In the wake of controversy surrounding Cal Poly’s greek system, three students in fraternities have recently been awarded for their anti-hazing efforts.
Social sciences senior Jacob Lopez, materials engineering junior Andrew Righter and soil science senior Daniel Kim have all been officially recognized by hazingprevention.org for the actions they have taken to eliminate hazing from their respective fraternities.
Hazingprevention.org is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate people about what hazing is and provide resources to help change the hazing culture within groups. Every year, the Hank Nuwer Anti-Hazing Hero Award is given to individuals who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to combat hazing. The organization defines hazing as any action taken, or situation intentionally created, that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule. This year, all six recipients were affiliated with greek life.
Cal Poly alumnus Adrian Herrera who won an anti-hazing hero award in 2008, nominated his Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity brothers Lopez and Righter for the award in 2009.
Lopez pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon in the spring of 2006. As a new member, he did not like the way his pledge class was treated.
“When I joined, there was a hazing new member process,” Lopez said. “It focused primarily on calisthenics. I would say it was similar to boot camp.”
During Lopez’s second year, Herrera convinced him that hazing misrepresented the values of the organization. Lopez helped eliminate hazing within his fraternity by reaching out to his brothers on an individual basis.
“What I really tried to do was show people how much their problems with our organization matched up with the problems associated with hazing,” Lopez said. “I guess I really tried to spearhead the logical aspect of our argument against hazing.”
Lopez served as new member Educator for a year. During this time, he developed a hazing-free program that focused on positive fraternity ideals. Lopez is the current president of Tau Kappa Epsilon.
Righter pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon before Lopez, in the fall of 2006 and served as president during the fraternity’s transitory period in 2007. He shared the same ideals as many of the members who were standing up against hazing at the time.
“I believe that no matter how mild or severe any hazing is, it should not be a part of a Greek organization because it completely contradicts the values we pledge to uphold as a member,” Righter said. “I was part of a new member class that got hazed.”
Making Tau Kappa Epsilon a hazing-free organization was not a walk in the park. Initially, many members who were opposed to change quit the fraternity. However, Righter’s leadership ultimately prevailed. He helped his house double its membership and assisted Lopez in educating new members in a hazing-free environment.
“The reason I was chosen for this award is because I was the president during a time of transition,” Righter said. “I helped lead my fraternity through a tough time and ensured that we didn’t slip back into old habits.”
Kim, a member of the Delta Chi fraternity, won the anti-hazing hero award for his stand against hazing within his fraternity.
“As new member education chair, I had a lot of control over what the associate members did,” Kim said. “I also took a hard stance against some of the things we used to do.”
Kim joined in the fall of 2004 and underwent a new member education program that involved hazing. He ran into opposition while attempting to get rid of these traditions by approaching various brothers and discussing the pros and cons of hazing.
“A lot of people were really against what I was trying to do,” Kim said.
Kim decided to address his entire fraternity by giving a speech about why hazing was hurting the fraternity.
“I gave this speech and presentation to the chapter about the negative aspects of hazing and people rallied behind me,” Kim said.
He eventually compromised with Delta Chi by designing a new member education program that he thought was more healthy and safe for members but also retained some traditions.