Let’s bring back that old school ‘haze’

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When I initially wrote my article, I was very flippant with my word choice; I chose to elicit emotional response to get my point across.  After reading Kimbrough’s response, I now see what was intended as a communal conversation has moved into an academic discourse. In light of this, to quote Young Hovi: “Allow me to re-introduce myself.”

  I argued that there were beneficial outcomes from what is currently considered hazing.  In doing so, I did not display the professionalism necessary to make such claims.  I did not research the history of hazing and pledging.  Nor did I research my claim of how NPHC works. 

Mr. Walter Kimbrough disagreed with my argument.  He said that hazing was wrong, and I was misguided in my beliefs.  So, let me offer a clarification:  I have been taught that all aspects of the above-ground process, and the hazing and pledging it implies, minus the probate show, are wrong and illegal. I have a problem with that dogma, and I think we should talk about it.

Because of the action’s illegality, a 100% live conversation is difficult, in the same way a person can’t enter into a discussion about the legalization of marijuana without giving the impression that person has smoked.  So, regardless if my ideas are correct, I’m scared to speak. But Kimbrough wrote back, so…

Right now, as far as I see it, anything that is outside of the organization’s official intake process is hazing.  This absolutist stance rests in liability coverage.  After all, we are all part of a business, right? But, does that mean that there is nothing good on the other side of the business wall?  Are there items of importance and relevance that could be salvaged from the toxic wasteland of the above-ground process? 

I don’t exactly know what those items are, but I hope far smarter people than myself will start looking.  Kimbrough never addresses this topic.  Rather, he decides to pick apart my chain of logic, without confronting my end result.  That’s like arguing with Mapquest about a particular route, when the only important thing is to get there.

I am in full agreement with Kimbrough about physical or emotional violence.  None of our organizations should have any space for actions like that. We are not supposed to hurt people. This, I repeat, is not the goal. After doing some random research about the “purpose of pledging,” I stumbled across Baylor University’s Greek Life website.  It said,

“The goal of the pledge process is to build unity, develop teamwork, cultivate loyalty, togetherness, communication, respect, courage, and a huge sense of accomplishment.”  If it’s good enough for Baylor, then its good enough for me.

The current intake process does not, in my humble opinion, foster this “huge sense of accomplishment,” because building a sense of loyalty had to move to the underground sub-culture of criminality. 

Kimbrough agrees that the process should be examined, but asks more specifically, “…what is the goal of intake?  When it works, what’s the quantifiable end product?” The quantifiable end product of intake is something akin to catching “the spirit.”  You don’t know how you get it, but when you got it, you know it. To run with this image, is there a metric for seeing respect in a brother’s eyes?  Can someone please tell me, why is having young people with a sense of accomplishments, considered hazing and therefore illegal?  Having the line lock-up, and march around campus to go to class every day does not injure anyone, but does help to build camaraderie.

N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-35 (2007) states “hazing is defined as follows: ‘to subject another student to physical injury as part of an initiation, or as a prerequisite to membership, into any organized school group, including any society, athletic team, fraternity or sorority, or other similar group.”  But under the current regulations, not a single Black Greek can have their pledges locked up in broad daylight.

But I know of some white Fraternity’s at UNC-Greensboro that did in the early 2000’s, without so much as a blinking of an eye.

Kimbrough asks what is the point of “memorizing history, poems and songs; dressing alike to foster unity; developing group consciousness.”  He answers his own question later in the article when he asks what do these things have to do with “completing the goals and objectives of the organization?”

The goals and objectives he refers to are some of the national programs of Alpha Phi Alpha, for example the Big Brother program, which Kimbrough is a member of.  However, I am referring to a different type of goal and objective—the positive growth of a young person.  Giving a young man or woman the opportunity to earn something outright.  To create a bond that is strong enough to last a lifetime, so even when the individual isn’t financial or active, the organization is still with the individual. 

On the one hand, I agree with Kimbrough when he said, “the fundamental flaw of our membership process is that you do all the work to get in, and then you have no accountability.”

On the other hand though, while it is a major flaw, I don’t think that’s the fundamental flaw.  The fundamental flaw is that we only require a few weekends to make a lifetime commitment. From this perspective then, our current process is the chick at the club we got pregnant the very first night. 

And then following Kimbrough’s idea of no accountability, now we’re full of deadbeat dads.  I also agree with Kimbrough when he says we should look at ourselves in order to fix our organizations, instead of our incoming members.  Before we bring in new blood, let’s take a look at ours.  In these tight economic and spiritual times, I feel that any investments made should be to the self before the other.  Kimbrough suggests, “Instead of our obsession with how people get in, we need to focus on selecting (not trying to make) good people, and how to address those who consistently fall short.”  I’m with that. 

Is Kimbrough suggesting a temporary moratorium while we re-examine our intake process?  Or is he offering a period of open enrollment?  While we are examining our own stench, are we to continue to allow a process that is made of recycled sewage?  Kimbrough indirectly raises these questions, but never offers a solution. 

The above-ground pledges learned poems and dressed alike and had mandatory study sessions.   

The end results of these actions are not a hallucination.  I know the benefits of what you call “hazing.”   

The evidence lies in the stories of people who’ve been pledged into BLGO’s, and are credits to society.  With each subtle texture the story lends, a more complete picture is formed.  And yet, it seems these very stories are classified as irrelevant and grossly irresponsible in the eyes of what I like to call, “The Old Guard.”  

So no Mr. Kimbrough, my thoughts are not a “haphazard attempt to make chicken salad from chicken sh*t.”  My thoughts are me, simply stating, “Please stop defecating on my chicken salad.” 

  • Anjan Basu