Skip to content

Challenging The Beliefs in Hazing

September 26, 2012

In the book “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis traces the managerial career of Billy Beane as he guided the Oakland Athletics professional baseball team to more wins than every other major league team but one on a budget that was approximately one-third of that used by the New York Yankees.

When I ask undergraduates who have read the book or seen the movie starring Brad Pitt for their interpretation of the key themes they almost always respond with a variation of, “He created steak and lobster on a hamburger helper diet” or “He demonstrated that money does not always win”

Then I will ask, “What is another theme?”  If I don’t receive an answer I will offer my own.  Billy Beane demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit before it was fashionable.  He challenged nearly every assumption that people made about baseball in general and scouting for talented players in particular.  And he did so by having others run the numbers to prove that statistical evaluation can play an important role in choosing athletes and playing a game.

Does that approach—which is part of your DNA as a professional business fraternity—have a place in challenging those who believe in hazing?


And if you are a brother and you are reluctant to challenge hazing practices in your chapter try the Billy Beane approach.  If you oppose hazing, use his approach.  If you aren’t certain about the value of hazing, use his approach.

Ask questions.

Ask lots of questions.

Some questions are obvious.  Some are nuanced.  Some are oblique.  But they are consistent with the Billy Beane approach, which was to challenge assumptions.

What is our purpose with this activity?  Do the outcomes match up with our purpose or are we simply having fun at the expense of our newest members?

What are we teaching with this activity?  How does memorizing the names, hometowns, majors and birthdates of members and then reciting that information by the height of people in a room—usually shortest to tallest—help our associates become great brothers?

What assumptions do we make about hazing?

“Dude, it’s like, ah, really important for them to go through something” 

Ask the question.  “But there are positive experiences and negative experiences.  Is this positive or negative or simply silly?”

Ask the question.  “Which members are the loudest and strongest advocates for hazing?  And, are they our best brothers?”  (I’ll offer my answer: No way.  The loudest and strongest advocates for hazing are rarely good members.  They want hazing because they are insecure about themselves.  Exercising or exerting control and authority over new members gives them a sense of power.  That is why hazers cannot engage in a logical and rational discussion about hazing.  For them, it is purely an emotional issue, as in, “YOU CAN’T TAKE AWAY MY HUMAN XBOX 360!”

When you hear, “They gotta go through what I went through” ask the question.  “Specifically, what is ‘what’?”

What other assumptions do we make about hazing?

“Pledge class unity is good” 

Challenge the assumption.  Pledge class unity is dumb.  It creates horizontal cliques in your chapter.  If our goal is one brotherhood, why would we encourage and emphasize the development of sub-groups in the chapter?

“Pledges want and expect to go through something”

Challenge the assumption.  Delta Sigma Pi is an organization founded upon ideals and values that have nothing to do with bullying, intimidating or ridiculing women and men who want to become members.  Secondly, we don’t know what we are dealing with in terms of our new members.  Life would be easier if we all had little gauges in our foreheads with green, yellow and red zones.  But we don’t.  And we don’t know what effect hazing may have on our new members.  Finally, who is in charge here?  I’m never surprised when some new members say that they wish they could be hazed.  I’m always surprised when members attempt to use that as a justification when they are older and know better.

We also know several other things—hazing is against the law in 44 states…you can be sued in civil court and prosecuted in criminal court for hazing…and hazing has absolutely nothing to do with Delta Sigma Pi and its standards, values and ideals.

Challenge the assumptions.  Every single assumption that people make about hazing.  Be Billy Beane.  There are some prospective brothers on your campus who will appreciate what you have done even if they don’t yet know that they will end up with Delta Sigma Pi.

Dave Westol is Owner & CEO of Limberlost Consulting, Inc. in Carmel, Indiana.  Dave has spoken against hazing on over 470 campuses and at over 260 national fraternity and sorority conferences and meetings.  Dave has over twenty national organizations as clients and specializes in board of directors orientation and training, governance structure and bylaws and risk management.  He can be reached at: and his website is: 

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: