Understanding fraternities and condemning death

Tradition. One of the most vital foundations of a fraternal organization. A concept that has persevered as a measure of consistency among fraternities, bearing the idea of making an impression, a unique brand that will better increase marketability among prospect student-recruits and impose supremacy over competing brotherhoods. It is a respected piece of the organization’s identity and considered as an intangible gift from alumni to resident members. A set of core values and events aimed to further expand the fame, glory and dignity of the group. Suffice to say, traditions are the heart and soul of an organization.

And in the most recent debacle faced by the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity due to the death of neophyte Cris Mendez, it makes me think that both the deceased and the suspects were victims of ill-advised traditonal standards. I am not doubting the integrity of the said fraternity because they have been one of the most pretigious fraternities by far in the country with a staggering 69 years of existence, but the lack of guidance for a routine initiation clearly is not to be tolerated.

I was once head of my fraternity in UPLB and had my fair share of getting my hands dirty with physical violence. I would not deny that I have enjoyed each and every initiation I have been to, not just because of the physical damage I am permitted to inflict upon the neophyte, but the appreciation of the time when I was in his shoes before, and the anticipation of someone who is going to get through it as I did.

OK, the point really is simple. We recruit people that we know would endure the tests we are about to give them and have a feel of what the neophyte has left in the tank. That is the main purpose of a recruitment officer (in our case, Guardian of the Squires) and the Master Initiator. They have to monitor that the important points are discussed during the process, and enforce limitations when unruly ‘Brods’ are starting to be unreasonable. That’s why we have a set of officers to control the whole organization.

Having said that, in the case of UP Sigma Rho, it is very difficult to pinpoint a single person for the tragedy. Ariel Paolo Ante, Chairman of the student council of the National College of Public Administration and a known member of the said fraternity, whose face have been shown on television many times shouldn’t be singled out. I come to his defense because he is my friend and I condemn the way the media is making out the story. One life has already been destroyed by this incident, I hope the media won’t be so keen on destroying one more person just to sell news.

Hazing is a fraternal tradition. Challengers would be hard-pressed to take it away. It is really just a conscious effort by the whole group, residents and alumni alike, to accept responsibility because traditions are not made overnight. Brotherhoods look out for each and every member. That is what should be reiterated. Death should not be an eye-opener, because we should always have our eyes open anyway when we engage in this type of activities. Because we have a commitment and a responsibility, both to the neophyte and to the entire fraternity.

I, with my family, condemn the death of UP colleague Chris Mendez by the hands of his fellow students. I am ashamed somehow because I am also a fratman, and I belong to a wider circle of individuals representing brotherhoods which unfortunately includes people who end other people’s lives. My sincerest condolences to his family.

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