Don’t be misguided by the glitter of intrigue

 

After reading the article on the proposed campus-wide ban on pledging within USC’s Fraternity and Sorority Life, I was speechless. While some call it an “overreaction” and others deem it necessary for social change, I was shocked that university leadership broke silence on an issue that was highlighted nine months ago when I got impeached, for “doing the right thing, though not following the rules.”

 I believe this is a response in which university leaders decline to admit guilt, yet desire to be the pioneers moving forward.

Anytime there are potential new members in the hospital, let alone students like Tucker Hipps and Charles Terreni Jr. die as a result of fraternity activity, there is a serious problem. A serious problem that has posed health and safety risks to all members for years, not just in 2015. I also believe IFC recruitment is a threat to the image and sustainability of Fraternity and Sorority Life as a whole. Regardless of your Council affiliation, we are all Greek, and therefore suffer from the repercussions that stem from each other’s shortcomings, including IFC recruitment.

A shared purpose to joining a fraternity is to become a part of an entity with shared values and commitment to service, not to sacrifice your health for the Greek alphabet.

Instituting a change such as this is no doubt a risk. Though there is potential for organizations to improve their behavior, there is also opportunity for organizations to take their processes underground thus increasing incidences of hazing. The university’s response is perceived to be extreme because there has not been a conversation in which all stakeholders are present and contribute to operationalizing what actions of accountability and responsibility should look like in the FSL community at USC.

There is an obvious disconnect between university leadership, student leadership, and third-party stakeholders when the pronouns “we” and “they” are thrown around as if this is not our problem to solve together.

Right now, the intrigue of imposing a campus-wide ban has become more important than the vision of keeping all students safe and healthy at the University of South Carolina. We cannot continue to be pushed by our problems from the past and should give up the hope of yesterday. Instead, we should be led by our dreams of what we believe the FSL community at USC should not only represent, but also become. I agree that something needs to be done to improve the current state of FSL.

I am flexible in my approach and remain dedicated to assisting however I can, as a fraternity man, former Fraternity Council President and Gamecock alumnus.

Unfortunately, I did not get invited nor was aware of the summit involving USC’s leaders and national Greek officials last month. I wish I had been invited because I have a variety of ideas I believe can be successful in the FSL community. As I wrote in my impeachment response letter, I am forever committed to addressing the health and safety concerns of our community.

I look forward to speaking with leaders at USC as well as visiting with other universities to encourage student leaders to engage in intentional conversation about moral courage, ethical leadership, and self-governance.

There is a consensus of confusion as this news is making its way around to my peers, both at USC and other institutions around the country. Some expected a proposal such as this to be considered March 2015, after a tragic death.  Others are asking, “why now?,” as they feel as if this a conversation that has been delayed for months. Many are concerned about how they will be able to select potential new members to join their organizations, assuming the proposal is pushed through, because of the shortened two-week time period to evaluate someone’s character whom you just met.

Overall, I believe there is pushback because of a lack of transparency and dialogue. Civility in long-term dialogue does not include impeachment nor suggesting a campus-wide ban on pledging within USC’s Greek Life.

Accountability does not mean you’re blaming others, but encouraging them to do the right thing.

Finding harmony in controversy is not easy.  However, change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We should honor this space between no longer and not yet. This is the moment we have been waiting for and together, we are right we are supposed to be.

Encourage somebody to be great today!

Tim Bryson 

#YCIV

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