More charges against the Greek system came to light last week when the Interfraternity Council found the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity guilty of hazing violations and imposed a one-year suspension on the house. Unfortunately, this incident is only the latest case of hazing in the Greek system; infractions are found nearly every semester despite efforts to combat the abuses. The Greek system must take ZBT’s suspension as a serious wake-up call and redouble its efforts against hazing.
While details about the latest incident are scarce, Dean of Students Sue Eklund has said the violation involved humiliation and excessive drinking. This type of hazing is indefensible. Excessive drinking – whether explicitly forced or merely coerced through peer pressure – and other forms of humiliation serve no legitimate purpose in Greek life. Despite lingering feelings to the contrary, pledges and brothers are not brought closer together through dangerous and often cruel activities. Fraternities are quick to complain they are stereotyped and given an unfair reputation, but this reputation will not change as long as this type of hazing is found in the Greek system year after year.
It would be in the best interest of campus fraternities to halt these cruel practices immediately and permanently. The University’s Office of Greek Life, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association have all taken hard-line stances on the issue – as shown by the recent suspension of ZBT and the punishments given to Alpha Epsilon Phi and Alpha Tau Omega last semester. The persistence of hazing, however, indicates that Greek organizations need to work harder to prevent hazing incidents.
The Greek system must not forget that during University President Mary Sue Coleman’s tenure at the University of Iowa, the system underwent massive changes in response to a student death. Among the most drastic changes was a complete ban on alcohol within the system – a change that most Greek system affiliates would oppose. Greeks should make sure they do not give the administration an excuse – like hazing – to implement such a policy here.