The Geneseo Inter-Greek Council has embraced National Anti-Hazing week by initiating a campaign titled “Geneseo Uknighting for Change,” which jumpstarted on Sunday Sept. 28. The IGC hosted keynote speaker Mari Ann Callais in Wadsworth Auditorium, giving the Greek community an opportunity to discuss the importance of both sister and brotherhood.
Callais attended Loyola University in New Orleans as an undergraduate, but furthered her education at Louisiana State University, receiving her master’s in education and doctorate in educational leadership. She has presented on fraternity and sorority life over 600 times on campuses nationwide.
“We’re not just going to talk about hazing,” she said as she launched into an hour-long conversational and musical presentation on Greek values and expectations. “We are going to discuss what makes you exceptional and responsible as sorority sisters and fraternity brothers.”
Callais asked students to explain the values the founders of their organizations expected, emphasizing traits such as leadership, service and scholarship. She highlighted the importance of the history behind Greek life and ritual, reminding students to respect the foundations behind their organizations.
Geneseo Greek peer education co-coordinator senior Franco Spadafora recruited Callais to speak at Geneseo for National Anti-Hazing week after observing her at a Greek education panel.
“I was touched by her message,” he said. “Her speech is about positive action, not about things we shouldn’t be doing. She inspires people to make change without telling them what they’re doing wrong.”
Spadafora said the student response has been positive, as students have shown appreciation for the interactive nature of the presentation. Students were encouraged to volunteer in both comical and thoughtful conversations.
“If at least one student from each organization understands the message and works to appreciate their organization’s history, I think we have accomplished our goal,” Spadafora said.
Callais’ keynote address prefaced a week of IGC activities focusing on the theme, “These Hands Don’t Haze.” Activities included crafts, giveaways and presentations each encouraging positive influence throughout the community.
Geneseo Assistant Dean of Students for Fraternal Life and Off-Campus Services Wendi Kinney has observed changes in accountability and acceptable behavior since the implementation of the Uknighting for Change campaign.
“This week is an opportunity for the 27 organizations to come together and create positive changes involving issues with hazing, alcohol and violence,” Kinney said. “These students have an ability to change the community.”