Making an announcement that skeptical
students will not be surprised to hear that the Ann Arbor Police
Department recently announced its investigation of allegations of
misconduct, hazing, physical and sexual assault by the
University’s Greek community were largely unsubstantiated.
The burden is now on the University to provide real evidence of
dangerous misconduct.

Beth Dykstra

Despite the thorough investigation and preliminary conclusions
of the AAPD, the University has stated its own investigation will
be “broader and deeper in scope.” The
University’s investigation, spearheaded by Dean of Students
Sue Eklund, will focus primarily on possible hazing activities
committed by the Greek community and not the AAPD’s principal
concern of endangerment to the physical harm and safety of
individuals.

Under a new state anti-hazing law that went into effect this
summer, hazing became criminalized, with punishments ranging from
90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine to 15 years in jail and a $10,000
fine. The state law defines hazing as “an intentional,
knowing, or reckless act by a person acting alone or acting with
others that is directed against an individual and that the person
knew or should have known endangers the physical health or safety
of the individual, and that is done for the purpose of pledging,
being initiated into, affiliating with, participating in, holding
office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.”
Furthermore, the law denies that victims can consent to hazing,
meaning hazing perpetrators can still be prosecuted regardless of
the alleged victim’s willingness to participate.

According to state law, hazing is criminal only if it endangers
the physical health or safety of the individual. Despite the fact
that state law and the University’s own anti-hazing policy
give the University some jurisdiction to patrol hazing, it is
extremely limited. The Greek system remains independent from the
University, as it always has been. Additionally, it has been the
long-standing policy of the University not to infringe upon the
autonomy the Greeks and for the Greeks to police themselves.
Although the Greeks have demonstrated a willingness to reform, it
has often only been the by product of an unfortunate hazing
incident.

Eklund, who until last week was an interim dean, has immediately
thrown the prestige of her office behind an investigation of the
activities of the Greek system. It would be unfortunate if Eklund
is campaigning on a hard line toward the Greeks in order to become
the permanent dean of students. It would also be unfortunate if the
University were attempting to use these allegations to increase its
oversight over the Greeks system. Dramatically announcing rumors of
serious misconduct publicly could give the University the leverage
it would need to impose many of the changes to the Greek system
that it withdrew earlier this term.

The University needs to prove substantial and definitive
evidence that the recent incidents concerning the Greeks endangered
the physical health and safety of the individuals involved. If the
University is able to find such evidence, then it will be justified
in punishing whomever is responsible. If the University is merely
on a public relations campaign, then it should afford the Greeks
the right to police themselves.

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