Monday, October 5, 2015
Hazing Prevention Week
I've served as an expert witness in hazing cases since 1998, so I have to keep up with hazing. This actually started when I was coordinator of Greek Life at Emory where I was responsible for much of the hazing training. So over the years I have not only trained students on my campus, but across the nation. That week I spoke at both North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central.
So a year ago I was surprised to get an e-mail from Michael Morton, former fraternity chapter president and SGA president who spent 2 years in jail- for hazing. In part, he said he wanted to play a role in helping to warn students about the consequences. It was a strong letter and I promised I would find an opportunity for him.
I had been appointed as chair of a hazing task force by the North American Inter-fraternity conference, and for our summer meeting I asked Michael if he would Skype in. My task force was blown away. Although the vast majority were members of predominantly white fraternities, Michael's story resonated with all of us. At that point I knew I needed to bring him to New Orleans.
Michael graciously accepted and during the last week of September, hazing prevention week, he spoke to over 600 students from several campuses about his experience. I don't want to retell the story- it is one that all college students should hear in person. So I am asking that you feel free to contact me so I can connect you with him and have him speak on your campus. Michael gave one of the most personal hazing experiences I have ever heard- absolutely phenomenal!
I will share this. I believe in lectures because they provide spaces for people to come together. The beauty is that you never know who might show up. Before the lecture Michael indicated he saw the father of the young man injured at FAMU which lead to his arrest and jailing. I was thinking that couldn't possible be true- he lives in Atlanta.
Well, after the event a man approached me and said he was the father of the student injured! He was also Michael's fraternity brother. Okay, I was a little nervous but he indicated he had no ill will. In fact, back then he and I spoke on the phone as the lawyers considered me as an expert witness for that case (I was not involved though). So when just about everyone was gone I saw these men (and a third fraternity brother who drove the father to New Orleans) have a heart to heart talk.
It really was a beautiful moment of reconciliation.
And that's why Brain Food is important.