Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

The 'Mother of Fraternities' can, and should, do better

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

When the Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced on Feb. 20 that they would be indefinitely suspending fraternity activity, due to reports of hazing, we thought it was going to be a big deal. Many of us on the editorial board believed the suspension would seriously affect the Miami community for the foreseeable future.

But the ban on social activities was lifted for half of the fraternities less than two weeks later. And things were back to normal for almost everyone by Green Beer Day.

As of now, only two Greek organizations -- fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and sorority Phi Mu -- have been charged by the Office of Student Ethics and Conflict Resolutions (OESCR) with yet-unreleased offenses. Three investigations of fraternities are still pending and could result in charges.

Our editors have talked with students around Miami, and many are under the impression that the momentary suspension of social fraternity life, along with the subsequent OESCR investigations, were arbitrary punishments brought down by President Crawford.

But President Crawford didn't kick off this semester's chain of Greek restrictions. Students did.

Students were hazed, and they reported it to the university -- anonymously, by email and through EthicsPoint, a tool put in place by Miami just for that purpose.

The university received these hazing reports and notified IFC -- who then enacted the suspension while the university began investigating those reports.

By "the university," of course, we mean Jerry Olson, OESCR's investigator. On top of serving as Miami's Interim Title IX Investigator (he came out of retirement to do the job), Olson was the primary administrator tasked with working through all the hazing reports.

But OESCR can't make charges based on anonymous complaints.

We realize that opening up about hazing isn't often safe for individuals. But, until people come forward, Miami fraternities will be trapped in an endless cycle of hazing, anonymous reporting, investigations and lip-service suspensions -- a cycle that doesn't fix the dangerous and illegal circumstances that many Miami first-years are subjected to.

Some of the complaints cite pretty egregious hazing incidents, including (but very much not limited to) being forced to "drink until passing out" and "lick[ing] the floor clean."

This should warrant more than a slap on the wrist by the powers that be. But the university can't dig further, with good reason -- punishing any organization on the basis of anonymous complaints alone could set a potentially dangerous precedent. Short of unilaterally abolishing Greek life, the administration is all out of cards to play.

What's IFC's excuse?

They have room to make change -- and they don't need to wait for a hazing-related debacle that captures the attention of the public to do so.

Alcohol-related hazing has killed students at other universities. Students have reported alcohol-related hazing at Miami. Overconsumption has led to the deaths of students at Miami. Greek Miami students statistically drink more than non-Greek students.

Enact suspensions that actually mean something -- and enforce them. Bar fraternities from electing sophomore presidents, a practice that makes it difficult for Greek leaders to hold upperclassmen accountable. Protect and encourage students to come forward with hazing reports.

Every semester that passes without significant reform means more students subjected to dangerous (and illegal) hazing. Unless IFC and the Greek community decide to police their own behavior, it seems the only paths that might effect that necessary change are tragedy or the dissolution of Greek life altogether.