Dear initiated members,
Congratulations on your new members!
You all have an incredible opportunity as well as an incredible responsibility ahead of you. Your role is to help shape new members into being a better version of themselves through the fraternity/sorority life experience. However, you are also responsible for how they are treated as new members of your organization. As a leader and role model for new members, you should be helping them develop their strengths and gain skills that they may be lacking.
You are essentially their older brother or sister while at school. You are their family! Please treat your new members like you would treat your own biological brother or sister. Look out for them. Notice when they aren’t sleeping or when they’re only sleeping. Notice when they are struggling in school or struggling socially. Notice when they are sick. Especially notice when they are going overboard with their college experience. Everyone should be able to work hard and enjoy themselves in their down time. But help your new brothers and sisters determine their limits, and make sure you get them medical attention should they ever need it. Guide them with what you’ve learned along the way. Hold them accountable for their slip-ups, and like a parent or older sibling, let them learn. But always do it with kindness and concern for their well-being, their future and the future of your organization.
Remember you are in school to better your future—do not let yourself or anyone else jeopardize that through reckless behavior. What you do is a reflection on you and your organization. If someone is not a good fit for your organization and becomes a risk factor through their actions, you need to speak up and make sure the situation is dealt with appropriately, which may include that person’s removal from your organization. Do not allow hazing in any form and put a stop to inappropriate behavior, especially a sexual assault, drug use or alcohol abuse. Stepping up and calling out a peer who is engaging in risky or inappropriate behavior is not always easy or even the popular choice; however, it is always the right choice. Taking action takes courage and you will learn valuable life lessons if you do the right thing.
You should be a role model, a friend, an ally, the person who builds someone up instead of tearing them down. You could be someone’s fond memory or even the person who helped turn someone’s life around. Or you could be the person that someone resents. It is your choice! You may never even know how your kindness or guidance may have helped one of your members, but it will come back to you. We have learned over the years that when you help people succeed, others will help you in return.
Always keep this in mind: how would you want your younger brother or sister to be treated? Your members and new members are someone’s children, siblings, cousins, friends—please consider the impacts and repercussions of your actions and the actions of your fellow members.
You most likely cannot undo things when something goes wrong, so avoid situations that could potentially result in something that would damage you or someone else.
In our son Tim’s situation, people did not value him or value his life. No one had his back. No one cared to make sure he got medical attention when he desperately needed it after being hazed. Tim lost his life because of meanness, cruelty and indifference. He would have been an incredible asset to the organization. He would have been the loyal friend, the study partner, the teammate, the workout buddy, the source of fun and laughs, the go-to person if someone needed to talk. And he would have done admirable things with his life by helping people, especially children, by designing prosthetics. He had so much potential, and it was snuffed out so unnecessarily with his death, which hurt so many people.
Please strive to be the good that Tim would have been and the protector of those who need it, like he was. He wanted to be the role model for those younger than him and help people, all while making them smile and laugh. Please make sure nothing like this happens again and “Live Like Tim!”
You may not bond with every single person in your organization and you don’t need to be best friends with everyone, but you are part of this incredible network that may serve you for the rest of your life. Some of these people may be in your wedding. Some of these people may help with a job search or in other ways throughout your career. The leadership and interpersonal skills that you develop in college and in your organization will serve you well in your future career and relationships. Respect yourself and be respected by others. Hold yourself and your fellow members to a high standard. Live by your creed and become better people, making the world a better place for having been in it. Remember how important you are to your parents, family and friends and do your best to make them proud of you. And remember that kindness matters!
Evelyn and Jim Piazza