As many of you may well know, Union has seen some scandal recently in the way of hazing allegations within our Greek system. Despite being an independent (and having given the whole Greek thing a shot before ultimately deciding it wasn’t for me), the ordeal breaks my heart. I think that our fraternity and sorority system gives so much depth to the college and I would never want to see it jeopardized by the actions of a few thoughtless individuals.
I have been to numerous Greek-sponsored charity events, seen previously complacent students turned into active campus community members through their Greek organization, and watched countless loving and supportive interactions take place between sisters, brothers, and independents alike.
That being said, hazing is an issue that should be addressed on the Union College campus and any university campus that plays host to Greek organizations.
Last week Union hosted a panel discussion called “A Better U” on hazing open to the entire campus community. Our speakers included Rick Farnham, a retired Director of Athletics at the University of Vermont, Lorin Phillips, the Assistant Executive Director for her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Hank Nuwer, the author of four books on hazing.
The discussion was interactive and student-question-based, but I think the thing that struck me the most about the evening was the vocabulary; words like “death,” “tradition,” “risky,” “wrong,” “right,” “ritual,” and “clique” buzzed through my head. I think the single most influential quote of the night was when Lorin said, “We use the word ‘tradition’ as a big excuse… it’s really just hazing and hazing is the laziest way to bond.” I know that Union has it’s traditions — and some of them are so wonderful! — but I also know that Union students are not lazy. Our students have the courage to change a culture.