On Monday, Sept. 21, an anti-hazing speaker came to speak at Memorial Chapel in an attempt to broaden awareness and combat the problem of hazing at Union.
The speaker, although lively and at times comical in her delivery, was bold, presumptuous and disrespectful.
She opened her speech by asking for volunteers to step forward and give their definition of pledging.
Greek life, as we know, has a strong presence at Union, and is all too often criticized according to the stereotypes that are attached to sorority and fraternity life in general.
The speaker was not only an obvious critic, but also critical of the remainder of the Union College population.
Her repeated remarks about Union students not understanding what it is like to deal with financial troubles was a generalization that didn’t go unnoticed.
Apart from that, however, it seemed to me that the speaker was denouncing hazing, while in fact hazing the volunteers that struggled to answer her questions.
The speaker called upon a junior fraternity brother to explain the pledging process.
His answer, very much a textbook definition, was straightforward and satisfactory; for the speaker, however, it was just the opposite.
She proceeded to grill him with questions, undermining his answer and calling him out for inconsistencies.
This caused the audience to feel uncomfortable and also sympathetic toward the student who did an extremely good job of remaining calm and respectfully answering her questions.
Her pointed questions and the way she made people feel uncomfortable was all too similar to hazing, especially by her definition.
The rest of her presentation consisted of a slide show with ten reasons why the pledging process is hazing, and why it is so dangerous.
The audience, primarily comprised of members of Greek life, was too familiar with the seemingly categorical dangers of hazing.
I was actually expecting a new approach to an old issue.
As her slide show went on, she showed pictures of herself hazing new members. She was outward in her confessions of participating in the act she was condemning.
While I see how her confessions could have made her speech more powerful because of the identification factor, her delivery of this strategy, instead, undermined her authority and made her seem hypocritical.
Particularly, her crude remark about feeding a hot dog to an older sister of her sorority that she had spit on and rubbed under her arm in addition to other repulsive places, definitely startled some sleeping audience members, but was contradictory to the message she was trying to relay.
At times, I questioned whether she was endorsing hazing by giving people ideas, or if she was condemning it for the damage it causes.
Although she showed images of physical wounds that students received from hazing, and gave statistics about the emotional damage people develop as a result of hazing, the other parts of her presentation were more memorable.
Because of this, her contradictory and hypocritical anecdotes were what people left talking about rather than the reasons people shouldn’t haze. She did not achieve the job that she came to do.
The presentation, despite being an hour too long, was ineffective in giving an adequate definition of hazing.
While hazing is undoubtedly a problem at all schools with sports teams and Greek life (i.e. every school), it is a problem that needs to be conquered from the inside.
A stranger coming to a college and disrespecting the student population will not combat hazing in the same way that a group of students who are advocating for a movement against it will.
Hazing is disgusting, dangerous and immature.
If we, as a student body, attempt to rid our campus of such stupid acts, then Greek life, especially, will have a better reputation and image to observers.
A speaker that everyone is “required” to go to isn’t going to end a decade-long issue that is ingrained in the structure of all initiation processes, whatever that extent may be.
Be proactive and stop hazing when we see it.