PLEDGE TO PUT THE PADDLE IN THE PAST
If you're a member of a Greek fraternity or sorority, odds are you're familiar with the paddle. In the beginning, it was used to physically assault men and women who wanted to join an organization. Unfortunately, the paddle continues to be used in this manner, but it has become a symbol of brotherhood/sisterhood as well.
Every year, thousands of paddles are sold to members of Greek organizations, emblazoned with their fraternity/sorority letters and often further embellished by the buyers and given to their brothers/sisters as gifts without malice. Ironically, this gift, intended as a sign of love, respect and honor for one's big or little sister or brother, is a symbol of the exact opposite: violence, disrespect and physical harm.
It's time to put the paddle in the past and to start some new giving traditions.
Many national Greek organizations have already recognized the need to not simply discourage, but to end the tradition of gifting paddles bearing their letters. They have set policies with retailers of paddles forbidding their letters on them; however, some members continue the tradition. HazingPrevention.Org has launched the Put the Paddle in the Past Initiative with four key goals:
1. To educate people about the negative connotations of the paddle as a symbol of hazing;
2. To encourage the replacement of the paddle with other, positive symbols, such as wooden plaques shaped in the symbols of individual Greek organizations;
3. To demonstrate support for this intiative throughout North America by those who have taken the Put the Paddle in the Past Pledge, and;
4. To witness the end of paddle sales entirely.
Greek101 has partnered with HPO in this effort by commiting to phasing out its sale of paddles within the next four years. Greek101 has agreed to promote paddle alternatives on its website and to package with each paddle sold an education piece about the negative symbolism of the product. To see the starting line-up of alternative gifts, visit the Greek101 website.
To read a blog post by HazingPrevention.Org Executive Director Tracy Maxwell about her personal actions with paddles given to her as gifts, take a couple of minutes and see what you think.
Read the pledge here, sign it and submit it if you want to Put the Paddle in the Past, and be a part of starting new traditions.