Phi Gamma Delta's Weak Fight Against Hazing
Phi Gamma Delta recently published their organizational strategy to halt hazing in the spring edition of their journal.
It is noble but weak. I'll explain.
The plan consists of four main points. These include rethink the joining process, increased training and education, reinforce hazing's risks and consequences and rally all constituents. The article may be viewed here.
An organization can "rethink" the joining process all it wants; however, this will do little to control hazing. Sigma Alpha Epsilon abolished pledging as an organization in 2014 and they still have hazing in their chapters. A recent example involves their chapter at Loyola who was closed for hazing (Rhodes, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 23, 2017). If a group wants to stratify members and treat those who are new to the group as second class citizens, they will find a way to do it.
Training and education efforts are good. Again, however, these must be done each year with a new group of members who will be educating pledges. The variance in consistency from chapter to chapter will be immense.
"It won't happen to us" is the attitude one finds when dealing with college students and magnifying to them the risks associated with hazing will do little to change behavior. Many brothers and their respective chapters will think they can outsmart the system and they won't get caught. It will happen to someone else.
Rallying all constituents is the best tactic of the four; however, there is little detail mentioned on how the fraternity will use parents and alumni to change and monitor behavior.
I wrote a piece in November of 2017 that was published by Inside Higher Education that offered the prescription for managing hazing. The article is available here. It includes greater alumni supervision and complete transparency on the performance of chapters through posting a dashboard of key metrics at the national fraternity's website or at the respective college/university website or both. A few campuses including the University of Arizona and Pennsylvania State have done this and it is now state law in South Carolina to make this information available. Fraternities, including Phi Gamma Delta, have resisted doing this making one wonder what they are hiding.
The fight against hazing is tough. The tactics could be a good deal stronger.
Why Rules Don't Solve Problems
February 14, 2018
By Staff at SafeFrat.com
A recent article about fraternal affairs at the University of Memphis illustrates why increased rules or regulations on their own do not solve problems when it comes to fraternity life and hazing (The article appears below).
The final paragraph mentions how the university tightened up its rules prohibiting hazing and forced members to attend educational sessions on hazing. Given the recent news contained in this report about four groups being suspended, it appears the educational message was lost somewhere.
More rules are not needed. ALL fraternities have in their respective bylaws language that prohibits hazing. Most of these rules have been in place since the early 1980’s. The PROBLEM – most fraternity chapters have an inadequate structure in place to effectively monitor and enforce the rules.
I would recommend three things for the Tigers’ Greek system:
- Do not eliminate the system. Elimination would only drive it underground. Students are going to use their constitutional right to freely associate.
- Work with the national fraternities to ensure that each group has adequate and trained advisors in place. If they don’t, suspend them until they do. It is fair to ensure each group has adequate alumni support.
- Create a Greek Scorecard that summarizes the behavior of each chapter and post it online. There are great examples of this at Penn State and just down the road at the University of Tennessee.
Fraternities, when structured correctly, elevate the performance of students and add great value to their lives and the institution. When they exist in a sea of rules and regulations with no supervision, they many times operate poorly.
4 UofM fraternities suspended for violations
Tuesday, February 13th 2018, 5:00 pm
By WMCActionNews5.com Staff
Four University of Memphis fraternities, including a co-ed business fraternity, have been suspended for violations including hazing as well as drug and alcohol use.
The Dean of Students said an investigation and a formal hearing led to the fraternities' suspensions for violating the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities last fall.
The suspended fraternities include business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi), Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike), and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE).
AKPsi’s violations include dangerous conduct toward others, verbal threats, hazing, and obstructing or interfering with institutional activities or facilities. The co-ed business fraternity is suspended until Aug. 1, 2018 and must create a Hazing Prevention Plan, as well as an organizational Personal Development Plan.
ATO’s violations include hazing, using/possessing alcoholic beverages and drugs, attempting to violate the rules of governing student conduct or aiding/abetting, and unacceptable conduct in proceedings by failure to obey the directives of a disciplinary body or university official(s) in the performance of their duties. The fraternity is suspended until Dec. 31, 2022 and must create a Hazing Prevention Plan, as well as a Personal Development Plan.
Pike’s violations include dangerous conduct toward others, physical abuse, hazing, using/possessing alcoholic beverages, and intentional or unintentional furnishing or sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 21. The fraternity is suspended until Dec. 31, 2022 and must create a Hazing Prevention Plan, as well as a Personal Development Plan.
SAE’s violations include hazing, using/possessing alcoholic beverages, intentional or unintentional furnishing or sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 21, and attempting to violate the rules of governing student conduct, or aiding/abetting. The fraternity is suspended until all current members have graduated or in four years on Dec. 31, 2021, whichever occurs first. SAE must create a Hazing Prevention Plan, a Personal Development Plan, and is prohibited upon return for a term of 12 years.
“It is upsetting,” UofM senior Kelsey White said. “They're allowed to have that brotherhood and they should respect that and use integrity and follow the rules.”
Last month, a Tennessee lawmaker proposed a bill that would eliminate fraternities and sororities from college campuses because of hazing and student deaths. However, UofM's Vice President of Student Affairs said the ban on Greek life wouldn't solve the problem.
“When you hear things like that it's just not good, and it gives a bad representation for our school and our school is awesome,” White said.
Last fall, UofM implemented new rules for Greek life, requiring all fraternity and sorority members to attend meetings on hazing and sexual assault prevention. The university also tightened up its rules on alcohol inside Greek Houses.
Why The Reach Act May Not Reach Far Enough
October 3, 2017
The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives following the tragic death of Tim Piazza at Penn State University. This bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Higher Education Act requires colleges and universities to track and report crime statistics. The REACH Act would add hazing to the list of activities to be captured and reported.
If one looks at a typical report from a college campus; however, there is simply a count of the amount of crime in a specific category. In the sample provided below, burglary is reported 37 times in 2013, 17 in 2014 and 14 in 2015. This is helpful, particularly when comparing to another campus. Would it not be more helpful to inform people where on campus the burglaries took place and possibly what time of day?
The same can be said about reporting hazing incidents. A count of incidents with no detail will be helpful; however, listing the name of the fraternity who caused the violation and the detail of what happened will be much more helpful. Requiring pledges to carry change and matches for personal use by brothers or forcing them to stay blindfolded and demeaned at the chapter house at 2am are both hazing incidents. They are quite different, however.
Simply counting the incidents is not thorough enough.
Source: U.S. Department of Higher Education, Campus Safety and Security, https://ope.ed.gov/campussafety/#/
A great example of what should be provided can be found here supplied by the University of Arizona. It is much more specific and helpful.
NIC Supports REACH Act While Keeping Key Data Secret
By Staff at SafeFrat.com
July 18, 2017
The fraternity industry’s primary trade organization, the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), announced its support for the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act recently introduced in the US House of Representatives. This bill will amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 which in part requires colleges and universities to track and report crime statistics. Hazing will be added to the list of campus crime and activity to be reported.
The NIC, however, in its bylaws revised December 2, 2015, exempts member groups from reporting two key elements that are helpful determining the viability and safety of fraternity chapters. Those exemptions include chapters closed during the academic year and the reason for closing and list of chapters operating without recognition from the college or university where the chapter resides. To review the NIC bylaws, specifically Section 2. (b) (2) (B) and (D), go here.
“Research shows hazing prevention is best accomplished through comprehensive measures, including proactive education, transparency and accountability around standards,” said NIC President and CEO Judson Horras. “The North-American Interfraternity Conference backs the REACH Act because it focuses on these critical strategies. NIC member fraternities stand united in providing positive, hazing-free, meaningful rites of passage that strengthen and develop young men.”
Perhaps Mr. Horras and the NIC should amend their bylaws to better align their rhetoric with reality.
Sanction Seems Light for Fijis at Bama
September 28, 2016
By Staff at SafeFrat.com
Jeremy Gray of AL.com reported on October 2, 2015 a story involving five members involved in a hazing incident at Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Alabama. Pledges of the fraternity suffered burns as a result of being placed on a block of ice that had been salted.
AL.com originally reported that the five members of the fraternity, who were subsequently arrested, had been expelled from Phi Gamma Delta. You can view the original story at http://www.al.com/news/tuscaloosa/index.ssf/2015/10/university_of_alabama_hazing_c.html.
Upon further review, this is not the case. Below are screen shots of the five students’ database records clearly showing them as members of the fraternity as of today.
It is shocking to see that Phi Gamma Delta lists the chapter on “Probation” at its web-site at phigam.org. Probation is an incredibly light sanction for a group that facilitated this type of behavior. I say “group” as the incident was reported to have occurred on the second story of the Fiji house. It would be naive to think that other members of the chapter did not have knowledge of the activity taking place. Phi Gamma Delta also has an alcohol free housing policy that exempts chapters who meet certain standards and are not under disciplinary action. Obviously, this is not the case at Bama (see image below).
A better strategy would have been to suspend all of the undergraduate members of the Fiji house and reopen a year or two later with a new group of students who do not desire to participate in this type of behavior. “Probation” is not even a slap on the wrist.
What the NIC Should Do to Improve Fraternity
August 23, 2016
I have read with great interest the report of the North American Interfraternity Conference’s (NIC) 2.0 Commission. Good for them getting together to attempt to make their member groups stronger and improve the reputation of fraternity. The NIC is comprised of well-intentioned people who want to do the right thing. The report may be accessed here https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2630650/nic-2-0-commission-letter-to-members.pdf.
There appears to be a good deal of fluff in the Commission’s work, however. For the NIC to be successful and change the impact of fraternity on most of the campuses where it is represented, a much simpler approach should be considered.
One, cut member dues in half and encourage member organizations to invest in building up their local chapter advisory groups. At an average savings of $15,000 per organization, this amounts to over 1 million dollars that could be used to strengthen the volunteer network. Fraternity staff know that few if any problems exist at those institutions where they have excellent alumni support. Many national fraternities lack the resources or will to develop these networks.
Two, develop basic programming in core areas and make this available to all member groups. Standard programming on scholarship, pledge education and alumni relations should be created by the NIC; thereby, lowering the development cost for member groups.
Three, serve as an unashamed advocate for the freedom of association rights for members. If a college or university attempts to move to restrict the ability of students to freely associate during the pledge process, the NIC should immediately move to block this action and teach students the importance of standing up for their constitutional right.
The NIC describes the work of the commission occurring during a critical juncture in the life of fraternity and the NIC. The climate has been this way for thirty years largely as a result of the impotence of the NIC and lack of leadership by many of its individual members.