According to the university website, roughly 27 percent of the student body is in a social Greek organization on campus, but it’s safe to argue that in recent months this presence has felt larger than the number suggests.
Upon originally receiving information pertaining to the reinstatement plan discussed in this week’s front page story, we at The Trinitonian had our doubts. Despite the fact that a number of our staff members identify as Greek, including four from our top management team, both Greeks and non-Greeks raised questions over the vague and somewhat subjective nature of the template (see Page 5). We wondered if the university’s apparent change of heart was a result of backlash from current students and alumni and were concerned that this meant the safety of students was being compromised in favor of monetary support and the administration’s popularity. We also wondered if this reevaluation meant the original sanctions were implemented as more of a scare tactic than an actual catalyst for change. Most importantly, we wondered if this shift would only lead to a recurrence in the future, thus failing to teach students an important lesson.
However, after countless interviews (try 11 pages worth), revisions, conversations among staff members and off-the-record talks with members of the sanctioned organizations, we feel the current solution is at least a starting point, noting that problems of hazing extend beyond Greek life, as well as beyond Trinity to other college campuses and organizations. Still, we agree with our peer CJ Robison, men’s co-chair of Greek Council that “there really does need to be a visual improvement or change within the organizations that reapply before we can consider taking them back on.”
There are three important factors to consider when thinking about the state of Greek life. First, that the events of last spring overshadow positive contributions made by Greeks. Second, the absence of the sanctioned organizations does not necessarily improve our community or fix the problem. Third, that this is not the first time sanctions have been placed on a Greek organization.
Beginning with the benefits of our local Greek system it’s clear that members contribute to the rest of the community. The Trinitonian, as well as the Association of Student Representatives and the Student Conduct Board are all prime examples of how members of Greek organizations (including those from the currently sanctioned groups) extend their leadership beyond their respective clubs to give back in meaningful ways.
Furthermore, as noted by Briana McGlamory, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life, the absence of the sanctioned organizations is felt. With each use of Isom Media Center during athletic events, we’re reminded of the absence of its benefactor, the men of Chi Delta Tau. Time honored traditions and events like Fall Frolics, formerly put on by the SPURS sorority, and Chili Cook-Off co-sponsored by the Bengal Lancers will be significantly impacted. Finally, the American Cancer Society would miss out on tens of thousands of dollars each year if it were not for Gamma Chi Delta’s efforts through Concert for the Cure. These efforts by no means excuse their actions, but are aspects to consider when looking at the system and the organizations as a whole.
As previously stated, this is not the first time a Greek organization has been sanctioned for unruly behavior. There are at least two active organizations on campus that were previously kicked off but have since risen up as positive examples. Admittedly, their processes for reinstatement were different, but they were successful because of student initiative.
As we see it, we are at a crossroads with two opposing paths. One is lined with a continuation of the same behaviors and practices that have yielded negative results time and time again. In short, anyone can write or re-write what they think the administration will like to read, but actions will speak louder than words. The other path is one that, if forged correctly, would truly change the culture of Greek life at our university by altering the mentality of those who haze.
In the end, the administration will not be the true catalyst for change but rather the students who embrace the idea that hazing is not productive. The state and federal laws, as well as university policy regarding hazing will not change, and students that haze will continue to face consequences. If the problem persists, organizations send the message that administrative accommodations like the reinstatement plan are being taken for granted, and they don’t share in the community’s values and need to go.