Three university presidents take on Greek organization misbehavior
- Three presidents of universities where students died after fraternity parties are the catalyst for new efforts to make activity in Greek organizations safer, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Eric Barron of Pennsylvania State University, F. King Alexander of Louisiana State University and John Thrasher of Florida State University believe that displaying a unified front will make it easier to bring about change in a segment of campus life where controversial, offensive or tragic issues gain widespread media attention too often.
- They also have begun to develop a national scorecard that gathers data on Greek organization behavior to form a resource database where administrators can share strategies and information about the success of various approaches.
The three universities have each had incidents that prompted administrators to think about ways to improve safety related to Greek life since measures to eliminate fraternities and sororities were seen as too harsh. Often Greek members reacted strongly against efforts to regulate the organizations, suggesting administrators were simply "anti-Greek."
Led by the trio of administrators, representatives from about 30 institutions met earlier this year to discuss problems with some of the 12,000 fraternity and sorority groups – primarily hazing, drugs and alcohol abuse. They agreed that standards for behavior were necessary.
After several visible events on campuses with Greek organizations, seven big universities in November suspended all Greek activities, including sponsored social events to evaluate the current climate and develop solutions.
Individual campuses have taken other action. Florida State University has devoted $1 million to policy changes that will restrict how alcohol is served at parties, among other regulations. Cornell University has a website on hazing, and the University of Arizona has a parent-outreach program with a newsletter explaining hazing. The University of Central Florida runs a program to train faculty about the problem.
But the Greek groups have power. Their alumni account for as much as 60% of donations to colleges, members serve in key political and business positions, and Greek organizations have a political action committee that reports it has raised more than $836,000 this year alone.
- Chronicle of Higher Education Their Students Died at Frat Parties. Now These Presidents Are Trying to Make Sure That Never Happens Again.