Last week, The Hofstra Chronicle published a story regarding hazing allegations made against the brothers of Sigma Pi. As a senior who has been involved in various aspects of the Hofstra community, I found it necessary to add a different viewpoint to the overall situation. I stand in solidarity with the individuals involved in the allegations. Not simply the victims, but all of those involved; for who are the perpetrators but former victims, and who are the victims but future perpetrators of hazing? This is not to say that I condone hazing, but if it is such an integral part of the process, then that is an issue that we must address as a community.
First and foremost, I plead that nobody judges anyone involved in the scandal. The only thing worse than being hazed for a lengthy period of time, is to have your letters stripped off of your chest the second you get through said hazing. The Greek community, and its allegiance to their letters, is but a microcosm of the fetishistic social power relations faced within our entire community, and the country as a whole.
As university students, we have a predisposition towards attempting to understand the way things work, and often we do so through the use of labels – without ever realizing the destructive tendencies that come with them. In highlighting this issue, I have a plea to both the students and administration of Hofstra University.
To the administration: We are all aware of the blatant lack of community at Hofstra. There is nobody at athletic events, even worse attendance at non-athletic events and very little money generated at most charity events. If you want to build a community, however, you must build it from the bottom up and not top-down. Forcing clubs, sports team and fraternities to attend and participate in charity events, intramurals, etc., in order to maintain or boost their status does not help build a community. This system creates a hierarchy which is unnecessary, and causes every individual to do more.
In this sense, doing more has a negative connotation, as there are not enough resources for everyone to do more. We do not need a million new clubs. We do not need each of them to hold charity events that nobody will attend because everybody else is at their own charity event that they are forced to have. These are not things that should be done in order to increase one’s status, but rather by the generosity of their own spirit.
To the students: Find the generosity in your own spirits. When I talk about community at Hofstra, I can tell you that the most community I ever feel is when I think about the Hofstra employees with more diverse roles. My day brightens up every time I pass Jimmy from the Plant Department on the unispan, or when I get lectured about the best type of sauce to put on a Mile-High by the Bits and Bytes employees. Huge shout-outs also go to Mr. Meyerback of the IT Department, the long haired electrician with whom I have had some of the deepest conversations of my life, the gentleman working at Subway who was the first to tell me he missed me as I returned from my semester abroad and Gary the overnight custodial engineer who always makes my job at the Fitness Center easier.
Many of these people work at Hofstra so that they or their children can attend the university for a reduced cost, and I thank Hofstra for providing these wonderful people with great opportunities. This is an act that truly builds community. As children, we were all taught not to talk to strangers, but as we grow up, nobody ever tells us that this does not mean we should have an innate fear or disposition against every person we come in contact with for the first time. This is why I beg the students of Hofstra to take a deep breath, put a smile on and open up to everyone around you.
I mentioned various individuals in this article whom I have come to love simply by taking five minutes out of my day to have a conversation with them. When you truly talk, learn and care about someone, you won’t label them, or care about their labels or letters.
If we are to build a Hofstra community, it will only arise from the bottom up, after we cast aside whatever social hierarchy we choose to believe in. If we are able to do this, then many people may not believe they have to go to such extremes to be rewarded (or cursed) with a label. To all of my friends in Greek life: wear your letters with pride,and do not ever let anyone take them away from you, but know that you are not better or lesser than anyone else just because they wear different letters, or none at all.
Self-betterment is a vital pursuit, but it is an individual one that has to do with who you are, not who you associate with. Community-betterment is an equally noble pursuit, but it will only come about if we all engage in self-betterment, and learn how to love and support all those around us – regardless of where they come from, who they affiliate with, or what status they hold within our own fictionalized hierarchy.
This letter was written in response to the article "Alleged Sigma Pi hazing involved induced vomiting, a cage and anti-semitic imagery" originally published by The Hofstra Chronicle on December 6, 2016.