It is right for America’s colleges and universities to take a serious look at the role of fraternities and sororities on their campuses.
This year, four fraternity pledges have died in incidents involving alcohol abuse and hazing. Florida State University and Texas State University have suspended the sororities and fraternities on their campuses after pledges died in alcohol-related initiation rituals. Similar deaths at Penn State University and Louisiana State University have prompted investigations and suspensions at those schools.
In fact, there has been at least one college hazing death each year since 1961. …
At the University of Kansas, there has not been a death since 2009, when 19-year-old Jason Wren was found dead of alcohol poisoning in his bed at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon House. But in December 2014, the Kappa Sigma fraternity was placed on probation for two years following allegations of sexual assault during a non-approved social event at the house.
In response to those incidents, KU stopped short of suspending greek life, but other steps have been taken. The Interfraternity Council at KU voted to ban the presence or consumption of hard liquor by anyone on fraternity property. In addition to the hard alcohol ban, the IFC also created a peer education program to address sexual violence within the greek community and to prohibit “offensive behavior” within the greek community.
… The fraternity deaths have gotten the attention of federal officials. In July, a new anti-hazing bill — the REACH Act or Reporting and Educating About Campus Hazing — was introduced in Congress. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, would require that all incidents of hazing be reported as part of each college’s annual crime report.
No doubt there are aspects of greek life that are beneficial to students. But how much longer must we accept that every year, students are going to die as part of the rituals associated with these organizations? Requiring reporting of hazing incidents as part of college crime reports is a minimal step to take. On a broader scale, colleges and universities across the country should have serious conversations about following the lead of Florida State and Texas State.
— The Lawrence Journal-World