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At the end of last November, the entire Greek system at California State University, Chico was suspended indefinitely. Since the start of the spring semester this year, each chapter has worked tirelessly to earn their spots back on campus.
Being a leader in my chapter, I can attest to the work that has been done. We have completed paperwork, presentations, community service, all while not having the privileges of social functions or philanthropy events. We have given it all we have and thus far have gotten nothing in return from the school administration. Unless you count continued scrutiny.
Greeks are held to a higher standard at every college campus. But truthfully, the circumstances under which this suspension occurred are outrageous. A Sigma Pi pledge went out for his 21st birthday, drank too much at a bar and ended up in the hospital. He was induced into a coma and tragically died days later. It was tragic, but he was drinking legally, he was not at a Greek-sponsored event, and he was with members of various sports teams on campus for most of the night, not Greeks. He was also a member of a campus sports team, who received no punishment for this event. Days later the Greek Wide suspension was announced and every Greek member on this campus has been negatively affected by it.
This was not enough to stop all Greeks from trying to regain their previous standing. After all the hard work, the Greek system has just suffered another setback. Just this week, the administration announced that Pike will be suspended for THREE years for “hosting” an around-the-world themed event, attended by various community members including non-Greeks. Sigma Chi will be suspended for two years for “allegedly” brewing beer in their house, and Gamma Phi Beta is suspended for one year for “allegedly” holding an unsanctioned social event.
The extent of the sanctions is unprecedented and uncalled for. The administration seems like it will stop at nothing to bring the whole Greek system down. Here’s a heads up: It is not going to work. I know that there are plenty of other Greek systems in this country going through the same types of issues. I would like to ask those administrations to question what is the benefit of this?
In case you didn’t notice, nobody even talked about the fact that someone actually died once you suspended each and every Greek organization on campus. All anyone talked about was how rash and uncalled for the decision was.
The fact is the administration is self-serving. The school has gotten publicity for this event and how it has been handled. It’s easier, frankly, to blame the Greeks than to address any broader or more deep-seeded issues.
I recently took a Business Dynamics course on campus. A lesson in my textbook by John D. Sterman referred to the “counterintuitive behavior of complex systems”. Meaning that attempts to stabilize a system may actually destabilize it, and that policies can have unintended side effects, effectively leading to the exact opposite of the initial goal.
Here is a prime example. Walking out of the BMU when the suspension was announced, I heard countless people saying “fuck this, lets go drink” right after that guy had died from drinking. I would encourage the school administration to educate itself on the policy resistance created and the many past examples that illustrate this point and its consequences.
I don’t understand why school administrations are trying to push out the Greeks. Not only does Greek life increase your networking skills, and provide leadership opportunities for college students, it poises you to be successful in life. It pushes students to go beyond themselves, and be a representative of something bigger. David Stollman, Cofounder of CAMPUSSPEAK has said “I really see that there’s a great correlation between those skills being developed and the ability to be successful in any endeavor,” he said. “Not necessarily just famous-successful, like a president or CEO, but successful as a community leader or as a small business owner.”
But don’t worry, being Greek does poise you to be more successful than a GDI running for President or CEO. According to a USA Today article, 85% of Fortune 500 executives were part of Greek life and all but three U.S. Presidents since 1825 have been fraternity members. Of course, these are things that we as Greeks already know, and something administrations like the one at Chico State refuse to acknowledge. If you look at how the handled the death that brought us here, it is evident they aren’t big fans of “facts.”
Being an active member in my Greek organization has turned my college town into my home. It’s where I have found my best friends and grown as a leader and a person. Not only within my chapter but beyond to other campus organizations.
The amount of blame Greeks receive without any recognition for our amazing accomplishments is unacceptable. As a whole we are organized and high-achieving members of our campus community. The amount of blame that the sports teams and non-affiliated students receive for events they have contributed to is seemingly non-existent.
University administrations need to realize that imposing sanctions on Greek organizations has not changed the fact that each year people die from alcohol-related causes, not just college students, and not just sorority and fraternity members. According to an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education “after the American College Health Association surveyed officials at four-year colleges enrolling more than 1.3 million students in 2009-10, the data showed a significant gap, with college students having a lower mortality rate than do their peers not in college. The survey also found that students died more from suicide and less from automobile accidents and alcohol-related injuries than was previously thought.”
Is it possible there’s more to these troubling deaths than can be solved by sanctioning Greek organizations? Maybe there are other causes that could be investigated and other preventative measures that could be taken outside of the Greek system?
Schools should not be inhibiting future leaders from developing skills that will help them be successful. The school has asked us to “read our charters” and examine core values, and we have. I would like to ask that they examine theirs too, consider if blaming the Greeks is really solving the real issues with alcohol. It’s about time school administrations rose to the occasion and addressed the real issues and not just perpetuate stereotypes that they have seen proven false firsthand, in order to appease the media. Let’s be honest, that’s all a cowardly administration like Chico State is doing, appeasing the media. They should be ashamed of themselves.
I would say the Greeks will rise again, but we’ve always been at the top and regardless of what is thrown at us next, and that is where we are going to stay.