March 21st, 2014. This is a moment that should be recorded for you to remember for the rest of your life — the day that you stood up for your beliefs despite peer pressure, stuck by your morals, and didn’t compromise your principles in exchange for success, popularity, materiality and acceptance. Cherish this moment, and keep on being the best you possible.
To: Delta Sigma Pi Pledge Bros
Subject: Au Revoir
Hey pledge bros,
After a lot of thinking for the past 4.5 weeks and hearing the opinions of my close friends, fellow pledge brothers, and current DSP brothers, I’ve decided that I’m going to have to drop out of the DSP pledging process.
It is absolutely undeniable that DSP offers so many great resources: internship and networking opportunities, an environment to improve social and leadership skills, a supporting community that creates deep, long-lasting friendships, and so, so much more. We’ve all heard about what a great impact this fraternity has had on each and every single brother’s life, and I was so excited and honored to be given the opportunity to experience that. Receiving a bid was probably one of the happiest moments of my life (no joke) because I’ve been looking forward to rushing DSP ever since the beginning of my first semester here at UNC.
Yet, regardless of how many awesome things that come out of this, it pains me to say that I cannot be a part of DSP if hazing is a practice that is not only acceptable, but extremely welcome here. It goes against all of my principles and beliefs, as well as who I am and what I stand for. It is the only con on my chart that consists of a seemingly infinite amount of pros; yet, the fact that it puts my morals into jeopardy is enough to outweigh all the pros.
I can see how some people don’t think that what happened during pledge retreat or the “Ernst & Young professional event” even constitutes as hazing, or they do but just don’t feel bothered by it. Rationalization for it has been that it it is a simulation of a stressful situation that may occur in the workplace. Justification for it has been that it has been occurring for years and it’s tradition, so it should continue for the sake of tradition.
Personally, I feel as though it does constitute as hazing. Hazing is any action taken or situation created to intentionally cause embarrassment or ridicule, risking the emotional and/or physical harm of members of a group or team, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. I understand that everyone grows up in different environments and experiences different things, often shaping how they act and react to different stimuli. For me, having the brothers verbally abuse us and get up in our faces evoked bad memories (memories that, to be honest, make pledge retreat seem like nothing). I didn’t feel personally victimized or targeted by any means, but I did feel degraded and disrespected. I understand the concept that we’re all pledges so we don’t receive the same level of respect as brothers have. However, we’re still living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings, which garners us a certain degree of esteem. I would never, ever want to treat anyone the way we’ve been treated.
When I heard that this was a professional fraternity, that’s what I expected out of it. Professionalism. I don’t believe that hazing is professional by any means, and a stressful workplace situation could easily be simulated by a different activity. I also don’t believe that tradition is justification for an action — a look at history gives us more than enough evidence. If DSP were to stop hazing, I would absolutely want to be a part of it and I would swear by it to the grave. Unfortunately, many brothers I’ve talked to have made it clear that it isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Thus, I’m going to have to drop out of DSP. I really do love you all and the brothers as well, which has made this one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I don’t think any less of you all as individuals and still hold so much respect and appreciation for each and every one of you. Getting to know all of you has been such a pleasure, and I hope if any of you ever run into me, you’ll still acknowledge me and say hi. But, I understand if its different now. I just hope that none of you think any less of me because of this.
Pledging with you all has been an absolute honor. Wishing you all the best of luck in getting initiated!
From: Oliver S.
Subject: (From Oliver, open!)
Just read your email. I’m so sorry about the moral dilemma you’ve been going through, and I wish it hadn’t been so difficult. I really admire you for sticking with what you think is right. It was a real pleasure to get to know you this semester, and I’ll always say hi when we see each other on campus! I know it took a lot to decide to drop, and I commend you for doing the best thing for you even when there was pressure to get everyone through initiation. I hope you don’t think any less of us, but rather have a difference in opinion, but regardless, you will be missed! Hope to see you around kenan-Flagler sometime after we both get in (fingers crossed).
From: Rangoli B.
I just wanted to say that I am tremendously proud of you for sticking to your beliefs. I am glad to have had the chance to get to know you. You are definitely going places and if ever I can be of any help, do not ever hesitate to reach out. Let’s grab coffee or lunch sometime soon if you want and we can chat about life!
I am just a text or message away! ###-###-####
From: Amanda S.
Subject: RE: Au Revoir
I know it must have been really hard for you to do this. If you ever need anything in the future or just want to go out or get lunch sometime feel free to call or text me!
Just wanted to let you know that I’m there for you and that I understand your decision and still would love to hang out in the future.
From: Stephen H.
It’s Stephen! I’m sorry to see that I won’t be pledging with you anymore but I’m very happy I got to know you! I’m glad you made the right choice for you and hope you only experience the best at UNC and life!
From: Austin S.
Although painful to read, beautifully put. You’re going to do big things, Jennifer, and your moral compass that seems to be the strongest out of 117 driven, intelligent, and highly motivated individuals has a big part to play. I don’t want to imagine anyone feeling anything but the upmost respect for you and your position, but I certainly won’t tolerate anything to the contrary and don’t hesitate to let me know if any issues to that effect arise. While you were and (I hope) will continue to be my friend (now outside of DSP), the other pledges are still under my jurisdictionI have quite a bit of self-reflection to do about my own values and how strongly I cling to them over the next few weeks, months, or maybe even years. This doesn’t justify my sticking with the fraternity on a moral ground, but I promise you that I’ll do everything I can to make a difference in how the fraternity handles the pledging process. With our loss of you in mind, it has to stop and I’ll set that as a personal goal for the next six semesters.In a difficult effort to try and be as positive as I can despite how much I’ll miss having you around: I, the pledge bros, and the brothers you’ve connected with will see you around! All the best~
From: Tara V.
Message: Hey Jennifer! First off, so sorry I didn’t respond earlier. I was at dance marathon and I just got done!! I respect your decision and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I am sorry I had not been there for you more as a big. It is my duty to ensure you are comfortable and finding the pledging process convenient and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do that to the best of my abilities because of other time commitments. I’d like to meet up over lunch or dinner and just talk about your decision and the reasoning behind it. I have no idea what happened so I want to make sure there is no sense of animosity from you towards DSP or the other way. You are a wonderful and genuine girl and I really enjoyed getting to know you a little bit. I can always be here for you as a mentor, so don’t worry. Let me know when you want to meet up so we can talk more detailed in person 🙂 Thanks for texting me and keeping me in the loop!
From: Caroline L.
Message: Hey Jennifer! It’s Caroline. I just wanted to let you know I respect your decision to drop from pledging but I will really miss you! You’re a special girl and I enjoyed getting to know you. I would still like to hang out sometime and you are definitely welcome to come to my bible study too (I think we talked about that a little bit!) Anytime you want to talk or hang out, I’m just a text/phone call away. Hope to see you soon!
From: Michael L.
Message: That’s a fair opinion and I respect you for making that decision. And we can still be close without DSP obviously, I’m glad you went with your heart.