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Editorial | 'Mother of Fraternities' slowly slips away: Miami stays quiet

By Editorial Board
On March 7, 2014

Greek life may bring some negative attention to Miami University, but it remains a large part of the culture here. So much so that Miami is often referred to as the "Mother of Fraternities." These organizations have been around since the 19th century - with Beta Theta Pi established first in 1839, followed by Phi Delta Theta (1848), Sigma Chi (1855) and Phi Kappa Tau (1906).

Now, only one of these four alpha fraternities is active on campus. Last month, just hours after becoming members, a handful of sorority women were hospitalized as a result of alcohol consumption.

The Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life partners with the advisors and national chapters of Panhellenic, IFC and NPHC to educate and protect members of the Greek community.

It is also a supporter of the Good Samaritan Policy, which allows the person seeking care of a friend for alcohol or drug abuse to do so without fear of judicial citations. Policies like this are making it possible for organizations like fraternities and sororities to handle problems internally. "Internally" is good. It means nationals and the university don't have to get involved as much and the media has less of a chance of catching on.

Ideally, this would mean fewer stigmas for Greek life and more fraternities on campus - but that's if every individual on campus were to act as a Good Samaritan when they have to. Director at the Cliff Alexander Office Jennifer Levering said the office is "working on continuing to improve the training for internal standards conduct and judicial boards in each of our chapters," she said, "Peer accountability is important. Many issues within chapters can be solved if there is peer accountability for individual members." 

"Continuous and new programming will be offered from the Cliff Alexander Office and from the three individual council programming committees. We will also continue to provide support to student leaders and staff running training for internal standards and judicial boards for each of our chapters," Claire Wagner, director of University News and Communication, said.

We encourage you to read the "Letter from Miami" featured on this editorial page for further comments from administration on these issues.

By hearing about these proactive steps, it is clear Miami places a high importance not only on keeping kids educated, but also keeping them safe.

After all, Greeks contribute a lot to the overall success of many third-party efforts. For example, what does the athletic department do to get more attendance at sporting events? Give free tickets to fraternities and sororities. The same goes for undersold concerts at Brick Street or the current implementation of "I Am Miami". Greeks have power by numbers and that is something the university clearly recognizes.

But even though they might recognize this problem, they do not outwardly communicate it.

An editorial from last November titled "TMS calls on administration to address recent student deaths" expresses similar grievances.

Afterall, the first step to recovery is to acknowledge there is a problem. We are still waiting for Miami to do this. And not just to the Greek community but to the rest of the student body, because the reputation of Miami University is deeply impacted by the actions of Greek life.

It seems like every few months another fraternity or sorority is getting in trouble with their nationals or the university. We don't want Miami to be associated with these stereotypes. That is why we urge the administration to speak up about the initiatives they are taking and how they will help Miami stay away from a "party school" stereotype.

But the fact remains that the Greek community is a prominent part of Miami's culture. It shapes the tone and feel of our whole campus. Not to mention the fact that nearly a third of us are involved in Greek life. As such, the university administration should face these sorts of situations head-on and should be at the center of initiatives to eliminate hazing, binge drinking and other unsafe activities within the Greek community.


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