Monday, May 23, 2011

Where are the Outraged Fraternity Men?

Several weeks ago, the Executive Director of Delta Upsilon Fraternity sent his Board of Directors, of which I am a member, website links to news stories detailing the despicable behavior of some young fraternity men at Yale University. It appears that the University is investigating the charges against the men, and perhaps even the Justice Department. The sites are below.

http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2011/mar/31/breaking-does-office-civil-rights-investigate-yale/

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/04/29/amid_yale_investigation_some_critics_want_to_end_fraternities

I have waited these several weeks for what I hoped might develop: a response from the National Fraternity community or from local chapters of undergraduate men just as appalled as I was to read about the alleged deeds of these men who represent our fraternity community. To date, I have heard nothing. I am disgusted there has been no response, no counter statement to the media that says that the general fraternity world abhors and denounces the behavior of these few men and this behavior in no way represents the many outstanding men who are living out their undergraduate careers with great honor and respect. Not a single word. College women and the general public are left to assume that all college fraternity men are wild alcoholic pigs, while there are editorials calling for the elimination of campus fraternities.

So I am using this space to call for a national response to these heinous charges and deeper discussion that needs to begin to redefine mature college masculinity for the 21st Century.

Imagine campuses all over the country with mature student leaders who return to their campuses in the fall ready to revolt against old boyish indignant behavior. Imagine young men willing to step through fear and into the challenge of their lives. Imagine young men not afraid to revolt and take a stand against other college men's repressive social behavior. Imagine men willing to take off their masks and break through their personal barriers. Imagine men ready to take real risks and step into their full power. Imagine young men not afraid to embrace ALL the characteristics required of men in changing global times: resiliency, integrity, courage, creativity, innovation, adaptability, compassion, empathy, radical self-responsibility, inclusivity, generosity and respect.

Imagine if every National Fraternity that is hosting a summer leadership conference this summer included a session on challenging their undergraduate men to develop a local response, a local revolt to the Yale case to be coordinated on their respective campuses. Imagine if we asked young college men to go right up to the edge - and beyond it - in a culture that seems to be comfortable with mediocrity and passivity from men. Imagine if we ask young men to stop living a vicarious adventure through their TV's, video games, and smartphones and step into a real time adventure to get in touch with their deep, and maybe buried and unknown passion for life. Imagine if we ask young college men to confront the real problems in their campus lives and to get 100% honest about who they are.

The demands and pressures that young college men face today require an extraordinary level of courage, authenticity and tenacity. Are you ready to take a risk to see the impact of a group of young men who decide to go another direction?

It's time for a new Fraternity men's culture; in the national Fraternal men's association culture, to each Fraternity headquarters, to the local campus. It's time! In fact, it's past time. Let's begin imagining a new young men's leadership development culture!

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