The Editorial Board supports the Intrafraternity Council’s temporary suspension of fraternity social events and hopes this action will allow these greek organizations to direct even more of their resources towards philanthropy, campus involvement and the academic success of their members.
IU joins a growing list of universities suspending fraternity activities, including Ohio State University, Ball State University and the University of Michigan.
This suspension is not just because, as one student tweeted, IU is “jealous” of their “fun.”
The Editorial Board refuses to label the community that has nationally produced rates of sexual assault four times higher amongst sorority members than amongst other non-affiliated women as “fun.”
The principles of life espoused by IU’s fraternities — virtue, truth, discipline, charity, morality and purity, among others — were obviously lacking at the Penn State fraternity party that resulted in Tim Piazza’s alcohol-related death and led to 1,098 recommended criminal charges against 18 former members and the fraternity itself.
The alleged hazing and drug use that led to Phi Kappa Psi’s suspension and the sexual assault allegation that led to Alpha Tau Omega’s suspension, while not fatal, are still symptomatic of the sickness afflicting fraternities on campus and across the nation.
As IU junior Colin Shassberger writes in a letter to the Indianapolis Star, “A suspension doesn’t stop rape culture. It doesn’t stop the promotion of binge drinking and substance abuse. It doesn’t stop the spread of toxic masculinity, sexism and homophobia.”
If these problems exist in our fraternities — and the Editorial Board believes they do — a suspension only delays the reemergence of these grave issues.
Unfortunately, even direct interventions designed to reduce alcohol consumption in fraternities may have little efficacy.
According to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Health Psychology, “Greek letter organizations consume higher quantities of alcohol, report more frequent drinking and experience more alcohol-related consequences relative to non-greek peers.”
After interventions designed to reduce alcohol consumption, they also “drank no less and reported no fewer alcohol-related problems,” though did see a slight decrease in quantity of alcohol consumed per week or month.
The study suggests five reasons why fraternities are so resistant to changing their alcohol-related habits.
Fraternity brothers are more likely to misperceive social norms associated with alcohol use, socialized in environments where alcohol misuse is likely to be rewarded and more likely to have positive expectations about alcohol consumption.
The fact fraternities are off-campus and often unsupervised also allows alcohol consumption to go unregulated and underreported.
And lastly, students who have preexisting histories of heavy alcohol use are simply more likely to be drawn into the Greek communities demonstrating similar drinking habits.
These are the factors, among others, that must be addressed during this suspension if the IFC genuinely wants to improve its greek community and not just wag its finger at them until the Feb. 28 expiration.
IU’s fraternities have been given an opportunity to thoughtfully reassess the priorities of their brotherhoods and the Editorial Board suggests that they make use of it.
For the other 82 percent of IU students who aren’t directly involved in greek life, here’s a simple way to help get the message across: when those inevitable invitations to some questionably-themed ragers are sent out this March?