B-CU'S 2012 Legacy Forum Addresses HazingWhen students, faculty and administration arrived at the spring Legacy Forum in the B-CU Performing Arts Center this week, President Trudie Kibbe Reed greeted the crowd from the podium with a strong message regarding hazing on campus.
"We have learned that along with hazing comes cover up, shame and a code of silence among students," she said. "But not at the Great Bethune-Cookman University."
Following her message, several students took the stage to declare their personal stance against hazing. Dr. Dwaun Warmack, vice president for student affairs, followed to remind the campus family that there is a zero tolerance hazing policy at the university. All individuals involved in hazing incidents, he said, will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
"We will not tolerate it," he said. "Not at Bethune-Cookman."
The keynote speaker at the campuswide assembly was the Rev. Dr. Clanton "C.W." Dawson, a B-CU assistant professor of philosophy and the pastor of the historic Mt. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, which is Daytona Beach's oldest historically black church.
Dawson, who is known for his "straight-talk" approach to engaging students both in and out of the classroom, began his speech with a focus on love.
"There is something about love that makes us better when we have it and worse when we don't," he said. "I suggest that hazing is one dimension of an absolute lack of love."
Most importantly, Dawson emphasized that students must first love themselves. He suggested that if students value their own lives, they will not allow anyone to mistreat them and, in turn, would not find pleasure in mistreating others.
"There is no organization that I will let denigrate me, put me down, hurt me or humiliate me, to be with them," he said to a round of applause. "If that's what it takes [to be accepted], I'll be by myself.
"And, if I love me, I'm not going to hurt you. I don't need to hurt you to make myself look better; it won't make my light shine any brighter." Dawson, who said that he and his wife Maria raised a total of ten children in his loving home, concluded with the thought that the discussion of love is not only important in addressing the issue of hazing but also in developing mutual respect across the campus and throughout the student body.
Reminding the audience that the bible says,' Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' he said, "Love will make you do right when you want to do wrong." His speech was followed by a standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the event, the entire audience stood and recited a hazing covenant:
"I Covenant, as a member of the Great Bethune-Cookman University family to accept a new attitude about Hazing and I say today:
Suffering does not make me worthy. Allowing others to embarrass me does not make me worthy. Accepting ridicule, cruel treatment, physical harm against myself or looking away while it happens to others, does not make me worthy. I am worthy because God says I am worthy.
I make this Covenant between God and myself and between myself and every parent, and every sibling, every teacher and friend and every community of each freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior who attends Bethune-Cookman University today and in the future. I say that I will never accept or allow the price to belong to any organization, group, or team, to hold any title or position, to create either friendship or bond, to be the hurt, harm, danger, embarrassment, ridicule or scorn of myself or any other Bethune-Cookman University student.
Regardless of history or tradition or expectation, I Covenant today in front of God and every student and all faculty and staff to not participate in any form of hazing. I also vow to never be a part of a conspiracy of silence by withholding knowledge about hazing.
I say to the human being to my left; the human being to the right; to my brother or sister in front of me as well as my brother or sister behind me, I am my brother's keeper and I am my sister's keeper and, as 1st Corinthians 13:5 says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I make this Covenant today, Wednesday, January 18, 2012."
In order for the administration to learn more about student experiences with hazing, students have been asked to participate in a survey about their knowledge of hazing on campus and will be provided the phone number for an anonymous tip line they may use to submit information they do not wish to share publicly.
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About Bethune Cookman University:
Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000. For more information, visit www.cookman.edu.