College fraternities all across the country are making headlines, from Penn State to the University of Oklahoma to Dartmouth College. Their misdemeanors are nothing short of deplorable, and the media storm swirling around them is more than warranted.
Still, the question remains: Are the repercussions strong enough?
The public seems to think so.
Members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity appeared in a viral video in the beginning of March, joining in a racist chant with references to lynching. The response was immediate: Within hours of the video leaking online, the University closed the chapter and forced members to leave the fraternity house. Later, two of the students leading the chant were expelled and have since made public apologies for their actions, according to the New York Times.
University of Oklahoma was lauded for its swift handling of the scandal. It denounced SAE and expelled the chief offenders from the University, much to the satisfaction of both the black student union on campus and the general public.
Admirable, yes. But it leaves something to be desired.
It recently came to light that the Alpha Delta fraternity at Dartmouth College, which has been suspended since March 2014 for hazing violations and alcohol-related charges, would be suspended until 2018 for branding its new members, according to ABC News. The suspension was intended to be lifted on March 29, 2015, but this new piece of information prompted the college to extend the ban for another three years.
And at Penn State, the already-suspended Kappa Delta Rho chapter landed in hot water after their “secret” websites containing photos of naked, unconscious women in seriously compromising positions were discovered, according to the New York Times. Some of the women in the photos are contemplating pressing criminal charges.
Again, these universities took action and did what could be done. But it still isn’t enough.
These are isolated instances of hazing, racism and misconduct. Universities can naturally only do so much when handling these cases. They can expel students, shut down fraternities and even press criminal charges, but they can’t get to the source of the problem. That has been proven countless times.
The Greek life culture needs to change for that to happen.
If the national organizations made it clear that this kind of behavior was inexcusable; if the members themselves enforced more stringent codes of morality; if pledges weren’t harassed and hazed just because it’s part of a long-standing tradition, maybe this wouldn’t happen.
It’s 2015. This kind of behavior can’t be tolerated anymore. The perpetrators of these sickening acts shouldn’t have to be expelled to understand that it’s wrong to belittle other human beings or to take advantage of them simply because that’s how these things have always been done.
However, not all fraternities behave like this. Some haze, but not to the extremes the media reports about. Some are strictly just having fun with the new pledges, and nothing wrong with that.
It becomes a problem when that thin line of “just having fun” and terrorizing the new brothers is crossed.
Despite the philanthropy work fraternities do participate in, it becomes difficult for many to support them when constant cases of horrifying injustices are heard. After all, extreme cases are the ones that make headlines.
Then again, not all fraternities get caught, thus raising even more questions.
It is going to take serious time for national organizations to implement changes that will truly take effect and stop extreme acts of hazing once and for all.
No matter what the answer is, one thing is abundantly clear — the Greek life culture is in desperate need of change.