What is So Bad About Hazing?

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A guest blog post by Linda Knight, Director of Campus Recreation and member of the board of directors of HazingPrevention.org, and organization dedicated to empower people to prevent hazing.

I few years ago W&M was sending a team to the Novak Institute for the Prevention of Hazing.  Because I was in the process of hiring someone to oversee the sport club program, I decided I would attend the institute.  As a college athlete myself, (granted that was quite a few years ago) we did some low level hazing but no one really talked about hazing at that time, we all thought it was just initiation.  Whenever we did talk about hazing it was with reference to a fraternity or sorority doing something to their “pledges”.  We now know that is a problem at all levels and organizations.  As I sat through a very intensive institute, I thought about all the ways we could help our organizations make better choices, but was still having trouble getting the thought out of my head “are the things they are doing really that bad”.  Then about halfway through the institute we had a guest speaker that talked about the hidden harms of hazing and I never asked that question again .

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So what does the hidden harm of hazing really mean?  For me the best way to think about it is: “we do not know what we do not know”.  We do not know what is in someone’s past, whether it was something that happened to them, or someone they know.  Most people or groups that haze others do not do it with the intention of causing them harm, they want to have an experience that makes the person feel like they have earned acceptance or bonded with their group.  What the group often doesn’t think about is that they do not know someone’s past, and what is nothing to one person, can cause severe emotional or physical damage to another person.  Thinking about doing something that seems like no big deal to me, such as getting in someone’s face and screaming, or making them dress a certain way, could take someone else to a very dark place in their life. That had such an impact on me that I have stayed involved in the prevention effort on campus as well as nationally.  We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and some of the activities that take place do not lend themselves to respect or dignity.

When asked to serve on the Board of Directors for HazingPrevetion.Org I said yes immediately.  I wanted to help an organization that was mostly focusing on hazing with Fraternity and Sorority organizations see that is was a much bigger problem than just Greek organizations and that others were there to help with the prevention efforts. I also wanted to be able to share with them some of the successes we have had at William and Mary with our efforts.

I would love for there to be a time when we do not have to think about hazing prevention because it is no longer an issue.  We are making a lot of progress here at W & M but have a long way to go.  We are considered one of the leaders in the collegiate world for our prevention efforts, and we are honored and proud that others view us that way, but we know we have a long way to go.

The area that I am very proud of, is that some of our organizations are reaching out to those involved with the prevention effort to discuss, and ask for help, providing alternative activities that achieve the goals and mission of the organization in a more positive manner. For the last two years we have had organizations take advantage of our outdoor program to schedule trips that bring the members closer together and allow them to bond in a very challenging, but supervised activity.  I hope that more groups will take advantage of this opportunity as well as other opportunities.

I know our efforts at W&M are not to stop people from feeling a part of an organization, but to provide guidance and opportunities to achieve the same result in a healthy and positive way. Also getting our W&M community to realize they can make a difference. If something is happening to you or someone you know that feels like hazing, you can step up and stop it.  When we were coming up with a phrase to represent our hazing prevention efforts we came up with:  My Tribe, My Responsibility: A Home without Hazing.  It really is your responsibility to help your fellow students be treated with respect and dignity in a safe environment and we are here to help in any way we can.

Role-Modeling A Resume…#NoTitleNeeded

This #NoTitleNeeded Guest Blog is shared by Drew Wilke, who positionally serves the Student Assembly as the Chief of Staff. 

Drew Wilke shares his thoughts on #NoTitleNeeded

Drew Wilke shares his thoughts on #NoTitleNeeded

I remember my first resume. It was the summer before freshman year; my Dad suggested I write out my accomplishments on paper. Soon my page was filled with positions galore, and plenty of white space to showcase my skeleton of experience. Of course, during orientation at William and Mary, the Activities Fair proved the next natural step to bulk up my resume even more.

I soon learned the classic freshman move; put your name down on as many club rosters as possible. It’s not official until you join that elusive listerv. For some of us, we still receive emails from clubs we signed up for, but never made a priority beyond an unread message in our inbox (sorry Club Tennis). For the organizations we do choose to identify with beyond a name on an email chain, we are eventually presented the opportunity to join leadership. The alternative? Show up to meetings and do your part as a member.

The challenge of classifying our commitments as member vs. leader juxtaposes two positions, and preserves the right of leadership to a select few. As a result, we lose out on untapped potential, and fail to recognize true leadership in practice. In Student Assembly, everyone holds a title as all positions are either elected or appointed. Personally, I have found my titles in SA as insignificant to my leadership aptitude and aspirations. Instead, I define leadership by its core root, the ability to lead.

Successful leaders inspire followers, and we tend to study, mimic and follow our role models. A good role model does not ask for attention, people naturally seek it out. Similarly, a leader does not need a title, but rather a sphere of influence that permeates naturally. Does it show up on business cards, employment applications or at awards ceremonies? No, but a great leader is an even better role model.

Next time you pull out your resume, take a minute and delete all of the headers and titles. Now of course don’t send this revised document to a desired employer, but reflect on the words left on that piece of paper. This is your leadership brand. Take pride in your own words, its your space to tell your story. A title on a resume looks good, but the impact a role model leaves behind changes lives.

#NoTitleNeeded to Start the W&M Bike Initiative

Rich Thompson shares his thoughts on the W&M Bike Initiative and #NoTitleNeeded

Rich Thompson shares his thoughts on the W&M Bike Initiative and #NoTitleNeeded

Today’s Guest Blogger for #NoTitleNeeded is our colleague Rich Thompson. Many of us know Rich from his dedicated professional service as part of the Sadler Centers Staff. But today we asked him to share about the W&M Bike Initiative. The W&M Bike Initiative is a project spurred by a passion to help our students develop a cycling culture that will better connect them to our beautiful and cycling friendly community. 

When asked to write a Blog/post about this project as part of the #NoTitledNeeded campaign, my first reaction was ‘Wow!’ My second thought was how do I summarize all that has been accomplished and also provide some insight to what the future might hold for the W & M Bike Initiative? However, more importantly, how do I express how much this project has cultivated leadership for me personally and with those connected to it?

So, I think the best place to start is to share a bit of what has been accomplished and what is hoped for in the forthcoming years;

To date we have accomplished the followings items:

  • Installed (4) bike fixit/pump stations across campus.
  • Upgraded and expanded our bike racks throughout campus.
  • Organized a successful bike buy-back program of used/abandoned bikes and a free bike helmet giveaway.
  • Create a William & Mary Bike Initiative Informational Webpage providing users with helpful resources for biking in our area, bicycling laws, and safety tips.
  • Developed a series of orientation rides to expose the W & M community to Williamsburg & James City County’s extensive bike paths, lanes, & networks.
  • Established a (1) credit 6 week educational course in the Department of Kinesiology with a focus on bicycle safety, rules of the road, basic maintenance, and the health/wellness benefits from cycling.
  • Currently we are conducting research supported by a faculty member to determine what type of a bike share, rental, or lease program would be most appropriate for the W & M community.

Here is what we have forthcoming and what we hope to accomplish in the future:

  • Installation of more appropriate informational signage and road sharrows throughout campus to foster “Share the Road” concept with cyclists and to provide informational  guide markers to better connect W & M cyclists to the City of Williamsburg’s and James City County’s extensive trails/networks.
  • Installation of more bike fixit stations.
  • The acquisition and installation of more upgraded bike racks and the inclusion of covered bike racks.
  • Educational guests speakers and programs.
  • Continuation of recreational rides and the potential development of signature cycling events for the college and the Williamsburg communities.
  • A bike share, rental, or lease program supported by a potential W & M bike shop on campus.

As you can imagine, accomplishing what we have so far and what we hope to accomplish has taken leadership and vision by so many within our W & M community.  Therefore, I would be remiss not to highlight these individuals in particular for their leadership has been truly inspirational.

Brianna Buch & Gabriel Morey – These two students in particular are the heart and soul of the William & Mary Bike Initiative.  They have been the driving force of the project and they have inspired so many to join in support with their passion, including myself.

Mr. Bill Horacio, Director Parking & Transportation Services – Bill has been the linchpin and the navigator of the initiative.  Without his guidance and his eye for detail, this project might have floundered without his diligence of keeping things on track!

Dr. Kelly Crace, Associate Vice President for Health & Wellness, Director of Health Promotion – Kelly has been instrumental in connecting the bike initiative to the efforts of the Division of Student Affairs and personally laying the foundation for establishing the credited course offered in the Department of Kinesiology.

Dr. Catherine Forestell, Associate Professor/Dept. of Psychology – Cathy has been the lead faculty member in organizing the research for evaluating what type of bike share, rental, or lease program that the college should consider implementing.  Cathy’s infectious passion for research has enthused the students that are conducting the research under her guidance.

Mr. Michael Fox, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Visitors – Michael has helped sculpt the committee of the William & Mary Bike Initiative and has acted as the ultimate advisor.

However, the things that I am personally proud of have been my role as a mentor to the students of this project and bringing in members of the W & M and the local community to help support/market the initiative.  In both of the aforementioned areas, this project has provided me a unique opportunity to share my expertise of the cycling movement on college/university campuses and in local communities across the country.  Consequently, at times I have found myself advising upper level administrators or faculty on potential courses of action that should be considered as we move the William & Mary Bike Initiative forward.   I have found this very exciting and humbling,  for as the Associate Director for Sadler & Campus Centers one my of primary roles is to provide support and service for others in the William & Mary community and not necessarily help lead such a project that could conceivably impact future generations of the William & Mary community.

Naturally, I feel extremely fortunate to serve The College of William and Mary and its students and being associated with this project has only deepened that appreciation!  Consequently, I truly believe if you have a vision and if it truly supports the students and benefits the college, anyone can truly be a leader here, no matter your title!

Reflections on Cheese and Leadership

This #NoTitleNeeded Guest Blog Post brought to you by Aaron Bayles.  Aaron is a sophomore at the College and in his freshman year founded one of our favorite recognized student organizations – The Cheese Club.

Guest Blogger Aaron Bayles for #NoTitleNeeded

Guest Blogger Aaron Bayles for #NoTitleNeeded

Bayles

The idea that a person does not need an official title to practice leadership resonates powerfully with me. As the President and Founder of the W&M Cheese Club, one of the College’s newest and fastest-growing organizations, I’ve personally experienced and seen how confident, motivated, decisive people can essentially create their own leadership opportunities. Anyone can be a leader.

Unfortunately, in many cases people aspire to titles, not leadership. They run in elections and attempt to become more involved in a club in order to soon hold a position for the sake of writing on their future résumé that they were an officer. If they get the position, they only work within the strict confines of their station, rarely going the extra mile or taking initiative in their leadership. If they don’t get the title they sought, many people abandon that organization altogether and move on to another, with the same quest of acquiring titles. After the mad rush in high school to cram as many officer positions into our lists of extracurricular activities as possible, it almost comes naturally to many people. However, this is not true leadership. Leadership can be exercised with or without titles. True leaders don’t need to have or want a title in order take charge of situations or groups of people. They use their talents for the sake of improvement and growth.

When I founded the Cheese Club, I didn’t do it because I wanted to give myself a fancy title. I wanted to take this passion I had and find others with whom I could share it. I wanted to form relationships and share experiences based on a common interest. In doing so, I created a supportive, cheese-loving community that has immeasurably enhanced my experience here on campus. We grew from a ten-person group meeting in the lounge of my freshman hall to an organization with nearly one hundred dues-paying members that has to reserve some of the College’s largest public spaces in order to host our events and meetings.

And beyond our board of officers, we have a dedicated group of regular members who step up and help us with whatever we need, whether that means volunteering at events, contributing and critiquing new ideas, or just helping to carry things from one place to another. They selflessly contribute without any type of compensation, or a title. Their leadership is invaluable to the club.

That’s what #NoTItleNeeded means to me. So go on out there! Be a leader! Don’t wait for someone to give you a leadership position on a silver platter! Make it for yourself! There are few things more rewarding.

From Where I Sit…

This guest blog from Margaret Connolly, Student Organizations Support Specialist
Office of Student Leadership Development

I’m surrounded by leadership every day.  Whether I’m assisting a student with an event request, watching students engage around campus, or engaging them on a topic they care about, I’m in the company of leaders.   At some point in your life whether you realize it or not, you will find yourself in a position of leadership or in the company of a leader.

From where I sit #NoTitleNeeded means taking on a responsibility, a duty, or a task in the service of yourself or others.  Following through on responsibility and commitments made is the hallmark of leadership.  “Leadership is about action, not position”.  Simply “showing up” and participating in what you care about is leadership, and that is happening everywhere every day!  Sometimes just showing up and participating is overlooked or under- appreciated, but take heart, you have skills and talents complimentary to the things you care about and no title is needed to authenticate that.  Those talents, offered without being asked will help elevate your organization as well as engage members to reach common goals.

The bottom line is this…..everyone has a leadership role to play within their organization and or among their peers.  I see it every day “from where I sit”.

#NoTitleNeeded Through History

This blog post by Joe Wheeless, Coordinator: Fraternity/Sorority Life, is written from the perspective of Benjamin Stoddard Ewell, 16th President of the College of William and Mary and is not meant as an actual letter.  Benjamin Ewell dedicated his life to the survival of William and Mary during the 19th Century. As you reflect on these words, ask yourself how this relates to the concept where one does not need a title to practice leadership.

Ewell Blog Picture

Benjamin Stoddard Ewell

Dear Mr. Grigsby,

As our long tenure of friendship continues, I must write you of personal reflections in this time where our beloved College is without students.  Each morn I embark on a short venture with Gardiner to the Main Building and President’s house.  The matter of my venture is to see the condition of the buildings, greet passersby, and engage in correspondence.

As the Royal Charter states, the College Bell is rung abundantly to remind the citizens of Williamsburg their beloved students will return.  Overheard from citizens about Duke of Gloucester this has given me the reputation as a ‘bell-ringer,’ as the same of the celebrated ‘Swiss bell-ringers.’ I occasionally enjoy a laugh at this comparison but do not engage in contradiction of this metaphor.

My true intent with these daily visits to the College is tied to keeping the spirit of this majestic spot on this earth and in our hearts alive. I would take on the accounts even in denial of my position bestowed upon me but in support of my eternal love for the College. Alas, many responding letters are filled with wishes of hope and luck in my success for the College to return.  For as long as I walk this earth, my love for William and Mary will not falter.  And it is forever my dream to see her return to the prominence of which she deserves.

Benj. S. Ewell

Heuvel, Sean M., and Heuvel, Lisa L., College of William and Mary in the Civil War. Jefferson, NC, USA: McFarland & Company, 2013. ProQuest ebary. Web. 31 October 2014.

Leadership Is Not a Position

Guest Blog by Brianna Buch, Class of 2015

Leadership Is Not a Position

Leadership Is Not a Position

It is logical that we associate the ability to lead with a title or position. It is easy to understand what is meant when someone is the President of an organization, or on the Leadership Board – they are in charge. However it is hard to quantify what leadership looks like outside a position. Who gets the credit? How do you explain who you are?

To further the difficulty, leadership positions are what get us jobs, and into grad school and further in the next phase of life. We are, in some ways, bound by them.

Lately, however, I’ve been challenging the concept of leadership in my own life. I held a position in Student Government last year as the President of the Class of 2015. The title alone afforded opportunities I wouldn’t dream of having otherwise. But, when it came time for elections in the spring, I chose not to run for office the following year. This was not because I didn’t feel equipped, but rather a combination of timing and circumstance.

As I continue pushing to affect change on this campus, I pause and reflect deeply about what it means to lead.

  • Are you still a leader if you hold no formal position?
  • Do you still have as the ability to influence the world around you?

I think so. I found a quote during my Sophomore year, which continues to resonate with me today. “Power, I would learn, is nothing but responsibility.” Positions carry with them the weight of responsibility, but I argue that being present in a community is reason enough to feel responsible, to become active and engaged in the world around you. Leadership to me is tapping into passion, taking on responsibility and pushing for something you believe in. With that as the standard, anyone – and everyone – has the capacity to be a leader.

I think our campus would be much stronger if we were all leaders by spirit regardless of title. And that means taking responsibility for the things we don’t agree with, or aren’t satisfied with, and giving it a shot at changing those things.