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Alternatives to Hazing Continued

(Note: In Greek-letter organizations, the very term "pledge" is often equated with hazing practices. Many national organizations have sought to eliminate this term in order to foster more positive attitudes toward the new members. Some substitute terms include "associate members" and "new members."

When organizations are challenged to eliminate hazing practices, some members are often resistant to this change. In many cases, those who are most vocal against eliminating hazing are those who are bitter and angry about the hazing that they themselves endured (but don't admit this publicly) and expect that others should be abused in order to gain "true" membership in the group. You will also find that some of these folks are likely to be bullies of the group--people who enjoy a "power trip" at the expense of someone else.

Of course, if you try to eliminate hazing in your organization, you will likely encounter many elaborate reasons for why this will be devastating for your group. While there will be some staunch supporters of the status quo, there will be many who can be convinced of the negative effects and potential risks of hazing. Believers in the supposed "benefits" of hazing may be more likely to change their opinion if they can envision some alternatives. The supposed "benefits" of hazing follow in bold with non-hazing alternatives to accomplish the same goal listed alongside.

1. FOSTER UNITY: Have the members of your group/organization work together on a community service project. Visit a ropes course to work on group cohesiveness, communication and leadership skills. In fraternities and sororities with chapter houses, the group might work together on a chapter room improvement project. Another option for fostering unity without hazing is for the members to work together to plan a social or athletic event with another group.

2. DEVELOP PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITIES: Have pledges discuss chapter weaknesses such as poor rush, apathy, and poor scholarship, and plan solutions that the active chapter might then adopt.

3. DEVELOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Encourage participation in school/campus activities outside of the organization. Encourage new members to get involved in organizational committees and/or leadership roles. Develop a peer mentor program within your group for leadership roles. Invite school/community/business leaders into the organization to share their experiences.

5. INSTILL A SENSE OF MEMBERSHIP: Plan special events when the entire chapter gets together to attend a movie, play, or church service. Plan a "membership circle" when actives and pledges participate in a candlelight service in which each person has a chance to express what membership means to them.

6. PROMOTE SCHOLARSHIP: Take advantage of your school/college/ university academic and tutoring services. Designate study hours for members of your organization. Invite college/university or community experts to discuss test-taking skills, study methods, time management etc.

7. BUILD AWARENESS OF CHAPTER HISTORY: Invite an older member to talk about the chapter's early days, its founding, special chapter traditions, and prominent former members.

8. KNOWLEDGE OF THE GREEK SYSTEM: Invite leaders of IFC, Panhellenic, PanHellenic, and/or Advisers to speak on Greek governance including their goals and expectations of the Greek system.

9. AID CAREER GOALS: Use college resources for seminars on resume writing, job interview skills; various careers.

10. INVOLVE PLEDGES IN THE COMMUNITY: Get involved with campus and community service projects. Plan fund-raisers for local charitable organizations.

11. IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH OTHER GREEKS: Encourage new members to plan social or service projects with other pledge classes; work together to plan joint social or service activities.