Monday, July 22, 2013

Hazed, razed, and a little dazed

What does it mean to be in a fraternity? I'll give you a hint; it has nothing to do with parties or alcohol or even hazing. Perhaps those are all things that the men of Greek fraternities are known to partake in, but they are a mere veneer, behind which lies the true beauty of a brotherhood. For a few months, I was proud to call myself a member of such an institution, but alas, a series of accusations and questionably attained evidence has led to its demise.

Before I move any further, I have one opinion about hazing and it is as follows. In our current system, fraternities are not punished for hazing, they are punished for getting caught. If any school officials truly believe that a dozen fraternities on their campus are free of hazing then I pity their ignorance. The clear message being sent by these officials is that they haven't the slightest care what occurs behind a fraternity's doors as long as they don't see it, but once they see it, the non-negotiable consequence is permanent banishment. At this rate, in a not too distant future, the Greek system at Emory will cease to exist as we know it. The school may believe that this course of action is what's best, but that is because they see the system in black and white; not in grey.

I find it incredible that an educational institution of such prestige shows no intention of education in their sanctions regarding alleged hazing activity. A precedent has been set for a four year suspension, which inevitably rules all brothers (even the most recent pledges) out of fraternity life for the duration of their undergraduate experience. The freshman pledges are not encouraged to learn from their mistakes, but rather forget about them and move on. The sentiment is clear, the school does not wish to mend the system which they clearly believe is flawed, they simply wish to make it disappear.

This past spring, I was encouraged by university students and faculty to participate in rush. They preached that it was a great opportunity to meet fellow students and become part of a social network bigger than the current student body. I went into rush not knowing what I wanted, and what I found was more profound than any book I've read or class I've taken to this day. What I found was a group of guys who appreciated me for who I was, and an institution in which I could thrive as a pledge and later as a brother. I not only completed my educational period and was initiated, but also served as the pledge class philanthropy chair and was chosen as the inter fraternity council's public relations chair. I forged relationships with upperclassmen that I likely never would have had the pleasure of meeting in my entry level classes or freshman dorm. I went places and had experiences that I know for sure I wouldn't have if I hadn't gone through the pledging process.

In the end, I guess my point isn't that the sanctions against my fraternity were unjust, or that the investigation was mishandled. My point is that because of some anonymous tip, the organization that has made me more of a man than I ever knew I could be is facing dissolution. Less sorry am I for myself and my current brothers, than I am for the ones who will never even have the chance to rush Phi Delta Theta at Emory. As our Phikeia oath declares, "I will strive in all ways to transmit the Fraternity to those who may follow after, not only not less, but greater than it was transmitted to me." Whether Emory allows it or not, I haven't the slightest intention of breaking that oath. With or without recognition, Phi Delt will always live on. It's up to the school to decide whether or not they believe in the brotherhood we've forged. One thing's for sure, I know I do.

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