Greek Life: A Chess Game of Blame


Hazing, alcohol abuse,and sexual assault are just a few of the many incidents that fraternity organizations are being punished for publicly. It seems like there is new report in the news about another death related to Greek life every couple weeks. This is a very serious trend that needs to be addressed immediately and efficiently.

Most colleges across the country have some type of council or committee that oversees and regulates Greek life events. For example, at the University of Virginia, Fraternity and Sorority Life has many different councils such as Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council that decide on regulations for fraternity and sororities on campus. These councils are common on most campuses having to interact with Greek life. FSL had made public their history of disciplinary actions following policy violations on their website

Many examples can be found of how certain chapters violated certain policies and what kinds of punishments they received. It seems strange to see the same fraternity chapter violate the policy over and over again yet still receive minimal consequences. Fraternities nationwide continue to violate regulations one after another without much punishment.

Take a look at SAE’s recent incident concerning racism within the fraternity. Even though this instance went viral and caused a lot of heads to turn, it is not the first time SAE has faced allegations of violations in the past. In a New York Times article, John Herskovitz writes, “The fraternity, one of the largest in the United States, has been in trouble at several campuses nationwide. Its houses and chapters have been linked to at least six deaths in the past eight years from excessive drinking or hazing violence. SAE has denied any wrongdoing” (Herskovitz). This begs the question to many of how many times does it take a fraternity to break the rules and actually be disciplined adequately?

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Universities are starting to feel the pressure to increase their involvement in Greek life  regulations and increase disciplinary actions for offenders. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, published on April 8, 2015, thirty fraternities have been shut down in the past month alone. This has come in part from the crack down college campuses have ensue following recent incidents.


Douglas Fierberg, an attorney with a great deal of experience with lawsuits involving fraternities, discussed in an interview with Huffington Post the problem with fraternity regulations. Fierberg explained, “They insist on self-management … which has proved to be dangerous and fundamentally flawed. … They should have to prove that they are in fact safe, not the other way around. There should be no assumption they are safe.” Here, Fierberg proposes a possible solution to decrease fraternity related incidents.

Maybe the center of the problem is in fact how fraternities are managed within the organization, not from the outside. Councils that try to regulate the behaviors of Greek life can only do so much on the outside. They can suspend a chapter, expel students, fine organizations but they can only punish, not prevent. The way to effectively control and regulate the members of a fraternity and their actions may be to change the leadership and management within the fraternity itself.


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