Organizations value their new members and want them to feel part of the team. Creating or maintaining rituals and practices often stem from a leader’s desire to create a bond and foster a sense of unity. The most effective way to do this is to by choosing traditions and practices that based on respect and trust. There are many creative ways to make membership a challenging but positive experience:
1. FOSTER UNITY:
- Have the members of your group/organization work together on a community service project.
- Visit a ropes course to work on group cohesiveness, communication and leadership skills, like Poplar Ridge.
- Have members to work together to plan a social or athletic event with another group.
2. DEVELOP PROBLEM-SOLVING ABILITIES:
- Have new members discuss organizational opportunities for improvement, such as apathy or scholarship, and plan solutions that the group might then adopt.
3. DEVELOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS:
- Encourage participation on Grounds outside of the organization.
- Encourage new members to get involved in organizational committees and/or leadership roles.
- Develop a peer mentor program within your group for leadership roles.
- Invite leaders from the University or Charlottesville community into the organization to share their experiences.
- Attend leadership development retreats and workshops.
5. INSTILL A SENSE OF MEMBERSHIP:
- Plan special events when the entire organization gets together to attend a movie, play, or community event.
- Plan a “membership circle” when all members participate in a candlelight service in which each person has a chance to express what membership means to them.
6. PROMOTE SCHOLARSHIP:
- Take advantage of your University academic and tutoring services.
- Designate study hours for members of your organization.
- Invite University or community experts to discuss test-taking skills, study methods, time management, etc.
7. BUILD AWARENESS OF HISTORY:
- Invite alumni to talk about the organization’s early days, its founding, special chapter traditions, and prominent former members.
- Learn what the organization means to prominent alumni members and how timeless values endure from their time to the present.
8. AID CAREER GOALS:
- Use University resources for seminars on resume writing and job interview skills.
- Invite professionals to speak about various careers.
10. INVOLVE NEW MEMBERS IN THE COMMUNITY:
- Get involved with University and community service projects.
- Plan fundraisers for local charitable organizations.
11. BUILD COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS:
- Encourage new members to plan joint social or service projects with other organizations.
(Adapted from www.stophazing.org)
When organizations are challenged to eliminate hazing practices, some members are often resistant to this change. In many cases, those who are most vocal against eliminating hazing are those who are bitter and angry about the hazing that they themselves endured (but don’t admit this publicly) and expect that others should be abused in order to gain “true” membership in the group. You will also find that some of these folks are likely to be bullies of the group–people who enjoy a “power trip” at the expense of someone else.
Of course, if you try to eliminate hazing in your organization, you will likely encounter many elaborate reasons for why this will be devastating for your group. While there will be some staunch supporters of the status quo, there will be many who can be convinced of the negative effects and potential risks of hazing. Believers in the supposed “benefits” of hazing may be more likely to change their opinion if they can envision some alternatives. The supposed “benefits” of hazing follow in bold with non-hazing alternatives to accomplish the same goal listed alongside.