Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Private colleges ban fraternities, sororities

(U-WIRE) KENT, Ohio — The numbers are staggering. Greeks claim a large number of the most powerful people in the United States.

Seventy-five percent of the U.S. Congress is Greek. More than 85 percent of student leaders in 720 college campuses are Greek members. Eighty percent of Fortune 500 executives are Greek, according to Kent State University’s Greek-life Web site “10 Fast Greek Facts.”

But a “fast fact” that is not listed on the site is that only three of the top 10 most prestigious liberal-arts schools have Greek systems, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2002 report on U.S. colleges and universities.

Deaths among college Greek members and the movement away from community service has left some schools with the choice of removing fraternities and sororities from their campuses.

The decision to do away with the Greek system has already happened at schools like Williams College, Bowdoin College, Colby College and Alfred University in New York.

Alfred faced a nightmare situation that contributed to the demise of its Greek system after a student was found dead behind a fraternity house in February.

Benjamin Klein, 21, was allegedly beaten by members of his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau.

Alfred spokeswoman Susan Goetschius said the student’s death was not found to be a direct result of the beating, and charges have not been brought against the fraternity brothers who beat him.

“What we heard is that they [Klein and some fraternity brothers] divulged secrets [about the fraternity] at a chapter meeting in Syracuse,” Goetschius said.

Although she warned that details surrounding the incident are only hearsay, she said his fraternity brothers beat him on the way home from the meeting in Syracuse on a Saturday.

She said it is then believed Klein apologized to his brothers and said he was going home.

Goetschius said members of the fraternity reported Klein missing when they discovered his car was still at the fraternity house.

Klein was officially reported missing the next day, and was found frozen and dead later that night just yards away from the backdoor of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house.

Klein’s death was a factor taken into consideration by the Alfred board of trustees when deciding whether or not to phase out Greek organizations on the campus.

All the board of trustees members but one, who abstained from voting, recommend the organizations be removed.

Although a few fraternities and sororities still exist at Alfred, they cannot recruit new members and cannot remain at all if they are not in good standing with the university. Two Greek organizations at the university were removed recently after breaking the school’s anti-hazing policy. The hazing infractions happened after Klein’s death.

“The Greek system is beyond repair,” Robert McComsey, the chairman of Alfred’s board, told The New York Times

Removing fraternities and sororities from college campuses is not new.

Williams College began phasing out fraternities and sororities in the early 1960s, spokesman Jim Kolesar said. None were left by 1969.

And deaths associated with the Greek system are not new, either.

Alfred experienced another death of a member of a local fraternity, Klan Alpine, in February 1978. This one was directly related to hazing.

“He [the student] was put in a trunk of a car with a six pack and a bottle of liquor and told to drink,” Goetschius said.

The student was found dead at the fraternity house.

Alfred has done a number of studies on fraternities and sororities following the deaths.

Researchers found the number of students who binge-drink and receive low grades was higher with Greek members than students not involved in a Greek organization.

And hazing is an ongoing problem in the Greek system despite efforts made by Greeks themselves to stop it.

Brandon Joseph, the vice president of Alpha Epsilon Pi at Kent State, said his fraternity has a rule against hazing.

“Hazing is not what the Greek system is about; if it does happen, that is terrible,” Joseph said. “Hazing is probably still out there. We are non-hazing and have a phone number to report incidents to our national chapter.”

Goetschius said despite laws against hazing in 42 states, including Ohio, it “is going on, and people are not aware of it. People will always say, ‘It’s not a problem here.'”

But people such as Goetshcius said the vow of silence that goes along with Greek organizations also keeps the violations and illegal activity the organizations sometimes engage in secret.

Despite tight bonds between Greeks, 83 percent of Alfred’s board of trustees who voted to remove Greek organizations were themselves affiliated with them.

Public universities like Kent State University cannot remove the Greek system as a whole, Robert DeKoven said.

DeKoven, an expert on educational law and professor at the California Western School of Law, said public universities only can ban a Greek organization if it breaks the law or university policy. He said this is because public universities are bound by the Constitution and cannot discriminate against a group.

Kent State’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended for one year because of a paddling booth fundraiser during the fall orientation week.

Individual chapters of fraternities like Pi Kappa Pi have been banned permanently at places like California State University-Chico after an 18-year-old pledge died of alcohol poisoning after a “brotherhood event” at the chapter’s fraternity house.

Goetschius said it is not an easy decision to remove a huge part of college life, but it is even harder to cope with the death of a student.

Benjamin Klein’s death caused “a lot of grief among current students and alumni,” she said.

Kolesar said students have not viewed Williams College negatively because they don’t offer Greek life.

In fact, he said, “many students say they come here because we have no fraternities or sororities.”

Kolesar also said when the university made the move to diversify the campus and make it coed, he believes the transition was smoother because there were no Greek organizations.

Kolesar said this is because many Greek organizations in the early ’60s did not allow minority and Jewish students to join, which created an environment of exclusion rather than inclusion.

Greeks themselves, like Joseph, admit the mission of Greek organizations has shifted over their long history.

“In a way they have streamed away from community service,” Joseph said. “But I see things turning around. We’ve done M.S. [Multiple Sclerosis] walks, read to kids, tutored.”

Alpha Epsilon Pi president Joseph said he doesn’t think universities should ban Greek organizations.

“It is terrible, because they don’t know what they are doing,” Joseph said. “They are getting rid of something great.”

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