Fraternities, sororities & Greek life: The muddiness of regulation

Posted on 05-04-2015 by
Tags: new rules , Latest Headlines & Stories , trending news

For many instances in life rules are enforced with a “3 strikes” rule; you get three chances (depending on severity of mistake) then you’re out. However some organizations such as fraternities and sororities don’t seem play by this rule. Instead, many seem to stand on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs, sweeping any incident under the rug until.

If you have been engaged in the news recently you have a stockpile of headlines putting fraternities and sororities in the public spotlight for acts such as racist and sexist speech, sexual impropriety, destruction of property, hazing, illegal drugs etc. By now, that “rug” is too big to hide all these incidents and has led many to feel that these Greek organizations are out of control. But, this recent string of incidents has led many to ask two questions:

  • Why don’t colleges, or the national associations the fraternities represent, hold frats more accountable?
  • Can they, or should they, do more? How?

In an article by The Chronicle of Higher Education, it is explained that some, such as Mark Koepsell, executive director of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, believe fraternities and sororities are already subject to lots of rules, many of them self-imposed.

“The bar is absolutely higher for Greek organizations,” Koepsell said.

The article sheds light on the fact many universities avoid making the tough decisions such as deciding to punish these organizations. According to Gentry R. McCreary, associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator at the University of West Florida, this lack of action is partly due to financial reasons pertaining to alumni.

"There’s generally been a fear of responding in a strong way," McCreary said. "If you’re upsetting alumni, you’re upsetting potential donors."

Another problem colleges are faced with regard the policy decisions made by the schools themselves. Some colleges may allow Greek members to live on campus property , sometimes in houses owned by the chapter and will have little or no supervision compared to the kind provided to the students in traditional dormitories.

According to Douglas E. Fierberg, a lawyer who has handled numerous lawsuits against Greek organizations, this kind of setup can cause problems. For example, since the houses are privately owned, campus police officers may be able to enter in only two situations:

  1.  If they’re invited in
  2. In an emergency

Personally, I was never part of a fraternity, but I feel that protecting Greek life by saying “In some ways, at least, fraternities and sororities are already subject to lots of rules, many of them self-imposed,” is a cop-out. While they may or may not be subject to many rules, the fact that many of them are self-imposed leaves room for error; leaves room for them to fail to impose discipline on themselves. It could lead some to ask ‘Do I feel like disciplining myself?’ and chances are (more times than not) the answer will probably be ‘no’.

When it comes to answering the second question, I think it isn’t as much “should they do more?” than it is they should be doing what they have failed to do in the past. Instead of avoiding making the tough disciplinary decisions, stand up and discipline if needed. If you want to make men and women out of the boys and girls that enter these organizations, then discipline plays a role. We don’t learn social morals without learning and that usually doesn’t come without some sort of discipline when we make mistakes. We complain about all the problems in society, yet we are unwilling to put any monetary influences aside and put morals first.  

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