State of Sewanee: It’s time to talk about hazing

By Garrett Lucey and Mary Margaret Murdock
Contributing Writers

In our opinion, one of the biggest problems that Greek Life faces is hazing. As members of Greek organizations, the perpetuation of this problem is entirely our fault. Some say that hazing is not all bad, as it shapes people into who they’re supposed to be and bonds pledge classes together. We disagree entirely with this perspective. In recent years, sororities have made progress in the new member education process and have largely made it a meaningful freshman experience.

However, this progress has failed to have been mirrored by fraternities at Sewanee. Hazing at Sewanee is real, and it exists essentially entirely on the men’s side. It has long been a “hush hush” thing, where both men and women don’t want to talk about or face its negative effects. In a place where community is of utmost importance, we have have stop intentionally hurting each other in basements and secret rooms and allowing others to do this to valuable members of this community.

There is nothing positive associated with hazing, though it comes with a plethora of negative effects, such as substance abuse, poor academic performance, unhealthy relationships, and inadequate sleep. A young man’s experience being hazed and the negative effects that are associated with it have great potential to have consequences for them far beyond the gates.

As sisters and brothers, intentionally hurting one another and keeping new members from reaching their full potential does not make sense. If we put the same amount of time into destroying freshmen’s lives as we did into something like our philanthropy work, we could truly achieve some incredible things as a community. As members of the Sewanee Greek community, it is time we stop breaking each other down and instead start building each other up and loving each other, because why would we do anything else?

There are certainly things we could do better, but there are many things we are doing well, a point we have tried to emphasize all year. What the administration often does not see are the changes we have adopted ourselves. The drinking culture seems to be less intense and harmful than when we crossed through the gates as freshmen. In the span of four years, we have seen the consumption of liquor decline year after year. It also seems that friends take better care of each other and it is less often that friends encourage their friends to drink to excess. These conversations have been driven by student leaders, many of which are members of our Greek community. There is not a doubt in our mind that our community is stronger than ever and will continue to be strengthened in the coming years.

We love Sewanee. We would not be doing the work we do if we didn’t. As a Greek community, we need to continue to address the drinking culture, sexual assault, and mental health, and start to understand that hazing has no place in the Sewanee community.

There are challenges yet to come, as local Greek organizations become their own separate legal entities and increases in insurance and membership prices. Sewanee Greek life is important, and is for better or worse the backbone of social life. There are few social spaces that have the ability to hold mass amounts of people other than Greek houses. Also, Greek events are one of the only frequent and recurring weekend social activities. But Greek life has more than merely social implications. It also has strong positive effects of enrollment and retention, drawing prospective students to Sewanee and keeping them here beyond first semester freshman year.

As the Greek community, we all have an obligation to ensure that we provide our members with a strong, inclusive, diverse, and meaningful experience. Greek life at Sewanee is powerful, and if it continues to work t powerfully for good, then Sewanee is in good hands. It will require us to be open and honest with administration, as well as the administration being open and honest with us. We are grateful to have served Sewanee as the Presidents of ISC/IFC and look forward to the accomplishments of the newly elected ISC/IFC councils.


One comment

  1. Garrett and Mary Margaret, I have seldom been more impressed by an essay about Greek life. I completely agree! Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, and for your leadership!

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