Rejecting the culture of hazing and adopting a culture of achievement: A compelling choice for college students
In the fifteen months since the death of FAMU drum major, Robert Champion, despite continuing appeals, orders, and demands have been made to college students to end hazing, hazing continues to plague college campuses across America. These appeals, orders, and demands have come from parents, educators, pastors, politicians, and even from the President of the United States. While on the campaign trail in Florida last summer, President Barack Obama commented on the death of Robert Champion and expressed his intolerance of bullying by saying, “The loss of that young man’s life is heartbreaking. I think that we can’t tolerate bullying of any sort, anywhere. And when we send our young people to college we expect them to be there to learn and to get a great experience, not to be beaten.” President Obama echoed the sentiments of college and school officials across America when he asserted that we can’t tolerate bullying of any sort, anywhere. Therefore, given the destructive and costly consequences of bullying and hazing, the efforts of American’s school and college officials to deter hazing in student organizations on their campuses are certain to be greatly intensified. While the stakeholders of our schools and colleges and others justifiably demand the eradication of hazing, the important question that appears not to have been addressed is “what cultures should replace the culture of hazing?” While the answers to this question should come from the educational leaders who are responsible for shaping the educational and cultural programs of our schools and universities, there is little evidence, if any, that planning has been done to build an alternative culture to the culture of hazing. The concern among college students about what culture is going to replace the hazing culture was raised in my hearing recently when a collegian said that a number of her friends and associates are asking the question, “After hazing ends, what’s going to replace it?” While an immediate and thoughtless response to that question might be another question, “Don’t students have enough to do aside from hazing?” This writer believes that the collegian’s question deserves a more realistic and constructive answer that takes into consideration the reasons why parents send their sons and daughters to college.
Most Americans will likely agree with President Obama’s position that young people should go to college for two reasons, to learn and to acquire a great experience. Therefore, I am proposing that a culture of achievement be adopted as the alternative for the culture of hazing. College students would likely be inquisitive as to what a culture of achievement would be like. This writer contends that because the main reason for going to college is to learn, then academic achievement must be both highly valued and vigorously pursued in a new achievement culture. This attribute of the achievement culture could not be better justified than in the words of Alfred North Whitehead in his essay entitled the Aims of Education. Whitehead asserted, “In the conditions of modern life the rule is absolute, the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed.” Therefore, students who want to have a good quality of life must abandon all practices and habits that undermine their academic achievement. Now, what about that great experience that President Obama mentioned as the second reason for going to college? I would say that there are several arenas for achievement that can contribute to students getting “a great experience” in college. These arenas include but are not limited to: student organizations including athletics, creative performance including choirs, dance troupes, debaters, and marching bands, and last but not least community service. This writer is persuaded that college students will find pathways to future success if they adopt one of the following statements as their personal creed I am not a hazer but an achiever or I will not jeopardize my future achievements by submitting to hazing. Because I strongly believe that success follows achievement, I am hopeful that college leaders across America will find ways and means of motivating their students to reject the culture of hazing and adopt a culture of achievement, thereby enriching their academic environment and ensuring that their students acquire a “great experience”.
CSIE Consulting welcomes inquiries from student organizations interested in learning about the ANTIHAZE National Hazing Hotline, anti-hazing training for student leaders, hazing counseling, and other anti-hazing services. ___________________________________________________________________
Dr. Barbara K. Barnes, Professor Emeritus at Florida A&M University; President of CISE Consulting, LLC of Tallahassee, Florida; Co-founder of the ANTIHAZE National Hazing Hotline. Email address: bkb@CSIEConsulting.com Telephone: 850-270-8005