Speaker informs students ‘hazing is a lie’

By Lisa Ferro

NIU Greek chapters need to relearn the meaning of pride, according to a national fraternity executive director.

David Westol, national executive director of Theta Chi, said hazing, a form of harassment or humiliation, is similar to cancer in that it grows and develops. Westol’s speech Wednesday, “Hazing on Trial” focused on the attitudes of hazers.

The audience, mostly students from NIU sororities and fraternities, sat with their organizations.

Westol spoke directly to these organizations throughout his speech. “It’s not how much hazing you do, it’s that you do it at all,” he said.

Greeks need to face reality, Westol said. “There were 27 deaths (because of hazing) in the last 14 years at different college chapters.”

The speech consisted of a mock situation in which he asked the audience to put themselves in the place of a chapter president putting pledges through hell week.

He went through the actions and attitudes of this person as new pledges came in and experienced hell week. His main focus was to show Greeks “hazing is a lie.”

Hazing chapters do not understand the true meaning of leadership. “They are made up of members who want to cruise through life,” he said.

“Every hell week chapter has a fake ending,” Westol said. At the end of hell week, active members tell pledges they are accepted into the organization, but a pledge becomes an active only when he has taken his rituals. This is another reason why “hazing is a lie,” he said.

At the end of his speech, he admitted he was the person in the mock situation. “That was my hell week,” he said, “I was one of the biggest hazers in my chapter.”

For two years Westol said he was proud of what he did. Now he said he’s sorry and tells his story so others can learn from it.