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THINGS WE WISH COLLEGIANS WOULD ASK US: HAZING PREVENTION WEEK 

The following post was written by Shaleeah Smith, Gamma Omicron–Eastern Kentucky University. Shaleeah is the Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at Bucknell University and serves on the Harm Prevention Committee for Alpha Gamma Delta.

As an on-campus fraternity and sorority advisor, I have sat through quite a few hazing investigations and I find myself thinking “Did you ask anyone before you decided to make this decision?” So, here are some questions that we–as advisors–really wish you would ask. Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches if you just ask first. 

How do we create REAL change in our chapter, especially since there are still members who support/want to continue our unsafe traditions? 

This is an easy one. The chapter should let those members who want to haze go. You’ll never be able to create real change while members are still championing a hazing culture within the chapter.   

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How do we confront alumnae who continue to support and encourage unsafe traditions? 

Confronting those alumnae can be the worst, am I right? 

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In all seriousness, some alumnae believe every new member must undergo the same new member experience. Some go out of their way to ensure the chapter is maintaining the unsafe traditions they were part of in college. Yes, alumnae can be extremely helpful, BUT if they’re part of the problem then they must go too! In order to have a positive, healthy environment for the new members and chapter, you have to fill the space with positive supporters providing healthy and safe guidance. 

How do we know members have “earned” their membership without hazing them? 

Last I checked, there wasn’t anything in the Ritual stating new members must be hazed in order to become an initiated member. 

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New members “earned” their membership when the chapter extend their bid. That’s it. They have nothing left to prove. Yes, they will still complete their new member education–Embark in the Epsilon Pi Journey. This programming does not involve hazing. Sisterhood has never been about creating an unsafe, uncomfortable and unwelcoming environment. As Alpha Gams, it is your responsibility to show new members that Alpha Gamma Delta is Loving Leading Lasting. 

Ok, so we might do some stuff, but it’s not super bad. What’s next? 

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Time to do a traditions audit! This is a review of everything you do as a chapter with your new members, a group of members or even the entire chapter. Here are some questions to ask about each chapter tradition to determine if it stays, needs tweaked or should just go. 

  • Does this tradition empower and uplift our members before, during and after the activity or event? 
  • Do we openly talk about this tradition with our advisors, campus professional staff members, while we recruit new members and our family members? If no, it’s time for a change. 
  • Does this tradition quiz, test or question members? If yes, this could be a negative tradition. Often the goal of this is to have fun and learn Fraternity and chapter education. There are a lot of other ways to do this in a positive way to not single out a group of members or new members (Big/Little or family Jeopardy, Kahoot quiz, etc.). 
  • Can this tradition cause physical, emotional or physiological trauma? We need to think about our sisters. All chapter activities should support positive selfcare and wellbeing. This includes leaving out information about planned events even if we are trying to “surprise” them. A surprise event causes unnecessary stress and makes our members and new members nervous and uncomfortable leading up to the event. 
  •  Does this tradition ask an individual or group of members to complete tasks in order to prove their dedication or loyalty as a rite of passage? 

Alright, but how do we move these traditions to focus on sisterhood and still make them fun? 

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Great question! This is where you can be creative and focus on connecting your sisterhood activities to building belonging within the chapter. Belonging involves a sense of connection that goes beyond friendships. Women who think of sisterhood in this way often describe their sorority sisters as “family” and their sorority as their “home away from home.” Start by reviewing your chapter’s Alpha Gam Sisterhood Survey report and then utilizing the Sisterhood and Team Building Guide linked at the end of the report and here for ideas to get started. 

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