Be yourself, not everyone else

Bryce McelhaneyAfter seeing the leaked video of a University of Oklahoma fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon chanting a racist song, it made me reflect on the whole dynamic of college fraternities and sororities.

It made me wonder how many people on the bus were uncomfortable with the chant or baffled by the frat’s ignorance or, better yet, how many of the students chanted along with gusto.

Perhaps the fraternity was singing the song out of tradition – as many frats and sororities are known to have.

In any case, there seems to be one thing these traditionally cultish frats and sororities carry on through generations: conformity.

Conformity can be a dangerous thing, especially for groups who thrive on it.

According to, people are like pack animals.

When individuals join certain groups, they try to appease the group’s norms or standards and when this happens, anything an individual does that’s not a part of that norm or standard becomes threatening.

“Here is why [conformity] is dangerous: because critical thinking goes out the window.

Logic goes out the window. We don’t stop and think about what we are doing because everyone else is doing it.

We forget to question whether it is right or wrong and we just follow the other sheep,” the site said.

It’s 2015, and I would like to think that we’ve experienced enough hatred, violence, discrimination and even genocide to know that racism isn’t acceptable, and conformity is a trap.

If World War II era Germany decided Jewish genocide was the right answer, they obviously weren’t allowing critical thought or logic.

Instead, they relied on their leader at the time to tell them what’s right. In no way is this a healthy way of thinking.

We’ve grown up listening to our parents preach to us the values of being an individual with our own thoughts and being independent.

Then somewhere along the line, students end up going to college with a paid network of friendship where freshman are hazed and humiliated based purely on tradition.

According to, conformity also can be an unconscious decision to fit into a crowd, meaning the students could have felt the situation was justified because it was a group decision and not their own.

“Conformity is the tendency to align your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with those around you. It’s a powerful force that can take the form of overt social pressure or subtler unconscious influence.

As much as we like to think of ourselves as individuals, the fact is that we’re driven to fit in, and that usually means going with the flow,” the site said.

If it weren’t for being in the frat, some of those students could have been outstanding patrons of social equality, but instead they found themselves on a bus chanting a racist song without thinking twice.

The point is, minds are easily influenced, and it’s essential that we base more importance on individuality and critical thought, rather than following patterns and listening to everything that we’re told.

To contact Bryce McElhaney,email

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