Welcoming New Members The Right Way

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The UW Panhellenic Community welcomes their New Members on Bid Day, September 17th, 2017 provided by Panhellenic Council

With the excitement of school starting, freshman girls look around campus to find their niche. Some find it through intramurals, some find it through clubs and others find it through Sorority life. With those that do decide to join Sorority life, some can’t help but wonder about a common rumor that floats around with this culture; hazing.

The Harsh Reality

Defined by Google dictionary as, “the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and invitation.” Hazing is an occurrence that takes place as a way to ‘welcome’ new members to an organization, whether it be a sports team, club or organization. Yet, this act is anything but welcoming.

“It’s a really scary thing and gets very publicized in a negative light,” said Melissa Riley  UW Panhellenic VP of Programming.  (The National Panhellenic Conference’s is an organization that’s purpose is to oversee 26 national sororities. Within each school is a Panhellenic Council to help assist the sororities at that school.)

(The National Panhellenic Conference is an organization that’s purpose is to oversee 26 national sororities. Within each school is a Panhellenic Council to help assist the sororities at that school.)

Recently, 14 members of a Fraternity at Penn State are facing charges for the death of member Timothy Piazza after he fell down the stairs and the first responders were not called until almost 12 hours later. Cases like this happen too often for something that is so strongly prohibited.

“Hearing stories about hazing in the media breaks my heart and just knowing how poorly it reflects on our community.” said University of Wyoming Panhellenic VP of communications, Jessica Morrow.

Being illegal, Hazing is something that is strictly prohibited across the United States and hasn’t been a part of Sorority life for years. However, there is still a stereotype surrounding sororities that hazing still does exist. Whether it be from movies or other forms of media, there is still a poor image.

Eliminating the Stereotype

Members of the UW Sorority life community are extremely passionate about bashing the stereotypes that come along with being a member of sorority life.

“These stereotypes aren’t true and they promote an outdated image of what sorority life really means. I think today it means so much more than being in a social group” said UW Panhellenic President, Bailey Payton.

These members want the UW community to know that certain traditions that many may associate with the idea of sororities can be different from what people may think.

“People may think that sororities haven’t changed in 50 years when actually they have… sororities aren’t the same as they were in the 70s and even 90s,” said Riley.

Along with all general stereotypes surrounding Sorority Life, the UW Panhellenic council wants to eliminate all ideas of hazing associated with this community. Being something that doesn’t happen, they wanted to send a strong message to the community.

“We have a more values-based focus so perpetuating the fact that we might haze, negates all of the important stuff we do,” said Payton.

Spreading Awareness

This year, they partnered up with the non-profit HazingPrevention.org to help spread awareness. With National Hazing Prevention Week being September 18-22nd, they have been trying their hardest to spread awareness this week.

HazingPrevention.org’s impact statement states they are, “dedicated to empowering people to prevent hazing, by providing education and resources, advocating for hazing prevention and building partnerships with others.

“Melissa came to me and said, ‘Its national Hazing prevention week, we need to do something’ she explained the These Hands Don’t Haze Campaign and I told her to ‘go for it,” said Payton.

The These Hands Don’t Haze campaign challenges members of the community to paint their hands and then stamp them onto a poster in which they are taking a pledge not to haze. They also can use the hashtag, #thesehandsdonthaze to promote the campaign on social media. Riley decided to use the banner idea and table in Simpson’s Plaza all week.

“We have seen women from each chapter show up and it’s been awesome to see them take this pledge,” said Morrow.

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Sorority Life member, Alex Whitley writes her name next to her handprint on the “These Hands Don’t Haze” banner.

The date that National Hazing Prevention Week falls on this year is really special to the Panhellenic members. With it falling right after Bid day (the day where New Members accept their bids into their new houses) members of the community felt it was a perfect way to welcome these new members.

“This is a concern of new members joining the community, they only know what they’ve heard and they might think hazing is coming up for them but it’s absolutely not.” said Riley.

They are viewing this as a week to spread awareness about the Anti-Hazing policy in hopes of welcoming the New Members with open arms.

“They are being welcomed by a community of women who want the best for them and do not want to harm them,” said Riley.

The Panhellenic council wants the entire UW Community to be aware of the efforts they are taking to spread awareness. This is a group who doesn’t have any tolerance for hazing and they want that to be clear.

“We want the community to know we are making an effort to support this National initiative on campus and that our individual members are making this pledge,” said Payton.

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The UW Panhellenic Community’s These Hands Don’t Haze banner

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