'Midnight within the Moral Order': Organizational Culture, Unethical Leaders, and Members' Deviance
Thurgood Marshall Law Review, 2014
82 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2013 Last revised: 1 Aug 2017
Date Written: October 26, 2013
Hazing has been a persistent issue within African American fraternities and sororities. What makes the topic interesting vis-à-vis the law is that American society has become increasingly litigious; as such, these organizations and their members have faced a growth in the number of hazing-related civil lawsuits since the 1980s. Even more, individual members have had to confront the increasing criminalization of hazing. Outside of the law, but equally important to the understanding of hazing’s legal implications with respect to these organizations are two factors: One is that hazing is particularly violent within African American fraternities and sororities, especially the former, thus serving as an impetus for litigation. The other is the nature and structure of these organizations - highly active and engaged alumni membership. That being said, it is not unusual to observe a vast majority of these organizations’ active (dues-paying, officers, convention attendees) members being alumni, even well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. This article explores an aspect of African American fraternity and sorority culture that may help explain the nature of hazing within these organizations and why it persists, especially among undergraduate members. Specifically, the article contends that (1) intra-organizational secrecy, (2) poor checks and balances with respect to powerful members, and sanctioning of whistleblowers explain why unethical, and even illegal, behavior may persist within these organizations. This article largely explores how these factors are most evident in instances where the national heads of a number of these organizations engaged in financial malfeasance and either were not held accountable or were slow to being held accountable. Accordingly, as the article argues, if this is a problem amongst accomplished, older members it should not be surprising that such factors manifest themselves amongst teenagers and young-adults.
Keywords: race, organizations, organizational culture, crime
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