March 3, 2014

Not Addressing Hazing Has ‘Serious Repercussions,’ Speaker Says

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Rick Barnes, an educational speaker on college and Greek life, said he believes the Greek system will face “serious repercussions” if the issue of hazing is not addressed during a lecture Saturday.

“People tell us out there that fraternities and sororities are absolutely the best hazers on college campuses,” said Barnes, who is a member of CAMPUSPEAK — an organization that sends keynote speakers and workshops to universities.

Although Barnes said fraternities and sororities could be the “best things” on college campuses, he said there are negative aspects to Greek life, including the way some Greek organizations conduct new member education — which he says can have “destructive effects” on new members.

Barnes said hazing must be addressed creatively and carefully, and said he believes new member education is an essential part of joining Greek life.

“You should be expected to know some stuff to join an organization,” he said. “You should be expected to do some things. You should be expected to act some certain ways … [but] is it fulfilling a goal? Do [new members] understand the purpose? Is it helping them become a better person?”

Barnes said he believes pledging a fraternity should foster unity within the entire organization — not just the pledge class.

According to Barnes, it is also important to discuss the issues surrounding “mental hazing” — anything that causes psychological harm or substantial emotional strain.“His talk [was] down to earth and not trying to shove the solution down your throat — it was more of an open discussion.” — Jamie Bradshaw ’16

Barnes said he encourages individuals who know that hazing is happening to “step up and be a leader” against hazing and said Greek chapters must hold each other accountable in order to preserve Greek life on campus.

The Chi Psi fraternity hosted Barnes — who has spoken at over 2,000 college campuses nationwide and authored five books on leadership development, according to the CAMPUSPEAK website — as part of their Anti-Hazing Symposium, according to Chi Psi President Jamie Bradshaw ’16.

The Interfraternity Council required two new members and one new member educator from each chapter to attend, Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said he hopes fraternity members came away from the talk further understanding the negative effects of hazing and why it needs to be eliminated.

“His talk [was] down to earth and not trying to shove the solution down your throat — it was more of an open discussion,” Bradshaw said. “He understands who we are as college students.”

However, Stephen Masterson ’16 said that Barnes made gendered stereotypes about hazing and drinking behaviors in his talk that “detracted” from his message.

“To say that one gender is ‘better at hazing’ than another is nonsense,” Masterson said. “If he made his talk less gender-oriented throughout, it would have been much more effective … [Gender norms] distracted the audience from what we really should have been thinking about — hazing.”