If you’ve seen any news lately, you’ve probably been barraged with stories of atrocities committed by fraternities. Hazing, offensive songs, and horrendous Facebook posts are just a few of the recent headlines. Why are so many officials tolerating these things to happen until they become so extreme? And more importantly, why are the punishments for these wrongdoers so minor?
This recent news flurry started with a viral video featuring Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing a racist song on a bus. Thankfully, the University of Oklahoma’s administration acted quickly, expelling two students and shutting down the SAE chapter. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first infraction by a SAE chapter. A forthcoming CNN documentary called The Hunting Ground (premiering March 20) discusses sexual assault on college campuses. Filmmaker Amy Ziering asked female college students, “are there any nicknames for any of the fraternities on your campus? And time and again they would say, “‘sexual assault expected’ is the nickname for SAE.”
Sadly, sexual assault and fraternities are all too often linked. Another recent story comes from Penn State University, concerning Kappa Delta Rho. The frat maintained a private Facebook page full of photographs depicting drugs, hazing activities, and incapacitated or sleeping women, many of whom didn’t know they were being photographed. According to police, these men could face misdemeanor charges of harassment or invasion of privacy, with a fine being the most likely penalty. State College Police Lt. Keith Robb stated that “No arrests are being made at this time… [because] unfortunately, we aren’t able to identify any suspects right now because the accounts on Facebook were sanitized, wiped clean.” In the meantime, the chapter has been suspended for one year. These images clearly imply that serious crimes like rape and illegal drug possession have taken place, however officials are more concerned about who took the pictures.
Hazing has also been a hot topic recently. In November, a 19-year-old student at West Virginia University was found dead after being forced to binge drink during an initiation ceremony. Just this week, another student was found dead in a frat house at the University of South Carolina. Unfortunately these are only the most recent fraternity-related deaths, and while they should serve as a wake-up call to universities where Greek life is prevalent, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
These stories are only the most recent in a long history of wrongdoings by frat brothers in America. It’s unclear why these atrocities seem to be condoned, even encouraged within chapters, but something has got to change. Many will defend these fraternities on the basis of tradition and their commitment to service, but when will enough be enough? Hazing, rape and racism are serious topics, and should not be dismissed by university and law officials simply to uphold a reputation.