As a distinguished member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., a college-based Greek Letter Fraternity, I am elated our leadership has chosen to finally combat the practice of hazing in our beloved organization. While I was being initiated into the organization, I never understood the behavior of some members who chose to physically punished the organization’s new initiates. I was very measured in how much punishment I would accept. As Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., (PBS), steps forward as one of the first Greek Letter Fraternities or Sororities to launch a national media campaign against hazing, I am proud to be a member of such an organization. Too many individuals have accidentally died being initiated into these male, female, black, white organizations. And, fraternities and sororities have paid too much money – in lawsuits – to the families of injured or killed initiates. Hopefully, hazing as a mode of behavior for some individuals is finally a barbaric action of the past.
I never “gave wood” (my fraternal brothers would know what I mean) to anyone. It was my belief intellectually challenging a new initiate thinking was the best form of expanding his mind to the possibilities of word play. For example “knocking down the wall” not meaning physically pushing the wall over, but instead tapping on the wall from the top to the bottom. I witnessed many members who “gave and received wood” lack, miserably, in their commitment to our organization over the years. So, what was the purpose of physical hazing? Why are most of these organizations operating with about 15% of their initiated members financial or active in their activities? With the high-profile Florida A&M University hazing incident front and center in the news, I trust individuals will think carefully before using force or hazing to accept individuals into their organizations. I have always felt that anyone responsible for injuring a new initiate should be expelled from our organization. I am happy to see that day has come.
As the members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. launch our national Public Service Campaign on anti-hazing on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., my hope is that several of the other Greek Letter Fraternities and Sororities will follow our lead. Hazing as a behavior to justify one’s membership into our fraternity must stop.