Displaying 1 - 10 of 322 entries.

There is an “I” in Trustworthiness

  • Posted on October 22, 2014 at 9:08 am

By: Kara MillerKara

Piglet slided up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I have the privilege of being a guest blogger for Character Counts! Week. My pillar is trustworthiness. You would likely agree that trust is important, even foundational, to any relationship. Family relationships, significant others, work relationships, and as a proud Chihuahua owner I’ll even go so far as pet relationships. After all, Cooper Miller trusts that I will come home and let him out at the end of the day.

Trustworthiness is something I greatly value. I’ll use a synonym for trustworthiness and call it dependability.  If I tell someone I will do something, I do it. If you email me, I will reply-and usually pretty quickly-because to me that is following through and building trust. And in moments or situations where I have not been dependable, it creates a really unsettling feeling within me.

So while all that above is important, what I want to challenge you to do is to trust yourself. I think that might be discussed a little less. I am going to generalize here but I think that sometimes as women, we doubt ourselves whether it is our abilities, our appearance, or our voice in certain situations. I hope the thing that you take from my post today is that the next time you are in a similar situation-one of personal doubt-trust you.

A quick Google search tells me that trustworthy means: worthy of confidence, able to be relied on to do what is needed or right. I want you to be that woman.  Be confident in your talents and abilities. Apply for that student leadership position you think may be just above your reach. Tell yourself you’ve put in all the work and studying, and you are going to succeed on your next test. Speak up when those around you are making decisions you do not think are right. Give input when the chapter is making decisions. Reach out to the friend that you know in your heart is struggling. Because as my friend Pooh also says, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Kara Miller currently serves as an Assistant Dean of Students in the Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living at Cornell University. She is a proud volunteer for Sigma Sigma Sigma, specifically with the S.A.F.E. Team and Women of Character retreats.  She also volunteers for the Northeast Greek Leadership Association (NGLA) and the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA). Kara is a former chapter president for the Epsilon Delta chapter at Gannon University in Erie, PA.

A Legacy of Caring

  • Posted on October 21, 2014 at 9:10 am

By: Christina MillerXtina  Lincoln

I feel so lucky to be able to write for the value of caring during Character Counts! Week. The women on the CC! Initiative could tell you, from day one, which values are their “favorite”, or in other words, which value speaks the most to them. Mine is caring. In some ways I feel that caring encompasses all the other values. You show you care when you respect another person for their individual beliefs, you exhibit kindness when you act fairly towards others, you show compassion when you take part in service projects to benefit others, etc.

One of my (many) part time jobs is as a server at a sports bar and grill. I have waitressed on the side for many, many years, and while I find I have a love-hate relationship with the food service industry, I have had many opportunities to spread caring to others in my time as a server.

One such opportunity came to me recently. I was scheduled to close at the Lamplighter (the restaurant I work at) and it had been a fairly slow night for me. Our kitchen closes at 10 pm, so I had been hoping that if it remained slow, I could close early and go on to do something else with my Friday night. But of course, around 9:25 pm, a group of four high school aged boys came in for some half-off appetizers. As they sat counting their dollars bills and loose change to determine what half-priced items they could afford to purchase, I had a choice to make. I could act the way I felt: annoyed, wishing that they would have chosen the McDonalds Dollar Menu instead or very easily, I could make their night.

Judging from the little pouches of coins filled with quarters that they had saved up, I guessed that their choice to splurge at the Lamplighter was something of a special occasion for them, so I did what I could to make it just that. I used my knowledge of the menu to let them know what would be the best bang for their (few) bucks, and made sure their glasses of Mellow Yellow and Shirley Temples were always full. In the end, I did have to stay later than I had wanted to, and they left what I believe was a very generous tip for them ($4), but even for that small, seemingly inconsequential act, I was able to pass some kindness on.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the choice I made that night to exhibit caring instead of annoyance and impatience is not always my first choice. As a waitress, I often have to deal with some people who don’t see the importance of acting with caring, or patience, and it takes a toll on me. It is easy to get caught up in negativity and turn around and share that same feeling of unfriendliness. One of the most important things that I have ever learned is the impact that my words and my actions can have on others. Your words and your actions are a part of your legacy, and they will be passed them on, either positively or negatively. It is your choice how you want to shape the world and those around you. So, if you’re like me, sometimes it’s easier to let impatience get the better of you and react in a not-so-caring way, but for Character Counts! Week, let’s try to make an effort to change that. We can change our own behaviors by making different individual choices and we can help others to do the same by sharing kindness instead of meanness, or even indifference. You have ability to make the world a better place, so what will your legacy be?

I’m a born and raised Minnesota girl from a family of ten kids. I’m a professed history buff with a love of live music and adventures! As a collegian in the Epsilon Rho chapter at Tri Sigma, I was extremely involved in Tri Sigma and around campus. I have been fortunate to attend many different Tri Sigma and Greek conferences and institutes, most recently the Labyrinth Leadership Experience, and look forward to always being involved in an organization that has come to mean so much to me!

Choosing to be in a Community

  • Posted on October 20, 2014 at 9:05 am

By: TC Crogan KrajnakTC head shot 06-14

We are all part of so many different communities and we are a part of these communities for a variety for reasons. How we define ourselves and the impact we want to have on the world can affect our life and the lives of others.  A citizen is defined as someone who is a part of a political community. To me being a “good citizen” is more than just voting, not littering and paying taxes. Being a good citizen involves living your life in a way that touches on many values and your own life experience.

While writing this piece I realized that I am an active in so many different communities….my city, my state, my country, my neighborhood, my church, my children’s school, my sorority, my volunteer activities, even within my own home with my family. I wear many “hats” at different times, but I choose to be an active contributing member in all of these communities.

The idea of being a part of many communities became even clearer with a recent activity my daughters participated in. I am the mother of three wonderful, thoughtful, funny, smart children. I am my twin girls’ Girl Scout troop leader. Recently they decided to pursue an award which would require the help of assembling a team and determining a project in the “community” that would make the world a better place. Together this team would create a plan and execute that project. As I prepared for the meeting, I thought of a few ideas for them to consider within our community with just in case I was met with blank stares when I had them start brainstorming. We gathered the small group of 11 year olds gave them some markers and flipchart boards and had them start a list of concerns or issues they saw in their “community” in the hopes of selecting their award project. What quickly became evident was how they were defining community. I defined community in a much larger perspective. Their community revolved almost exclusively around their classmates, teachers and school. They don’t yet have the perspective that they are all a part of several, bigger communities. The project they chose will be wonderful and fun and it will be perfect for them to stretch their wings but it had me thinking about the “bigger picture”.

Being a part of a community can be by choice or it can be by circumstance but being a helpful participatory citizen is a decision I consciously make. Each day I make choices to actively engage or not engage in the communities I am a part of at home, within organizations, at work and around my city, state or country.

To this day, what sometimes feels like a bazillion years ago, I chose to become a part of Tri Sigma and joined our special community. To this day, I still choose to be an active Tri Sigma and uphold our standards. I choose to participate in the experience. I choose to play by the rules, volunteer and try to do more to make our Greek community a better place along with the world we live in.

To truly make the world a better place we need always be incorporating the pillar of citizenship in our lives. I try and do this in my daily encounters by sharing smiles with strangers, holding doors, and not littering. I am doing my best to teach my children how they need to be responsible and aware of their place in their communities and even at their young age, how they can participate, engage and be a voice. I continue to find ways that I can volunteer to help make things better or just lend a hand when needed. In the bigger perspective, I always embrace my opportunity to vote, follow the laws and begrudgingly pay my taxes. I choose to be a good citizen.

I challenge you to look at your communities and the role you play. Are you participating? Are you striving to make your community better? Are you “showing up” and being present? If you are, together we can change the world.

TC Crogan Krajnak has a passion for writing, conversations, public speaking and making the world a better place. As a life-long Wisconsin resident she has spent time traveling around the country meeting people and seeing the sights. In 1991, she officially joined Tri-Sigma and she says her life was forever changed. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in PR/Advertising she has volunteered for Tri-Sigma in many local and national capacities. Her love for the sorority continues to this day. In addition to her career she spends time volunteering with several organizations, including Girl Scouts. She currently lives in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband John and her fabulous trio, Maggie, Abby and Joey.

The Windows of Respect

  • Posted on October 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

By: Katie Johnstonekjohnstone article picture

Respect is a charming building. It is tall, on the wider side, and spotted with thousands of windows. Through these windows, different scenes of respect appear and we absorb them with our eyes and ingrain them in our memories. The scenes, with each individual, are shaded with different complexities and simplicities. As we peer through each window, looking both inwardly and outwardly, we create meaning about the respect as a structure. We emotionally react to the different glass panes providing us a vision of the word. We climb sets of spiraled, wooden, stairs to make sense of it all.

The first window we see has a classic trim with royal purple curtains on either side. As we come closer, we see women. Women working as professionals, women taking care of children, women young with the desire to change the world, women taking a bite out of education’s apple, women who haven’t tapped into their passions yet. Along with women, we also see self-destruction. We see gender being used as an easy excuse to accept blame, mistreatment, disrespect, unequal opportunity, and darker things that we want to blink away. We see rules about respect for women. We are encouraged to be hard, tough, and to demand respect. We are told that respect is earned, not given. When we appear to be confident, that respect sometimes is transformed into hate toward the “bossy” woman. Some of us embrace the word, and some us want to be respected without a label that makes us feel cold. We see women ripping respect from other women with brutal words and actions in quest for inner power. We want to know, but we also want to shy away from all the different avenues that Respect may take us on. We begin to picture someone we respect and we fill with admiration. She is our sister, with the three Sigmas stitched upon her shirt. She desires to live with respect. While she may not agree with everything she sees, she focuses her lens, and narrows in to a sea of individuals. She can see a worth in all individuals and behaves in a manner that outwardly displays this to others.  For this, she is respected. Most importantly, she uses these images to piece together a picture of her self-respect.

We walk away, to revisit again, to another window within the building. We walk down a long, narrow hallway that takes us to a room with only one window. We wonder curiously how this could be, for the outside is coated with windows. As we get closer, we struggle to see another scene. Instead, we make out the colors and shapes of our own self as we stand before the square opening. It is a mirror. We can hear ourselves frustrated, our words soaked in distress, talking about respect. We feel belittled, but we do not stand up for our own self. We see ourselves disrespecting our own bodies. We have profound thoughts, legitimate arguments, and significant feelings. We stifle them rather than speaking out. We let others assign us our worth even if we do not agree. We take the back seat. We lie down and let ourselves be doormats to those who do not respect us. We realize that we are our only protection, our only armor against the harshness of external forces. We realize that we, just as we are, are enough to battle for. We decide that we have enough respect for ourselves to speak out with assertiveness and a willingness to admire others.

It is important to observe respect and begin understanding its many faces and shades. Even more importantly, is to live with respect. I try to live my life with respect. I realize that sometimes I accomplish this goal by seeking true worth in others. Other times, I am blinded by emotion, my own desire to be respected as a woman, as a professional, as a human being. Respect is salient to my identity and my daily life. I respect because I want to be respected. When I am not at my best moment, I want others to look at me, and try to find a quality inside of me that demands respect. I give respect automatically, because I believe it is something that everyone deserves. With that in mind, it is only natural that we may lose respect for others if we feel betrayed, belittled, or morally disagreeable with their actions. Even when I feel like the last thing someone deserves is my respect, I try to put myself in their shoes. I imagine myself as them. I imagine what a difference it could make if maybe one person still saw some quality to me, enough to earn even one grace of respect. Respect is at times difficult, steadily complex, but always worth giving to those around us.

Katie Johnstone is a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh studying Higher Education Administration. She works in Residence Life at Robert Morris University and is passionate about working with college students. She continues to volunteer with Tri Sigma and their efforts to promote character education within their members.

Confessions of a Sigma-holic

  • Posted on October 16, 2014 at 9:07 am

Hello, my name is Jackie and I’m a Sigma-holic…

What a busy, busy world we live in. With so many things competing for our time and talents, it’s difficult to prioritize what should come first.  As far as Tri Sigma goes, our vows make the order pretty clear cut, God, family, then Sigma.  I see service to God as all those activities that are related to your faith or to the service of others.  Family encompasses home, children, spouse, and employment responsibilities.  Then comes Sigma, but I must confess that I haven’t always made Sigma a priority.

Tri Sigma has such a large national scope, and I’ve often contemplated, “What do I have to offer a sisterhood that is made up of so many gifted women?  After all I’m only one person, would my meager contributions really be missed?”  I then recalled an old fable about a village that was to be honored with a visit from the King of the realm.

The villagers decided that a celebration should be planned to coincide with the King’s visit. Everyone agreed that such an occasion should be toasted with wine. (I realize that Sigma has a tough alcohol policy, so let’s just assume all the necessary paperwork had taken place). However, wine was a very valuable commodity and the community was not sure how such luxury could be provided.  Someone suggested that each villager might contribute a small flask of wine to a common cast; with each contributing a little, it would insure that there would be plenty for all.  A vote was taken with everyone unanimously supporting this idea.  As the event date drew near, the villagers could be seen emptying the contents of their flasks to the community cast of wine.  This made one person think… “With so many contributing I’m sure my small bit will not be missed.” So she filled her flask with water and poured it in thinking no one would notice.  Finally the day of celebration arrived and it was time to toast King.  However, when the cast was opened only water flowed out.  All the villagers had had the same thought.  Of course the moral to this story is simple… we each need to contribute to our individual capabilities, as we all have something unique to offer.  Remember… “To receive much, you must give much.”

Is Everyone Wearing Panties? Silence is not always Golden!

  • Posted on October 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

I did it again, or maybe it’s better to say, I didn’t do it again. Values are just like our panties, you have to put them on each day and one day last week, I was totally commando. So I will correct myself here and you can learn from my train wreck.

A couple of weeks ago, we had people over and they were visiting from back east.  As many of you know, the news has been full of the co-ed that has been missing for a few weeks. They had just made an arrest and we were talking about it over lunch.

Our guest said, “Well you know she had been drinking…” In an “I told you so” sort of voice. And do you know what I said? Nothing! I let the moment pass. They were guests in my home and of an older generation, I didn’t correct that crazy, misguided, erroneous line of thought. And for that, I am ashamed.

I should have said, “So what? She was drinking and she deserved to be accosted, raped, murdered and whatever else is keeping that mother’s precious child away?”  You think she had too much to drink or maybe she was dressed too racy? Do you know what she deserved? Exactly what we all deserve, to be treated with respect and dignity. To be offered aid and a safe haven as a child of God. Her mistake, if in fact one was even made, should cost her a hangover, nothing more.

I didn’t say anything, and sometimes our silence is louder than words. Living our values means speaking up even when you are the only one brave enough to do so.  Rape culture on our campuses, board rooms and elsewhere isn’t going to change if we continue to whisper behind our hands that “She had it coming, I mean did you see that outfit?” And perhaps more critically, if we don’t shut down those comments when they are given voice, victims of violence are just that, victims. And every mother’s son and father’s daughter deserves to be safe in their beds tonight, and that’s all.

We have to do better for our sisters and daughters and ourselves. I have to do better. We can’t let the risk of sounding rude keep us from making noise. We can be diplomatic. We can be non-confrontational. We can even be polite but we can’t be silent.

Molly Schroeder Steadman (Chi) is a former chapter officer, local and national sorority volunteer, and National Headquarters employee. She recently moved back to Kansas with her husband and three children. Join her in supporting the future of Tri Sigma with regular donations to the Foundation, preferably the Chi Scholarship fund. Her blog, “Is everybody wearing panties?”, runs the first Friday of every month. Values aren’t something you are born wearing; like your panties, you have to put them on every day before you leave the house.

Why Hazing Doesn’t Match up with our Values

  • Posted on September 26, 2014 at 9:05 am

By: Amanda CrossAmanda Cross

As members of Sigma Sigma Sigma we agree to live by our values of wisdom, power, faith, hope, and love. Each year as National Hazing Prevention Week rolls around and I take part in the activities associated with that. I like to look back at our values that we uphold in this organization and I am here today to tell you why hazing doesn’t match up with the values that this organization upholds.

1) Wisdom

When I think of wisdom I think of the wisdom that going through the new member education process gave me about myself and my organization. I was able to fully absorb all of the wisdom from the people who were older than me because of the way that my new member program was run. I didn’t have to fear for anything and I felt respected and loved all throughout my new member process. What is the basis of your new member program? Is it to give your new members wisdom about themselves and their sorority? Be careful of putting things in the program that don’t truly give someone an educational new member experience. Not everything in the program is worth keeping.

2) Power

When I think of power I think of our vision statement which is “Sigma Sigma Sigma will provide exceptional experiences that will empower women to change the world.” I felt a sense of empowerment going through my new member experience with Sigma Sigma Sigma, and I still feel that to this day. Sigma has given me so many amazing experiences in my local chapter, in my state, and nationally. I cannot get over how amazing Sigma has been to me. Hazing makes people feel powerless. It makes people feel scared and like they don’t have control over their own fate. Tri Sigma is all about power with NOT power over and any activities that are contradictory to that don’t mesh with our values.

3) Faith

When I think of faith I think about the faith that I put in the older sisters of my chapter to show me the way and show me how a true and lawful Sigma Sigma Sigma should behave.When you are an older member of your organization you pave the way for your younger sisters and you are the people that they look up to. Hazing will continue until someone says that this is not the way our organization should be run and that it needs to change. In order to have those conversations certain important people in your organization need to be talked to. Check out this blog I did last year for details on having those conversations.

4) Hope

When I think of hope in this organization I immediately shift my attention to the hope that having a certain amount of empowerment gives me for the future. It’s hard to feel hopeful about the future and how amazing your life in a sorority will be if you don’t feel powerful in your organization. Being in a sorority should empower you and give you hope and being hazed will not give you any of those feelings. Be careful that your new member program is instilling hope into the hearts of your new members and not hopelessness.

5) Love

The feelings you get from hazing are the exact opposite of feelings of love. Hazing stirs up feelings of hate and animosity and everything wrong in a Greek organization. Teaching new members to love themselves and love their sisters old and young should be at the forefront of your mind when you are going through you are teaching anything to new members. Love is so important in this organization. You have to have love for your sisters, because in my opinion everything else builds on top of that love–all the faith in your sisters, all the hope for your future, all the knowledge and empowerment; start with love.

As an organization we value five things: wisdom, power, faith, hope, and love. By hazing new members you are going against the very things that we value as an organization and that’s not fair to the new members of your organization. By hazing your new members you are going against the very core of this organization and by default teaching your new members the wrong values of this organization. No matter what happened in the past, think about how you can create a better new member experience for anyone walking through your doors right now.

Why we don’t give paddles as gifts

  • Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:10 am

Dear Sigma Sisters,

We often look on Pinterest and other sites to find ideas to share Sigma Love. However, be careful not to think that lovely decorated Greek paddles  presented to your little or big to hang on the wall is one of them. antipaddles

When I was an Alpha Phi (Central Michigan University) new member decades ago, it was a tradition for our big sisters to give us our engraved paddles after initiation.  The paddles hung on our walls and were only decorations.  It was just what we did. When I was  an advisor about 30 years later, the tradition continued, although the paddles were more personally decorated. I thought it was neat how the tradition had continued all these years.

However, in 2005 I was at Dunham and heard David Stollman from Campus Speak  talk about  “branding” and how our actions speak louder than our beliefs. The question kept coming up, “Is what you are doing in line with what you say your values are?” He asked us to consider what the world thinks when they see a Fraternity or Sorority paddle. I learned that what we were giving as an expression of our love for our sisters. The world outside the Greek system saw it as an emblem of torture and hazing. Unfortunately, the paddles had such a history with some Fraternity members. I was frankly shocked. I had never thought of my paddle in that way and was challenged to change my thinking. It wasn’t easy and took some reflection and time.

Because of this association of the paddle with cruelty, which we don’t want others to associate with our sisterhood, Tri-Sigma’s look for other expressions of their appreciation of their big and little sisters. Yes, paddles as gifts have been a huge tradition in the Greek world, but it is one which we are trying to put behind us.   A loving plaque with the same words in a different shape such as a sailboat, or a violet, would could express the same sentiment and avoid perpetuating the misconception that we beat each other!

As new members come into our organization, it is important that we educate them in a loving way to always reflect on our actions and ask:  Is what we are doing representing our values? When challenged by thinking that conflicts with our traditions and practices, it is also important to understand that  resistance to change is normal. Keep having those conversations!!! Check out Tri-Sigma’s anti hazing information on Sigma Connect. Below are some ideas and resources from there.

Ever forward with love,

Arlene Ball, Alumnae Advisor BT

As council officers and leaders, this is a great topic for you to tackle. Governing councils have a great deal of leverage and this is a great topic for an educational program or roundtable discussion among Fraternity/Sorority leaders on your campus.

A couple of blogs and articles on the subject from others in the Greek world.

1)  http://aflv.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-do-our-paddles-say-about-us.html

( An excerpt is below )

This is a guest post from Tracy Maxwell, Executive Director of HazingPrevention.Org

Five paddles hung on my wall in college, from dorm rooms, to the sorority house, to apartments. Wherever I lived, they represented home and family to me in a very real sense. Each of them was very special to me because of the individual who had given it to me, but I was also proud of those paddles and what they represented to me – sisterhood, sorority, home away from home, love from a big or little sister, pride and tradition. I still have all five of those paddles as well as one four-foot tall paddle signed by all 49 members of the new member class I was elected to lead as New Member Educator. I can’t bring myself to get rid of them, but I no longer display them proudly either.

Because those paddles represented such positive values to me, I never really stopped to think about what they might say to the rest of the world. To outsiders who don’t know about fraternity/sorority life, and believe the stereotypes they see in the movies and on TV, a paddle represents something altogether different – violence, abuse, degradation, humiliation and punishment. It is a reminder of the sometimes brutal hazing we inflict on each other, and the very worst of what it means to be a member of a Greek-letter organization.

There are certainly enough news stories of fraternity men being beaten with paddles to help reinforce the image of what these instruments have been used for. In 2001, an LSU student was paddled so severely that he needed surgery on his buttocks for a 7 inch-long, half-inch deep open sore. He required a skin graft and was in the hospital for two weeks. He didn’t tell anyone about what was happening to him. It was discovered only when his mother saw blood seeping through his pants on a visit home. (link: http://www.corpun.com/usi00103.htm)

As the Executive Director and founder of HazingPrevention.Org, I struggle with what to tell today’s students about the continued presentation of paddles as gifts. On the one hand, I understand the time-honored tradition, and the time and effort many spend to make their own unique paddle to present to a big or little sister or brother. It is always special to receive a traditional gift that has been given by countless members who came before you.

On the other hand, I’ve seen the damage inflicted when paddles are used for a more nefarious purpose. I cringe along with other fraternity/sorority alums when yet another individual or organization does something to damage all of our reputations”

2) Take the pledge and demonstrate your commitment against hazing. http://www.nationalhazingpreventionweek.celect.org/take-the-pledge

3)  Check out our Sigma Connect page on Hazing Prevention.

Mean Girl vs. Bullying

  • Posted on September 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

Sadly, we are no longer combating just hazing. We have bullying and mean girl behaviors in a college environment to also worry about and recognize. A bright spot here is that women are more likely to talk about mean girl behaviors and bullying. We haven’t used a series of scare tactics around these topics so women will likely discuss these and not be in fear of chapter closure. These behaviors may also be more visible.gossip1 (1)

HPO Website really provides the following description outlining the difference between hazing and bullying:

“The difference is subtle, which is why they’re often used interchangeably. The same power dynamics are involved. The same intimidation tactics are used. The same second-class citizenship issues arise. The only real difference between hazing and bullying is that bullying usually involves singling out an individual at any time and bullying them as a means to exclude them. Hazing, on the other hand, involves including people by having them “earn” their way into a group or onto a team. Bullying is about exclusion. Hazing is about inclusion.”

Emotional bullying or the mean girl phenomenon, relational aggression, involves social manipulation such as excluding others from a group, spreading rumors, breaking confidences and getting others to dislike another person. This behavior isn’t just reserved for new members but can happen at any level within the organization.

Further, what is happening is grade school and college is being carried into the work force.  Researchers have suggested that in the workplace, as many as 58% of bullies are women, and these individuals most often victimize other women, choosing females
as targets nearly 90% of the time (Workplace Bullying Institute, 2006). Studies have suggested that women can be just as aggressive as are males; however, females demonstrate their need for superiority, control, and power differently through a set of behaviors known as relational aggression. Behaviors seen in female power struggles may encompass a range of emotionally hurtful behaviors. These include socially aggressive behaviors, such as gossiping, social exclusion, social isolation, social alienation, talking about someone, and stealing friends or romantic partners. Also, not talking to or socializing with someone, deliberating ignoring someone, threatening to withdraw emotional support or friendship, and excluding someone from a group by informing him or her that he or she is not welcome (Xie, Swift, Cairns, & Cairns, 2002).  Any of this sound familiar to your experiences with sorority hazing?

What can you do?

Be a responsible bystander!

  • Notice the Event! Become aware and address any action that creates a negative membership experiences. It doesn’t matter if you view it as mean girl, bullying, or hazing…none of it has a place within Tri Sigma.
  • Recognize the behavior as a problem. Don’t just brush them off as harmful pranks or “girls being girls”.donthaze
  • Feel the responsibility to solve the problem. Speak up, report it to officers or advisors, call the hazing hotline! Tri Sigma joined the Anti-Hazing Hotline (link to http://fraternallaw.com/contact/anti-hazing-hotline/) in 2008. The toll-free number is 1-888-NOTHAZE (1-888-668-4293). Callers may remain anonymous or provide personal information so their concerns can be responded to directly. The Anti-Hazing Hotline connects to a dedicated voice mailbox at the Cincinnati law firm of Manley Burke, the publisher of Fraternal Law, a well-known law journal that chronicles legal issues involving collegiate Greek organizations and higher education.
  • Know what to do/possess the capacity to act. Get Fierce and Be Brave.

Learn more about Bystander Behavior at http://www.raproject.org/.

We’re asking the wrong question!

  • Posted on September 22, 2014 at 9:05 am


By: Lorin Phillips, Assistant Executive Director of Sigma Sigma Sigma

Over the years, I’ve found members are more likely to ask me questions like “is this hazing” or “can we do this with new members”? I understand that often times legal-speak can be wordy and feel complex but is it really that complex to be kind, inclusive, and supportive? No. However, for too many years, anti-hazing efforts looked like the DARE program “just say no” and prevention included scare tactics like “do X or you’ll be closed”. What we know about hazing and prevention tactics has continued to evolve yet too many are stuck… still using some outdated phrases to define hazing.

Ring! Ring! The 1980’s called and want their risk reduction methods back!!!! We must disconnect with…

  • the idea that if an activity has a purpose or perceived benefit it is not hazing. Purpose is not the only qualifier.
  • the idea if individuals agree to go along it is not hazing. “Willing participation” does not make it okay.  
  • the idea that if everyone is doing it is not hazing OR if it is a requirement of just the new members it is hazing.

Trying to list all prohibited activities or events which may be considered hazing. This is not an effective prevention strategy. It makes everything hazing.


We haven’t spent enough time educating on what is RIGHT and the result has been students more often asking questions to stay out of trouble than necessarily how to have an effective new member program and positive membership experience. What if we asked…

  • Is everyone earning their letters every day? If not, use Honor Council for any member not upholding our standards, values, and expectations of membership.
  • Are we expecting new members to prove themselves or for initiated members to be role models and show new members the way? Our ritual promises new members that initiated members will be there for them and guide them from day one. Do you expect your members to uphold this commitment made in the Arc Degree ceremony?
  • Are big sisters focused on being party planners or mentors?
  • How much time and money are you spending crafting behind closed doors and in secrecy for your little? Could you be using that time, energy, and money to spend quality time with your little?

What is even more concerning is that we work so hard to remove an activity or traditional event which is negative but what is being done to address the mentality? When we only eliminate an event without addressing the mentality concerns, we leave chapters without replacement events, therefore they are quick to say “it was better when there was hazing”. It is a response and a short-term fix, not long-term prevention.

A hazing mentality may exist when:

  • Members talk about how new members need to “prove themselves” instead of “mentoring and supporting” them.
  • There is pride in the new member program for being difficult and a challenge. Do you hear members talking about how they “got through” their new member program?
  • Members focus more on “pledge class unity” more than “chapter unity”.

So, what questions might be a more productive focus?

  1. What one thing could we change/improve that would significantly improve the new member experience?
  2. How do I lead change (link to http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_82.htm) within my chapter?
  3. How is my chapter doing with the 3 E’s of prevention:
    1. Education (What expectations do we set ?)
    2. Environment (What do you do in the moment when there is a problem? How are you intervening?)
    3. Enforcement (How do you hold them accountable?)


What questions have you asked that have created a change?