Friday, October 18, 2013

Moving? Splendid!

LP Stacey and I are in the process of moving from our very cramped little house to a far more spacious condo.  We have two weeks of overlap between getting the keys to the new place and needing to be out of the old place, so we're trying to make at least one trip a night to make Big Moving Day go a little more smoothly.

Every single time I move (and I moved a lot during college), I think about the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone, and how Merlin was able to pack everything he owned into a small bag with nothing but a wave of his wand and a musical spell.  Oh, how I wish this was possible in real life...

Every time I prepare to move, I tell myself that it's going to be better than the last time.  I'm going to be more organized.  I'm going to pack earlier.  I'm going to go through my closet before I start packing to sort things for donation.  I do think I've gotten slightly better at it over the years (though Scott would probably disagree), but I've come to realize that there are a few phases of moving that I will never get over.  

Phase 1: Optimism
"This is going to be great!"  I'm so excited to move into the new place!  It's going to be so cute!  I'm going to keep it so nice and clean!"

Phase 2: Denial
"We still have plenty of time to pack.  I know we're going to be out of town for three days in the middle of  the move, but that's fine.  Besides, I don't really have that much stuff."

Phase 3: Acceptance
"I should probably start packing.  The two week overlap is not really that much time.  New plan: pack at least one box per night till we get the keys.  Then move one truckload every night."

Phase 4: Purging
"When was the last time I used this?  Do I need it?  I don't think I need it.  Donation pile!"

Phase 5: Meltdown
"Mom? I don't think I can get this all done before we move.  Can you take the afternoon off of work tomorrow to come help me?  You can?  Great!  Wait, I can handle it.  Nevermind... Well maybe...  I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT I WANT, OKAY?!  I'M JUST SO TIRED OF MOVING!  I NEVER WANT TO MOVE AGAIN!  I'M GOING TO DIE IN THE NEW APARTMENT!"

Phase 6: Desperation/Panic
"I don't know what box I want that in!  Here, just throw it in this garbage bag.  No, I know it already has a shoe, a blanket, and a bunch of hangers in it.  That doesn't mean you can't put that can of beans in there too.  It will be fine.  Just put it in the bag!" Also, "We can clean the kitchen with bathroom cleaner, right?  Like use this bleach spray stuff inside the fridge, right?  Whatever, it will be clean, and that's all that matters."

Phase 7: Closure
"I am so glad to be out of this crappy house.  I won't miss the crooked floors, faulty appliances, or two front doors."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hazing Prevention? Splendid!

So, last week I heard a story about an organization on our local college campus that, like every other organization, does "getting to know you" activities before initiating new members.  I think icebreakers and group games are a great way to get to know potential members.  It’s also a great way for potential members to decide if they genuinely want to join a group.

What concerns me was the nature of these activities.  I was only told about two of them, so I’m sure some of the others are totally innocuous.  The two I heard about, though, gave me some cause for concern. 

Activity 1 included pledges being blindfolded, driven around campus, and dropped off at a previously unknown location (this year, the cemetery) with the rest of the initiation class, and told to find their way home.

Activity 2 paired potential new members with members form the brother organization.  The brothers competed to create the best hairstyle on their partner.  Instead of styling their actual hair, they used shaving cream as sculpting material.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m a member of Sigma Alpha Iota.  In addition to being a member of the fraternity, I also serve as an advisor to the collegiate chapter at U of I, and I oversaw 4 collegiate chapters during my term as a Province Officer for the organization.  SAI takes hazing very seriously, and because of this, I’m pretty sensitive to the subject.  We have a fairly strict hazing policy that forbids “any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers mental or physical health or any action taken or situation created which produces mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”

I’m sure my experiences in such a group are what set off the alarms in my head the moment I heard “blindfolded”.  I'm really sad that these activities happened, but I’m especially sad they happened to mostly freshman girls.  These young women are looking for support and friendship, and this is what they receive.  When one girl was told that sounded like hazing, her response was "but they didn't yell at us, and no one got hurt!"

That broke my heart.  It also made me mad.  I wish I could explain to that young woman that hazing doesn’t always end up in injury or death.  It isn’t limited to verbal abuse or alcohol consumption.  It’s about stripping an individual of his or her dignity.

The week before these incidents occurred was National Hazing Prevention week, which adds a whole new layer of frustration to the story, in my opinion. is full of useful information on the subject.  It has a thorough definition of hazing, as well as the difference between hazing and bullying.  There are all sorts of resources and ideas for activities.  I highly suggest checking it out.

I have to reiterate how happy I am to be in a fraternity that takes hazing very seriously.  I am so proud of my collegiate chapter advisees for being keenly aware that potential new members and members-in-training should be treated with respect.