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To criticize one’s country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment. It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences a belief that the country can do better than it is doing... In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith. —Senator J. William Fulbright Organizational longevity is not a given. Some organizations have existed for centuries and seemingly, are on a trajectory into perpetuity. Other organizations exist for a time and then peter-out (Sutton, 1983). Collegiate literary societies were once towering organizations on the university landscape. Their failure to adapt to the changes going on around them—on college campuses—lead to their ultimate demise (Armfield et al., 2011). Secret societies used to be dominant American institutions, at least up until the middle of the 20th Century (Tabbert, 2006). These findings should be no surprise. As Robert Putnam (2006) stated in his path-breaking book, “Bowling Alone,” “Americans are right that the bonds of our communities have withered, and we are right to fear that this transformation has very real costs” (p. 427). To intimate such a future, to ring such an alarm about National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations is tantamount to heresy. Leaders and members of NPHC organizations have a deep and abiding emotional commitment to their respective groups (Parks et al., 2013). Such commitment is generally a positive thing. However, such affective commitment may lead many NPHC leaders and members to cast a subjective eye on the challenges these groups face. It is not uncommon for emotionally-charged concepts to have motivational and even deceptive influences on an individual’s thinking (Taylor & Hardin, 1991; Balcetis, 2008). A person who, for example, desires to see his or her organization cast in the most positive light may minimize or even ignore organizational blemishes. They may reject data, facts and information that force them to take a cold, hard look at the organization they love (Newman, 1999). Indeed, in the face of potentially negative information, organization leaders and members may simply put their head in the sand in an effort to ignore inconvenient truths (Karlsson et al., 2009). But time is not on the side of NPHC organizations. In the past 10 years, there has been an explosion of research on NPHC organizations (Parks & Bradley, 2011; Fine, 2003; Hughey & Parks, 2011; Jones, 2004; Kimbrough, 2003; Parks, 2008; Whaley, 2010). In just the past couple of years, that research has turned to understanding the nature and scope of challenges NPHC organizations face; this is especially so vis-à-vis membership. One line of empirical research highlights the persistent issues NPHC organizations have with hazing. These studies find the following: Prospective NPHC organization members may be aware of the hazing risks they face once they begin the unsanctioned, underground pledge process, but that does not necessarily mean they consent given the range of psychological

Perspectives

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Summer 2014

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Profile for Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors

Perspectives Summer 2014  

Perspectives Summer 2014  

Profile for afa1976