The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Over the summer, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Nu and Kappa Sigma fraternities joined the ranks of six other Greek organizations who are unrecognized by Miami University. The reason for at least two of those: violating the Miami University Code of Student Conduct for hazing.
The Miami University Code of Student Conduct — 2.1.I says: “Coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into, or as a condition of participation in, a student organization, fraternity or sorority, or activity that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing physical or mental harm to any person is prohibited.”
According to Miami these violations could include, but are not limited to, “forced drinking of alcohol or water, paddling, creation of fatigue, physical shocks, degrading or humiliating games, physical harassment, branding, public stunts and forced tattoos.”
Quite the example to be setting, as an institution known as the Mother of Fraternities (how many of those Alpha chapters are still recognized?).
In response to the fraternities’ degradation, Interfraternity Council president and senior Zach Scheid said, “We are going to learn from past mistakes and solidify who we are as fraternities on this campus.”
We know it isn’t just fraternities that haze. Marching bands, choirs and a host of other clubs also participate in the brutish initiations. Yet, the history and pervasiveness of hazing in Greek life warrants its more acute examination and critique. What is it about fraternities, specifically, that demands such violent and testosterone-pumped hazing?
This pattern is certainly not new. What about the countless other past mistakes? Beta Theta Pi wasn’t enough of a warning?
Following Beta’s banishment in spring 2014, an onslaught of rumors arose around campus as students attempted to work out what happened. Some, like the story about Beta locking their pledges in a basement with a live alligator, were absurd. Others, like the rumor that the fraternity brothers who beat two pledges after they second-guessed their wishes to rush, more serious.
Other rumors in past years have included making pledges kneel or do pushups on broken glass, chain-smoke packs of cigarettes until they vomit, eat a chewing tobacco sandwich, kill a puppy and waterboarding them with vodka.
The only thing that has prevented the same guessing game this time around is the fact that these fraternities were kicked off over the summer — free from the prying eyes of students, faculty and (cough) donors (cough, cough).
Whatever the acts entailed, these fraternity members were not having a slumber party or backyard barbeque. Whatever they did was severe enough to warrant virtual removal from this campus and disassociation from their national affiliates.
And more than an unsatisfied curiosity or an eagerness to partake in the buzz that circulates with an event such as this, the fact that we, as students of this university, are all left in the dark about the events that led these organizations to lose recognition is a problem.
Following the Wells Hall incident last year, where two freshmen males graffitied a bulletin board with racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic smut, President Hodge condemned the immature and incensing actions in an all-university email.
“I am deeply disappointed that any of our students would choose deliberately to behave in such a reprehensible way,” Hodge said.
We respect Hodge’s reaction to that incident, but where was the email condemning the fraternity hazing of last spring?
Both of these issues represent a serious problem with the overriding culture on campus — a culture that dominates and is controlled by the very student organizations that are no longer recognized by the university.
If past experience can tell us anything, it’s that these fraternities are not going to learn from their mistakes. Hazing is as ingrained in the Greek system as beer bongs and “late-nighters.” The only way to learn anything from this event is to inform students about the nature of the acts and the punishment that ensured. Transparency from our university, its administration and its most pervasive organizations is absolutely necessary.
The Miami Student is currently pursuing a public records request regarding the specifics of each organization’s violations. More information to come.