GO BEYOND “THESE HANDS DON’T HAZE”
National Hazing Prevention Week is recognized with programs, banners and hashtags across college campuses in North America. “These Hands Don’t Haze” has become an unofficial motto of the commitment students make to not participate in hazing.
But, what does that actually mean?
YOUR WORDS, ACTIONS AND SYSTEMS
“These Hands Don’t Haze” paints a picture that hazing is physical, but data shows mental forms of hazing are more common. The most-reported hazing activities for social fraternities and sororities were connected to forced/encouraged alcohol consumption, unnecessary chanting or screaming and sleep deprivation (Allen & Madden, 2008).
Social hierarchies create power dynamics and—while hopefully unintentional—can lead to problematic behaviors and environments. It’s easy to identify violence or bullying as hazing and over seemingly harmless behaviors that have the potential to be destructive—to both the new member and the new member’s relationship with the Fraternity.
Unkindness and power dynamics create an environment which allows for hazing. With this in mind, initiated members should be mindful of their intent and tone. Ask yourself: Is what I’m saying or doing helpful or harmful to a new member’s development?
HAZING IS DANGEROUS
Hazing can be both physically and psychologically dangerous. The National Student of Student Hazing recently found that 55 percent of college students have experienced some form of hazing related to a student organization. No form of hazing—regardless of severity—should be tolerated.
SECRETS DON’T MAKE FRIENDS
To build excitement, initiated members might think it’s to harmless hide details or give false information about an event. However, this can create an unintentional sense of fear, stress and distrust for new members. This type of environment can be physiologically damaging and open the door for further harmful behaviors. Highly secretive environments should be avoided—they prevent open conversations about authentic member experiences.
SHARING YOUR WHY
New members are experiencing a lot in a short period of time (e.g., moving away from home, starting college, making new friends, etc.). Keeping up with what is secret vs. not can be a lot to keep up with, so share the details of what is secret and what is not. By sharing the why behind the secrecy of things like Ritual and “chapter room secrecy” can help ease weariness and confusion.
It’s also important to consider why each required event or request is important when planning activities. Ask yourself: Is this meaningful or will it make new members unnecessarily busy or stressed?
WE BELONG TOGETHER
Avoid creating cliques and grouping members by when they joined. This allows members to build a wide variety of relationships and contributes to overall belongingness.
This National Hazing Prevention Week, I encourage you to think beyond “These Hands Don’t Haze.” While it’s the first step in evaluating the environment in our chapters and the new member experience, we can push further to evaluate our systems, conversations and education practices.
When it comes to expectations, traditions and social experiences, it is essential they all contribute to a safe and healthy member experience. Remember, no member needs to earn a spot in Alpha Gam.
If you have experienced or witnessed hazing, you can report it anonymously.
Click here to report through Alpha Gamma Delta International Headquarters.
Click here to report through Fraternal Law.
Call the Anti-Hazing Hotline 24/7 at 888.668.4293.
You may also contact Fraternity Wellness directly at email@example.com.
This post was written by Trevor Holland–Lambda Chi Alpha. Trevor is the Graduate Intern–Wellness and Harm Prevention for the Fraternity and a graduate student at Iowa State University.