T.J. Sullivan, who has spoken to more than 1 million students throughout his career, came to the College last week to teach students how to confront the “idiot” in their organization. Though the program was open to the entire campus, the message focused primarily on Greek life.
“There will always be someone in your chapter who drives you nuts,” Sullivan, who is still a member of Phi Kappa Phi, said.
According to Rachel Yarin, vice president of programming for Inter-Greek Council (IGC), the wxrkshop was one of three that students currently pledging a Greek organization must attend.
Sullivan started by inviting the audience to picture the biggest idiot in their life, then shout the person’s first name and “You’re an idiot!”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could start our fraternity and sorority meetings like this?” he added.
In the talk, Sullivan focused on the answers he commonly receives to a question he asks at every school he visits: What would a member of a fraternity or sorority have to do to piss off the rest of the chapter?
Sullivan said answers range from “drunk driving” to moving in on another chapter member’s boyfriend or girlfriend.
One answer Sullivan said he hears a lot is public urination. A second is hazing.
“I sincerely hope you’re not putting up with that stupid shit,” he said. “But if you are, I hope you change it when you’re in (the organization).”
Sullivan said after one of his presentations he went to an Applebee’s where he met a sorority on a “penis hunt.” He said the pledges in the sorority were told that they were not allowed back into the chapter until they got pictures of 10 penises.
“I couldn’t decide which was more pathetic,” he said, “that a sorority thought this was an appropriate new member activity or that they were looking for penises in Applebee’s.”
Sullivan encouraged students to stop behavior they thought was hurtful within their organizations. He said it is easy to be a bystander and allow fellow members of organizations to do stupid things and “this is what screws us (Greek organizations) up.”
Sullivan outlined certain steps students could take to confront harmful behavior.
First, he said, it is important to determine which person within a group is the right person to confront the situation. Second, the person should find a neutral environment in which to confront someone.
“Everybody has something they gain by acting stupid,” he said.
Yarin is not new to IGC but said the program taught her “new ways of working out problems without causing bad relations.”
The whole campus was invited to the program. IGC used e-mails and posters to encourage non-IGC organizations to attend, according to Yarin.