Morehouse College (via Morehouse)

Gregory S. Parks argues at the Huffington Post that the truth surrounding the controversial practice is more complicated than either side accepts.

On 19 November 2011, Robert Champion, a 26 year-old, African American drum major in Florida A&M University's "Marching 100" band, collapsed on a charter bus and died as a result of hazing. Over the past ten months, commentators, critics, and concerned citizens have wondered and opined about why hazing persists within student culture. Many have focused — if not more, without question differently — on black student groups vis-a-vis their white counterparts, with physical violence seen as the main issue for the former and substance abuse the latter…

So, what's the solution? How do we end the madness? The solution, I suggest, starts at the beginning, with the essence of the problem. Some will suggest that such analysis is simple, that there is one, easily discernible source to the problem. Having spent the past, almost decade, thinking, researching, and writing about BGLOs [black Greek-letter organizations], I argue that the problem is complex. But if I had to choose a starting-point, I would say that it's beliefs unhinged from (or loosely hinged to) facts. My colleagues, Drs. Matthew Hughey, Shayne Jones, and I have a forthcoming, empirical article on BGLO hazing in the Howard Law Journalentitled "Belief, Truth, and Positive Organizational Deviance." In it, we argue that BGLO members have motivated cognitions when it comes to hazing. Motivated cognition is an individual's automatic tendency to fit his or her information processing to conclusions that suit some end or goal. They readily gravitate toward information that supports their beliefs; they discount, if not shun, information that disconfirms their beliefs. As Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign responded when called out on their lie that President Obama was ditching welfare work requirements, BGLO members might say the same, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."

Read Gregory S. Parks' entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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