Alternatives to Hazing
Please keep this in mind when planning activities for your organization:
Some of the activities listed below may seem more relevant to all-male groups than all-female groups. Similarly, some may seem more relevant to fraternities and sororities than other organizations.
Activities cannot include consumption of alcohol by new members.
Some group activities can be non-hazing or hazing, depending on how they are done. For example, having new members do skits can be a non-hazing activity. But not if members verbally degrade the performers or throw food at them. Similarly, scavenger hunts are not inherently forms of hazing (as any day camp counselor can tell you). But when the list includes things that must be stolen or would likely be humiliating or embarrassing to obtain, then it becomes hazing.
Having current members participate along with new members in certain activities, such as cleaning the chapter property, can shift the activity from being hazing (i.e., servitude) to non-hazing.
Community Service & Philanthropy
Divide the new members into two groups with current members as team leaders and conduct a ravines clean-up on a Saturday morning.
Serve meals once a week at a local homeless shelter, or distribute food at a food bank.
Require new members to perform a set amount of community service hours in support of community agencies. Have the new members appoint leaders within their group develop a plan through Grand Valley's Community Service Learning Center.
Service Learning Trips
New members and selected current members spend spring break working with GVSU Alternative Breaks.
Work with Grand Valley's Community Service Learning Center to explore additional service learning opportunities.
Set up a "big brother/big sister" mentoring program. Assign the mentor responsibility for teaching about the values of the organization and monitoring the new member's participation and academic performance (to ensure minimal expectations are met).
Have mentor take new member out to dinner or to an athletic or cultural event at least three times.
Put on a talent show. Include categories such as karaoke singing, instrumental music, skits, impersonations, and magic tricks. Since it is not the new members' responsibility to entertain the members, have willing members from each year participate and entertain each other.
Hold a movie night for new members in the Big Screen Theater in Kirkhof. Find out what's playing and when on CAB's website.
Share Common Activities
Have new members join members for meals 2-3 times a week, either on or off-campus.
Reserve a room on campus and schedule bonding sessions to allow for current members to find out more about new members, and vice versa. Provide the group with discussion questions that they are expected to talk about. Start with non-threatening questions or incomplete statements (e.g., "If I had a billion dollars, I would . . .") and end with more probing ones (e.g., "I'm afraid that . . . " or "If I could live my life over I would . . . " Option: have each member write a question on a card and put it in a question box. Select one question at a time and discuss it.
Hold study hours in which new members are expected to be present and studying with current members. Provide food if budget permits.
Divide new members into two teams. Give them each a box full of miscellaneous materials. Give them one hour to devise a competitive game using all of the items (only rules: everyone must plan and no one can get hurt). Have the two teams compete against each other.
Have members go with new members to a local ski resort for a day of skiing, a sporting event such as a Grand Rapids Griffins game, Grand Rapids Drive game, West Michigan Whitecaps game, a play or musical in Grand Rapids, fun at Craig's Cruisers, or any other events which gets members away from campus, and involved in something besides school work, or the organization.
Have each new member meet with his or her mentor weekly to review the new member's knowledge of the group and its members.
Provide written guidelines for new members outlining the expectations of the group.
Hold new member review panels periodically in which a small group of members discusses the new member's progress with him or her. If deficiencies or a lack of commitment is noted, the panel places the new member on probation.
In serious situations, the organization determines whether or not to terminate the relationship with the new member.
Physical Team Builders
Have your group participate in activities such as a high-ropes course or rock climbing.
The following facilities offer opportunities for your organization:
GVSU Climbing Center (Rock Wall)
Aim Climbing (Rock Wall)
John Ball Park Zoo Sky Trail (High Ropes Course)
Have new members compete in basketball, volleyball or softball against current members or other groups.
Have new members compete against current members in bowling or golf.
Have new members compete against members in laser tag or paint ball.
Start an intramural team with both new members and current members.
Have new members learn about the history underlying values of the organization. Divide them into groups and have them prepare Powerpoint presentations about the organization. Make the presentations preparation for the work world: have current members dress formally. Invite alumni to attend.
Have current members and alumni speak to current members about the values of the group and what they hope the new members will contribute and receive as part their experience.