Shaw: A Light Punishment?
By Yesuto Shaw, Guest Columnist
Published on Monday, February 11, 2013
Even though I am away from Dartmouth this term, I have still been following the conversations regarding the hazing-related sanctions recently given to Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. It seems that many people believe that these punishments, which included three terms of College probation starting this winter, were too light. Some have even speculated that the administration did not mete out harsher punishments to Alpha Phi Alpha because it is currently the only predominately black fraternity on campus. However, those setting forth this speculation are missing some crucial information.
When I originally talked to the Greek Letter Organizations and Societies office last October, the new, stricter policies on hazing had only recently gone into effect. As I explained my situation to the director, I originally refrained from disclosing which fraternity I was hazed by and told him that I wanted to know what the consequences for the fraternity would be if I submitted a hazing report. He explained to me that the administration had decided to give all Greek organizations a short grace period of one month after the new policies were put into effect.
During this grace period, GLOS would give lighter punishments to Greek organizations that came forward and admitted hazing or to those that were accused of hazing. The consequences of reporting hazing would primarily be focused on educating the organizations on how to make initiation procedures more positive and beneficial for new members. I was told, near the end of October, that the grace period would end and that I could choose to submit my report either during the grace period or after it had ended.
I chose the former option. I chose to report Alpha Phi Alpha with assurances that the (previously undisclosed) fraternity I reported would not be derecognized, but would have their consequences more focused on education than on punishment. I chose this route because I did not want to see Alpha Phi Alpha removed from Dartmouth’s campus. I had grown to respect the organization and I thought that it was good that the organization exists for students who want to be a part of it. When I was hazed, my general opinion on the organization did not change because of what I believe to have been behind the hazing.
It is my opinion that the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha thought that they were doing some good to the pledges by initiating us in the way that they did. I believe that they thought that a difficult pledge process was necessary to build character and camaraderie within the fraternity. However, I disagree with the way that they went about this. And, when I expressed my views, I was told that I could not be part of the fraternity any other way and that they would continue initiating future pledge lines with the same, arguably abusive, process. When I saw that I, alone, could not get through to them, I decided that the administration, as well as public opinion, might be able to do a better job. That is the reason that I reported them and part of the reason that I wrote my original article (“Through the Looking Glass: Let the Hazing Begin,” Oct. 19, 2012). I also believe that similar reasons may be behind the hazing that still goes on at other fraternities and sororities at Dartmouth. I do not believe that all of the fraternities and sororities that haze do so with bad intentions. However, whether it involves physical beatings, emotional abuse or encouraged alcohol abuse, this hazing needs to stop. And I still believe that it will only stop when the upperclassmen realize that it is harmful and that there are better options for building character and camaraderie, as well as when the pledges refuse to be put through things that harm or degrade them.
So, I hope that, due to continued conversation surrounding the issue, no more reporting of hazing will be necessary. But, if it does continue to persist, I hope that other individuals will be willing to report it to bring about necessary change. At the same time, I am glad that the Theta Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity continues to exist at Dartmouth, because I still have hope for it. And, while there are surely problems, I still have hope for the fraternities and sororities of Dartmouth at large.