So I hear you got busted. For what? It doesn’t matter. Could’ve been allegations of hazing, serving alcohol to minors, being a minor who consumed alcohol, or that “thing” that happened to the girls soccer team’s locker room. That’s not the issue here. The issue is that you are about to make a trip to our good friends over at Judicial Affairs. And I, being the benevolent assister of those in need, want to help you. Think of me as your very own public defender, the only difference being that I actually know how to wear a suit.
1. Don’t fall for their Law & Order tricks.
I swear to God, it was like some of the guys I pledged with hadn’t seen a cop show in their lives. True story, the JA office got wind of some “off book” pledging activities and called in a couple JIs they heard were involved. They bring them in separately, and I shit you not, they use the oldest interrogation trick in the fictional cop’s manual. They tell the second guy “Look, [redacted] already told us that the pledges were forced to do bows and toes. We’re fine with that (BULLSHIT), but we want to make sure that no broken glass or bottle caps were used.” And the kid fucking fell for it. He assured them that no glass or caps were used, effectively admitting that the bows and toes happened. He and all the other guys associated with the incident were banned from pledging activities for the rest of the semester, and all he had to say to prevent that was, “I’m sorry? Bows and toes? I’m not familiar with the term. Is it like a sequel to Boats and Hoes?”
Also, for the record, no broken glass was used. There may or may not have been bottle caps. My memory’s a little hazy.
2. Don’t rat out other fraternities.
Look, I get it. There aren’t many things more satisfying than seeing the douchers at the house across the way get busted for being idiots. But let them fuck it up for themselves. We actually had to internally discipline a couple of guys for going to Judicial Affairs about a rival fraternity letting minors into their parties. The house got busted, and put on probation. Cool, right? Wrong. Because when shit happens to one chapter, it comes down on all of Greek life. For the rest of the year, every house on campus enjoyed more visits from campus PD, higher scrutiny, and more fines because two of my brothers decided to put a rivalry over the good of the whole.
3. Get involved.
My fraternity discovered something long before I ever wore the letters. The university disciplinarians are pragmatists. They always prefer the devil they know over the devil they don’t. If your officers and members are upstanding members of the college community, they are going to treat you a lot differently if they end up calling you in for something. Run for student government. And most importantly, get some of your people on the fucking J-Board. Student Judicial Boards are the best creation since the multi-hose beer bong. As long as you make sure to hand out punishments that are adequately reasonable to everyone (including your own house), administration will leave you alone. A semester of suspension from a certain type of activity is way better than losing a pledge class or your charter.
4. Use the school’s own tricks against it.
The fact of the matter is, universities are not beacons of the moral high ground. They lie, cheat and steal arguably more than most fraternities do. When rumors start flying around about potential NCAA violations, what does a school always do? Wait for NCAA investigators to come in and sift through their dirty laundry? Fuck no. They conduct an “internal investigation,” in which case, depending on how much shit they were really up to, they turn themselves in for a few of the more minor things, allow a couple of old titles to be expunged, and maybe lose a couple scholarships. You guys can do the same thing. If people on campus are buzzing about something your house got up to, chances are Judicial Affairs already knows. Hold a chapter meeting, decide how much you want to reveal, and who’s willing to take the fall for it, and then turn yourselves in. If you regularly police yourself, they won’t have to do it for you.
Also, be smart about your scapegoats. Offer a backroom deal to one of your older members to take the fall for something. Tell him he won’t have to pay dues, will still have secret voting rights, and can arbitrarily bang any of the officers’ girlfriends if he agrees to take the suspension. Trust me, the old dudes don’t wanna pay dues anyway, so they’re always down. I actually agreed to take the heat for a particular incident that happened a month into fall semester my senior year. We already knew it would lead to my suspension from intramural participation. The thing Judicial Affairs didn’t realize was that I broke my arm over break, and couldn’t have played football even if I’d wanted to. Be smart.
At the end of the day, Judicial Affairs isn’t the arch nemesis of Greek life because they’re evil (although a case could be made for one particular woman at my alma mater). They just want to keep the university out of a lawsuit, and let’s be honest, fraternities are the single biggest liability universities have. So, if you really want to avoid getting fucked over, don’t do stupid shit. Don’t do stuff that could ever, ever lead to serious injuries, and periodically kick some freshmen out of your parties. Yes, including the girls. Yeah, I know Watkins was about to hook up with one of them — I don’t care. The good of the fraternity outweighs the sexual needs of Watkins. It’s the Greek way.