By Emily Tate, Managing Editor and Reis Thebault, Editor-in-Chief
Greek recruitment has gotten off to a troubling start this semester, as the university and the Greek governing councils linked a spike in arrests and hospitalizations earlier this week with the concurrent fraternity “rush.”
The hospitalizations — which the president of Miami’s Panhellenic Association estimated to be more than 20 from Sunday and Monday nights alone — have prompted a conversation about the current state of Miami’s Greek life, which has seen three chapters suspended in the last year.
In an email to all sorority presidents, Panhellenic president Elizabeth Nelsen encouraged members of the organizations to “stop to think why we are Greek.”
She said that recent incidents are indicative of a larger problem in Miami’s Greek community.
“Our community is currently battling an extremely severe situation that has unfortunately also become our norm,” wrote Nelsen, a junior. “Nothing about this situation is normal.”
In that email, she said the Blood Alcohol Contents of three students were recorded between .245 and .3 — levels considered to be just drinks away from “life threatening,” according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Nelsen wrote that, during the first two days of fraternity recruitment, 23 people were taken to the hospital. Though she later said that number was rumored, both Miami and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) acknowledged that several arrests and hospitalizations stemmed from fraternity recruitment.
Between Saturday and Monday, the Oxford Police Department reported at least five arrests for liquor violations, one of which led to a hospitalization. All five were Miami University students — four of which were male, including one first-year, a sophomore and two juniors, and one junior female.
Between Monday and the early morning hours of Wednesday, the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) responded to at least 12 cases of alcohol violations on campus, spanning from High Street to Western Campus.
Of the 12 incidents, eight involved males and four involved females — though no more is revealed about them from MUPD’s police reports — and at least five of the cases resulted in hospitalizations.
Together, these amount to 17 alcohol-related incidents reported to Miami and Oxford police. However, these reports may not account for all hospitalizations this week. Some students may have been transported directly to the hospital for care, especially in cases that did not involve alcohol — cases of physical violence, for example.
In a release, IFC president and junior Jack Kellenberger said that, once he became aware that reports cited fraternity involvement, IFC “acted immediately and placed reported chapters on interim suspension pending investigation.”
Kellenberger said that IFC would have an “increased presence throughout recruitment,” emphasizing more late night house checks and event checks.
Jayne Brownell, Miami’s vice president for student affairs, called the high-risk drinking reported in the last few days “really concerning,” regardless of whether it is stemming from fraternity recruitment.
Brownell urged students to be aware of what they’re drinking and how much of it they’ve had, but also to look out for each other during the high-pressure weeks surrounding Greek recruitment. And, she warned, the freezing temperatures only heighten the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
Despite the incidents surrounding fraternity recruitment, it will continue as scheduled, Brownell said, but with “closer oversight.” Recruitment is scheduled to last through tomorrow, two days after the kick off of formal sorority recruitment.
All Greek chapter presidents have agreed to a “dry period” for the remainder of fraternity and sorority recruitment, during which time all Panhellenic and IFC organizations — whether they are recognized by the university or not — should refrain from hosting or attending social events.
Dean of Students Mike Curme said the university is investigating the incidents, then, if necessary, will pursue disciplinary action.
“Our number one concern always is the safety of our students,” he said. “After we make sure our students are safe, then we look to see if there might be violations to our student code. We have expectations for students and for organizations, and we have high expectations for both. For egregious and significant violations of student code, there are significant consequences.”
Though he could say little for certain, Curme made clear that Miami’s long and storied Greek tradition should be a point of pride. To Nelsen, in order for this to happen, “something needs to change.”
“They should be models for the nation, and that’s our goal,” Curme said. “We shouldn’t accept anything less than that.”
Jenny Levering, director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, did not respond to requests for comment.
Elizabeth Nelsen, Panhellenic president, and Jack Kellenberger, IFC president, declined to comment beyond their official statements.