“I found this yellow journalism to be so short sighted
and biased that it can be summed up as nothing other than
“ignorant.” Adams has the unique opportunity to write
for one of the most respected student newspapers in the country. He
should start writing like it.”

Daniel Adams

— Mike Lieto, Letter to the Editor (Adams
misrepresented Sigma Chi’s record of charity
,
9/30/03)

 

That little ditty was a small excerpt of a
letter that appeared last year on this very page, blasting me for a
column I had written criticizing Sigma Chi and its expulsion from
the Greek system.

I’ve been with this paper for three years now, and in that
time, I’ve written several very critical columns about the
Greek system. These columns, in turn, have been my most consistent
source of angry letters, both to the editor and to my person,
justifiably upset at my criticism of something that many on this
campus care a lot about.

This column, however, won’t be an angry public roasting of
the Greek system — not entirely, anyway.

First off, I wanted to thank people like Mike Lieto, for taking
the time to give me their feedback of my work.

Second, I wanted to thank the Greek system, for making me look
good and people like Mike Lieto look very, very bad.

Now, the point here isn’t to gloat — again, at least
not entirely. But, with the latest Greek scandal gracing the front
pages of last Wednesday’s Daily, who could blame me for
taking a moment to reflect on what have been two terrible,
embarrassing, disgraceful years for the University’s Greek
system.

In the time that I’ve worked for this paper, a hazing
ritual at Sigma Chi led to a pledge being hospitalized for kidney
failure and the fraternity being booted off campus.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilo were involved in a
multi-person brawl last February.

The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Association were
embarrassed last year when they sent one of their members to the
hospital with alcohol poisoning.

Now this latest crisis — allegations of a hazing scandal
implicating seven houses on campus, the most shocking of which is a
case in which intoxicated sorority pledges were forcibly stripped
and put into a room with similarly intoxicated fraternity pledges.
One can only imagine what could have happened next.

Unquestionably, my preference is that the Greek system fix
what’s wrong with it. Unfortunately, it has time and time
again proven unwilling or unable to do this. Last year, the
University proposed a number of changes designed to, “adopt
proactive practices to prevent hazing.” The Greek system
opposed these changes. This fall, the University announced that it
was dropping the proposal. None of the changes have been
adopted.

So, as my optimism that the Greek system will right itself
wanes, I’ll settle for the smug sense of satisfaction that
comes at having my conclusions confirmed time and time again. So,
seriously guys, thanks! Not only are you guys actively helping me,
one of your most ardent detractors, paint your organization
negatively in print, but you’re making your allies —
those who have stuck their collective necks out defending you
— look like fools. They wrote me. They called me out. Told me
that I am a jerk. That the Greek system was more than just date
rape and hazing scandals.

And boy, are you guys proving them wrong.

So given that you folks can’t or won’t help out your
most ardent supporters, I will. I’ll save them the trouble of
writing me this time, by pointing out the best of the dozens of
excuses that I’ve received: “This goes on in every
dorm, on every college campus in the country.” “The
Greek system does a lot of good.” “We’re working
on these problems, and all you do is criticize.”

The answer to each is yes. Yes, all of the above are absolutely
true.

But charity and good intentions only get you so far. They
certainly don’t excuse much, and they do even less to account
for the deafening silence that inevitably follows any Greek
scandal. Every time it happens, everyone acts surprised, as if they
really didn’t know this was going on. But ask any Greek
member in private, and they know. And if not, they’re the
only ones who don’t.

Last year, after the Sigma Chi incident broke, then IFC
President Branden Muhl said the following, “ It’s
absolutely unfathomable what would produce or provoke hazing such
as this.”

Now, one year and several scandals later, are we still this
confused?

Adams can be reached at
“mailto:dnadams@umich.edu”>dnadams@umich.edu.

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