just accept things the way they are, settle for the status quo and strive for nothing more than what we see today. It is a decision we need to make and it is urgent! We hold the future of the Greek system in our hands. We can choose to be part of a transformation, a move toward positive change…OR NOT. But remember, indecision is a decision and holds consequences for our chapter, the entire system and us. As leaders in our chapters, we carry a burden of responsibility that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. Our actions (or inaction) have an impact on people’s lives. In what ways do we want our leadership to impact others? How would we like to be remembered for our leadership in five, 10, 20 years?