Hazing in any form is detrimental, destructive

Last Monday was Sept. 15, which marked eight years since I made the life-changing decision to “Go Greek.” That evening I pledged myself to the Lambda Gamma chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity at Edinboro University. I was a na’ve freshman looking to make something of my college “experience.” Unfortunately for me, eight years from the date this article will be published marks the date that my future fraternity brothers started hazing me. I’m sure some readers of this article will laugh or write me off with some emasculating label, but two bouts with alcohol poisoning, a broken tailbone and a 1.8 first semester GPA should be enough to prove that hazing did not make my fraternity “experience” stronger.

This week marks National Hazing Prevention Week at college and university campuses across the country. The week is not a time to go on symbolic witch hunts looking for another fraternity hazing its members, but it is a time to generate awareness of the fact that hazing has no place at Miami University nor any other institution of higher learning. You may now be asking why we need another awareness or prevention week. The answer is simple. Hazing is a scourge facing high schools and colleges across the country that has slowly become accepted as part of the “experience” of many organizations: sports teams, military groups, marching bands and fraternities and sororities. Contrary to the beliefs of many, research disproves the notion that hazing builds stronger members or builds camaraderie or solidarity.

There is a wide spectrum of hazing that extends from demeaning nicknames to pointless activities to physical and mental abuse. There is no such thing as acceptable hazing versus unacceptable hazing. All hazing violates the rules and policies of many national organizations, violates Miami policy and is illegal in the state of Ohio, as well as 43 other states. Taking cell phones from students pledging a fraternity does nothing to build better fraternity members, students or men-just as being forced to drink obscene amounts of cheap beer did not make me more loyal to my chapter.

Hazing goes beyond violating rules, policies and laws. More importantly, hazing violates the concepts of civility and human dignity, which transcend the Miami University values statement and are tenets of our larger society. Where membership groups like ROTC, marching bands and fraternities and sororities are about building individuals, hazing does little more than tear individuals down. Hazing is about dominance and asserting that one person is better than another. It does not “come with the territory” of joining any group, nor should it be assumed to be part of any membership “experience.”

How do we end this disease our society has come to accept and ignore? We can start by admitting that hazing is counterproductive to the goals and missions of our university and our organizations. The true leaders of these organizations will take a stand to hold one another accountable to the principles and beliefs of our organizations’ founders, as well as the basic values of our society. With personal responsibility comes less need for rules, policies and laws. The choice is yours-you can act or you can ignore.

Please take this week to contemplate how you can work with your peers to eliminate hazing from Miami and our society at large. Take a stand to eliminate trivial and useless practices and take additional time to create ways to develop members and leaders, rather than exercise dominance and disrespect. Hopefully down the road you too can look back as I have and see that it was the positive experiences that made me who I am, not the juvenile antics I was forced to do in order to join my fraternity.

Scott IrlbacherAssistant DirectorCliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life & Leadershipirlbacs@muohio.edu

Natural disasters should make us rethink embargo

In the summer of 1999, a series of devastating earthquakes struck Turkey and then Greece. In the wake of this tragedy, an act of God gave way to acts of human kindness that allowed the countries to reconcile decades of animosity. This year in the Caribbean, hurricanes Gustav and Ike have left a trail of devastation from Haiti and Cuba through to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The human cost of these acts of God has been relatively low, but an act of man and the U.S. government is placing thousands of lives in danger. Cuba has been devastated. Ninety-thousand homes have been totally destroyed, a further 430,000 seriously damaged and nearly 2 million left homeless. To this tragedy is added the sad truth that our government has allowed a wall to be built between our people and those of Cuba. The Cuban Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC) has asked their counterparts abroad to call upon the U.S. government to end our embargo so that food and building supplies may be purchased for those in need. Although I am neither an artist nor a writer, a sense of Christian decency compels me to call upon my fellow citizens to in turn call upon our government to tear down the wall that has been erected between the Cuban people and us.

It is for this reason that I ask all those reading this to write to their elected representatives to ask that our embargo of the Cuban nation be suspended so that further tragedy may be averted.

Adam Stantstantaa@muohio.edu