Tracy Maxwell believes one of the best things we can do about hazing is to talk about the problem openly and honestly. She realizes there is confusion about the definitions, laws and policies and the consequences of hazing.
Her goal is to help students understand both their legal liability and moral responsibility, but most of all, to empower them to do something about hazing in their communities. Tracy has worked with students enough to know that hazing is a controversial subject, often ignored until something tragic happens. Hazing is also often spotlighted by a media culture looking for a quick fix and someone to blame. Tracy believes some students have been a scapegoat for a problem that dates back centuries.
Today’s students didn’t invent this problem, but they do have the power to end it. The hazing issue is a societal one, perpetuated by a culture of disrespect and disconnection. While we hear most often about the physical impacts of hazing, the psychological ones are hidden, and can be longer lasting. Some victims report impacts years and even decades later.
Hazing will never be solved without the engagement of students in prevention. All the speakers, videos and educational programs are for nothing if real conversations aren’t taking place within organizations and on campuses. Hazing is not an incident that takes place, but a culture that is created and allowed to continue. It thrives in secrecy, and will only change when brought into the light of day.
A Conversation About Hazing
Tracy Maxwell’s hazing prevention keynote goes deeper on the critical issues surrounding hazing. It’s not a program full of blame and simple solutions. It’s a keynote that acknowledges the clear harm and ethical “wrongness” of hazing while acknowledging the complex perspectives that come into play. Tracy tells real stories of hazing, its harms and the impact on both hazers and their victims. But then, she goes further. She frames the issue from a variety of perspectives and motivates everyone on today’s campus to come together to move their community forward. Most importantly, she urges students and staff to take an active role and avoid being bystanders on this vital campus issue.
The need to belong is so strong that students will do almost anything in order to be part of a group with status. Some brain scan studies suggest that our brains react to peer exclusion as much as they respond to threats to our physical health or food supply. At a neural level, we perceive social rejection as a threat to our existence. So then why do so many conversations about hazing prevention begin with the question, “Why do students allow themselves to be hazed?” And what of the students hazing? They mistreat others in the name of tradition, or simply because it seems like the right way to initiate new members.
Tracy doesn’t believe perpetrators are necessarily evil but they do need to understand that the consequences for hazing are now much greater than they used to be. Students, even at the high school level, are being charged with felonies in some cases and/or their families are being hit with multimillion-dollar civil suits. “Not knowing any better” is no longer a good enough excuse. What about the media? How do parents and public opinion figure in? Forty-four states have passed laws banning hazing and the stakes grow bigger every year. And then the conversation goes even deeper. Tracy talks about values—both individual and organizational—and asks how hazing reflects those most closely held beliefs.
Whether students are hazing in fraternities and sororities, college bands, athletic teams and club sports or other student organizations, their groups are typically founded on values such as honor, friendship, leadership, and service. With a constructive conversation about the realities of hazing, they can almost always come to understand how hazing becomes the complete antithesis of all we proclaim ourselves to be. Tracy hits on angles as complex as “hidden harm” (the potential psychological repercussions), gender norms, the role of shame and raising media awareness. Tracy offers a true “expert’s view” of a complex campus issue—urging positive change while framing hazing prevention as a complicated effort requiring multiple approaches and intense collaboration.
As a result of this program, students will learn:
- how to recognize hazing in a variety of forms,
- how to begin a conversation about hazing in a non-threatening way,
- what harmful and serious effects hazing can have on individuals, and
- what they can do to help stop hazing practices.
Note from the speaker: Every campus is in a different place with regard to hazing prevention. For that reason, I will work with any campus that invites me to craft a message that is relevant to your campus realities. Students and staff, multiple departments—wherever you are, that’s where we’ll start.
#LML: How Our View of the World Changes Everything
Our view of the world and perception of the events in our lives distinguishes our experiences from those of everyone around us. Our perception is completely unique to us, and ultimately, this view determines our happiness, peace of mind, success, and the quality of our relationships. It’s amazing how a simple shift of the mind can recreate all of the outcomes in any situation.
In Tracy’s keynote, #LML: How Our View of the World Changes Everything, she helps redirect the way students and professionals focus their perceptions. This thought-provoking program will give students steps to learn to love their lives with greater passion and contentment, which opens them up to less stress, better relationships, more meaningful work and a profound sense of purpose. Tracy stresses the importance of “asset-based thinking,” which means focusing on what you have, instead of what you are lacking. This enables us to look toward what is possible rather than the roadblocks or disappointments in any situation.
Airplane passengers are instructed to put their own oxygen masks on before assisting others, and leaders should do the same. Too often we allow our service to become a chore, we put the needs of others or the organization ahead of ourselves, and we burnout and breakdown, which serves no one. Leaders serve best from a place of strong self-care and personal well-being.
If you’re looking for a keynote to redirect thinking and get students excited about the endless possibilities for the course of their lives, this is the program for you! This keynote was created with the intention of targeting a more advanced group of student leaders, so consider it for leaders in their junior or senior years.
As a result of this program, students will learn:
- how some of the biggest impacts on personal well-being and happiness,
- how to shift their thinking from deficit to asset-based – a huge trend in the business world, and
- six powerful actions to take in leadership and in life.
Note from the speaker: We see things not as they are, but as we are. –Anonymous
How Women & Feminine Leadership Styles Will End Hazing
“The world will be saved by the western woman.” – The Dalai Lama, 2009
Recent research has proven the truth of the Dalai Lama’s statement and reinforced what many campus professionals have believed for decades. Namely, that women and feminine leadership styles are capable of fostering tremendous progress on some of our most intractable problems, including hazing.
Women at the local level can change the face of a community by standing up for their values, refusing to participate in events or activities that are mean-spirited, dangerous or demeaning to women (and men), and by exercising their leadership. When women exercise their unique leadership approach, utilizing long-term and global perspectives, nurturing, empathy, conversational turn taking, credit distribution, inquiry and networked thinking, lasting change is possible, even probable.
Early anti-hazing activists were mostly men, and their approach often utilized masculine-style scare tactics, highlighting legal ramifications and focusing on risk management. As more women have entered the fray, the focus has shifted to prevention, employing a mostly transformational approach including promoting strongly collaborative processes, focus on moral development, emphasis on human dignity and fostering organizational culture change as effective strategies.
In this keynote, Tracy highlights the feminine (or transformational) forms of leadership that will empower women to do what they are already good at, and encourage them to take action on a local level that will help make a difference in their communities and beyond.
As a result of this program, students will learn:
- the difference between transactional and transformational leadership styles,
- how to take new approaches to old problems and gain tools and skills for taking action, and
- how to feel more empowered to do what they are already naturally good at.
“Tracy has likely given hundreds of presentations in her career in higher education. Luckily, I was able to hear her story early into my tenure as a consultant and it was inspiring, educational, and transformational. Her authenticity created an atmosphere that was particularly engaging, which ultimately helped inform the work that I would do for the next two years.”
– Kyle Hickman, Phi Kappa Psi
“Tracy Maxwell is one of the most inspirational people I have met in nearly 20 years of working in higher education. As a speaker, she connects on a very personal level and inspires students and professionals to act on their beliefs and create change. As the founder and Executive Director of HazingPrevention.Org, Tracy has been a positive source of change on a national level. Now that she’s speaking on campuses, even more people will get to hear her message that one person can create real, lasting, and meaningful change. Tracy is a living example of this belief and the perfect person to deliver this message.”
– Adam Goldstein, Florida State University
“Tracy has a keen knack for presenting a topic that needs a delicate approach with charm and good humor that is unique to her personality. The fraternity men from my organization walked away from Tracy’s presentation with a better understanding of the topic and a sense of empowerment to challenge the process along the way.”
– Brian Tenclinger, Executive Director of Triangle Fraternity
“I have had numerous opportunities to hear Tracy share her story, and each time is just as impactful as the last. She conveys the harm associated with hazing in a way that helps the audience feel like they too have had personal interactions with the victims. Tracy helps individuals and communities find their voice in hazing prevention.”
– Keith Ellis, University of South Carolina
Tracy has worked in and around higher education for more than 20 years, serving in a variety of positions for the NIC and NPC, her own national organization, two campuses, as both a staff member and speaker for CAMPUSPEAK, and as the founder and six-year Executive Director of HazingPrevention.Org. Tracy has been a faculty member and developed curriculum for a number of national conferences and institutes, and has presented to a variety of audiences across the country about service, leadership, hazing, and owning our power. She has a BA in Journalism and an MS in Organizational Communication, and has served in various volunteer leadership roles for Alpha Omicron Pi, the Association of Fraternity Advisors and The Order of Omega as well as a number of cancer-related organizations locally and nationally. She has been recognized for her work four times by the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, most recently with the Distinguished Service Award. In 2013 she was recognized by AFLV, Triangle Fraternity, the Denver Alumnae Panhellenic, and as an AOII Founder’s Award recipient for her work with hazing prevention. Tracy is a sought-after media expert on hazing, appearing on ESPN, CBS This Morning, The Katie Couric Show, and in the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and ABC News online. As a three-time cancer survivor, she also serves as a healing coach and survivorship guide, and her book, Being Single, With Cancer, was published in 2014.