Leadership means respecting others, not humiliating them

Concepts of good leadership certainly are not limited to business, politics, religion or sports. Virtually every facet of life depends on somebody taking the onus of pulling others forward. One of the staples of education at Cal State Long Beach is educating future leaders.

A large segment of our new classmates will have some leadership experience, whether from high school, community college or within their diverse communities. Greater numbers of those will be less ready to step into leadership roles, and will therefore be more susceptible to trusting and following people they don’t really know.

Before current student groups begin inviting and recruiting new students to join the wide variety of offerings at CSULB, the leaders of each group should take inventory of what they want their new members to take with them into the future. No matter what the nature or philosophy of the campus organization, fraternity or sorority, responsibility and respect should be priorities.

Responsibility should last long after delivering the sales pitch. Respect should extend beyond the “Back to the Beach” recruiting tables.

When leaders ignore an individual’s dignity, they not only lessen the integrity of their organization’s mission, they also leave a bad taste on the palate that can’t be easily rinsed away with mere apology.

The results of some decisions can take on a life of their own. Some have the capability of affecting far more people than the ones who pledge their allegiances. They can impact families, friends and entire communities.

One need only browse the Internet these days and read about some hazing or binge-drinking episode gone bad. One such painful tragedy unfolded at Ryder University in New Jersey in March, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.

Gary DeVercelly Jr., an 18-year-old graduate of Wilson High School in Long Beach, died of alcohol poisoning following a suspected fraternity hazing ritual. According to various national news reports, the university’s director of Greek life and the pledge master of the fraternity now face criminal charges. The fraternity has since been closed as a result of the promising student’s death. The popular young man’s passing has undoubtedly left emptiness among his family and friends that may never be filled. The tragedy reaches deep within our campus community, where DeVercelly’s girlfriend and many high school friends are students.

However the criminal proceedings in New Jersey turn out those involved (whether directly or indirectly), will forever be remembered for binge drinking rather than binge leadership.

CSULB’s student life opportunities are nearly limitless. Unfortunately, even organizations with the best reputations are not immune to faulty leadership. For example, some leaders will ignore the fact that hazing not only is against CSULB policy, but is illegal in California. Hazing is widely accepted as an act of violence and carries consequences.

John F. Kennedy wrote in a speech he was supposed to deliver in Dallas the day he was assassinated, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of belonging to something larger than the individual. It’s important that leaders not forget to honor their roles by sacrificing the dignity of the individual they ask to join.

Daily Forty-Niner Cal State-Long Beach U-Wire