This past Sunday evening, Michael Ayalon, CEO of Greek University, presented a two-hour hazing prevention seminar in the Esch Hurvis studio. Attendance at the event was mandatory for all student members of Greek letter organizations, including fraternities and sororities.
Greek University is a private education management company based in Franklin, Tennessee. The company offers sorority and fraternity-related services including seminars, workshops, recruitment assistance and team building activities. According to the mission outlined on Greek University’s website, the company’s mission is to promote a sense of community and campus safety.
Campus Life Greek Advisor Spencer Morgan introduced Ayalon, but did not remain for the presentation. He expressed his hope that without a Lawrence staff member present, students would feel comfortable talking freely about their experiences with Greek life. After Spencer’s exit, the presentation, titled “Hazing: How Did We Get Here? How Do We Stop It?”, began with a group activity. Ayalon encouraged students to discuss among themselves in small groups and come up with words to describe Greek life at Lawrence. Students offered a variety of descriptors, including “fun,” “lacking,” and “unique.”
After this brief student engagement, Ayalon launched into his presentation. He began by describing at length his own personal experiences with Greek life as a member of Sigma Pi at the University of Buffalo. Ayalon’s personal experiences and motivations to join a fraternity fell flat with his audience, encouraging several interventions from members of the audience. About halfway through the presentation, students began walking out, disappointed by many aspects of the presentation.
Former Sigma Phi Epsilon President, senior Savvas Sfairopoulos, was among the students who dissented with Ayalon’s presentation. Sfairopoulos expressed his opinion on the seminar: “Contrary to Mr. Ayalon’s beliefs, we, the members of Greek Life at Lawrence University, do not oppose hazing practices — and other forms of harassment — because ‘our founding fathers said so.’ Overall, Mr. Ayalon seemed to be absolutely uninformed about the culture of our institution and our organizations, and his seminar was devoid of thoughtful research and basic human decency.”
Kappa Alpha Theta President junior Maddie Whitehead also expressed her disappointment with the presentation. “Because the Lawrence administration hired this man and felt so strongly about making the workshop mandatory for all Greek Life members, I felt comfortable conveying to my chapter that they were required to go to this potentially beneficial presentation meant to address an important topic. I was extremely disappointed in the quality and content of this presentation, and felt sorry for subjecting my members to two hours of Ayalon’s boastful statements and insensitive comments.”
Near the end of the presentation, Ayalon summed up his presentation and asked for feedback or questions from the group. While several students expressed their gratitude for Ayalon’s presentation, the several dozen recently emptied seats spoke volumes to the contrary.
Risk Manager for Delta Tau Delta fifth-year Sean Gies summed up his thoughts about the presentation. “Mr. Ayalon seemed very ignorant of what our campus climate and Greek Life entails, and because of that, his view of what hazing might look like at Lawrence was inaccurate. It seemed as though he was attacking a non-existent problem, and coming at it from the wrong direction, while being narcisstic, elitist and casually misogynistic.”
After the presentation, Spencer Morgan reached out to the leaders of Greek organizations to apologize if the experience had not lived up to what it was marketed or communicated to be. Further action regarding the presentation has yet to be communicated to the student body.