Tracy Maxwell

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.

Watch Tracy’s interview on CBS This Morning

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.

Learning Outcomes

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.

Learning Outcomes

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

Owning Our Power

As fraternity men and sorority women, we wear a lot of labels. Some are facts, others are given to us by society, and even more are self-constructed. When we are constantly subjected to negative stereotypes by the media and movies, does that change the perceptions we have of ourselves? When we always feel on the defensive, does it limit our potential?

Fraternities and sororities have always been a visible presence on college campuses, but what does it mean to really own our power? Power sometimes gets a stigma when it is equated with greed, social climbing, or even taking advantage of others, but what about the positive power of being part of something bigger than ourselves? Our organizations have membership requirements, mission statements, values, and rituals that provide strong guidance for our actions on campus and in the larger world. How can we tap into those, as well as our connections with each other, to use our power for good?

Beyond your identity as a fraternity or sorority leader, knowing who you are as an individual is a key to having healthy relationships with those around you. This program explores issues around identity and digs into how your personal story impacts the relationships you build and the power you own. It can be tricky to explore the intersection of our personal and organizational values and identity, but by recognizing the gaps and areas for growth we can become better members, stronger chapters, and more powerful leaders.

In this thoughtful and empowering keynote, Tracy Maxwell helps leaders realize that focusing on what is wrong doesn’t help us be our most powerful selves personally or organizationally. But focusing on what we do best expands our positive presence in the world and insures that we will continue to be relevant for years to come.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of this program, students will learn:

  • who they are as individuals and leaders,
  • how much of their identity is borrowed from the collective consciousness and simply made up,
  • how to focus their efforts on what they do well, and
  • how to create personal identities that empower them to make positive changes.

“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’s Bio

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.


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