Greek Life Needs to Acknowledge, Fix Harmful ‘Traditions’

Michen Dewey | The Phoenix Dr. William Rodriguez, currently associate dean of students at UIC, will be Loyola's new dean of students come November.

It has been almost three years since Loyola suspended the fraternity Sigma Pi in 2014.

That suspension, which was the first for a fraternity at Loyola since 2012, left a black mark on Greek life at the university. Sigma Pi was found to have engaged in lewd conduct with a mannequin, taking vulgar pictures with the mannequin, creating a Facebook profile for it and using it to haze new members, as The Phoenix reported at the time.

The headless, legless Victoria’s Secret mannequin that they named Saleena Chatterc–t got the fraternity’s chapter suspended from the university and revoked by the Grand Council of Sigma Pi Fraternity International.

More importantly, it became a symbol of what could go wrong in Greek life at Loyola.

Following Sigma Pi’s suspension, Tim Love, at the time Loyola’s assistant dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), said that, while he was glad Loyola became aware of the fraternity’s actions, the university isn’t solely responsible for preventing incidents such as the one with Sigma Pi from occurring.

“In a perfect world, if fraternities all lived out the values that they espoused and sororities did the same, a fraternity house would be the safest place on campus,” Love told The Phoenix in 2014.

Yet, three years later, it doesn’t seem as though much has changed.

Another fraternity, this time Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), is facing scrutiny from the university. Loyola suspended the fraternity’s Illinois Alpha-Omega chapter for three years after a “thorough investigation” found SAE responsible for hazing activity and “disorderly conduct” that disrupted the neighborhood, according to an emailed university statement from Dean of Students K.C. Mmeje.

As a whole, Loyola Greek life isn’t an inherently bad community. Every social fraternity and sorority on campus raises thousands of dollars for charity and engages in various philanthropic events each year.

While the point of these organizations is to be social, one of their missions is to raise awareness for specific causes, and most have done that. SAE itself has raised thousands in its annual “St. Baldrick’s” philanthropy event.

But that doesn’t absolve Greek life of its faults.

For some reason, fraternities and sororities on campus seem to want to protect each other rather than root out the problems that have tainted their reputations in the past.

Fraternity and sorority members can’t say Greek life gets a bad reputation for no reason if these incidents keep happening every couple years. After a certain point, it’s time to fix the problem, not blame others for recognizing a problem.

Fraternities and sororities on campus have to hold themselves accountable to prevent another embarrassment, because that’s exactly what these situations are.

Actions that merit a suspension almost always are contradictory to the positive social values and benefits to the community that Greek life prides itself on.

They need to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and their peers and know that there’s no use in protecting each other, unless they want another repeat of an investigation in the future.

Yes, there might be traditions in Greek life. But there are traditions in almost any organized setting. That doesn’t make the traditions right, and it doesn’t mean the traditions should stay traditions.

It’s not good enough to say, “That’s just how things are done.” If they’re not done the right way — in accordance with the university’s rules and, in Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s case, potentially Illinois hazing law — then maybe that’s not the way things should be done anymore.

In January 2013, about a year and a half before Loyola suspended Sigma Pi for four years, OSCCR investigated the fraternity and found it guilty of hazing. Sigma Pi was held accountable with an anti-hazing prevention workshop, volunteer work for National Hazing Prevention Week and the cessation of all new-member additions.

Exactly one year later, Loyola put Sigma Pi on probation and put the fraternity through anti-bullying and harassment programs.

SAE has seen what happens when fraternities at Loyola haze their members. SAE was careless and irresponsible to continue the same practices after seeing where they’ve gotten other fraternities.

Greek life is a positive community, one that helps care for others. But when certain groups act out, all they do is feed into the stereotypes they try so hard to separate themselves from, discrediting their philanthropic work.

For SAE or any other fraternity to put itself in that situation is a dangerous game to play, one that needs to end before it really is game over.

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