Banning Greek Life at the UofA?

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Could it ever be conceivable that the University of Alabama would take the drastic step that Florida State University (FSU)  has taken and ban Greek life? Just what circumstances could possibly lead to such a measure?

At FSU it was reported by Bryon Dobson in USA Today that the FSU Administration had banned Greek life after the death of a fraternity pledge.

Florida State University President John Thrasher has announced a ban on all fraternities and sororities following the death of a student after a house party Friday.

“I want to send a serious message, I really do,” said Thrasher. “We’ve got a serious problem.”

FSU student, 20-year-old Andrew Coffey of Pompano Beach was found unresponsive at about 10:25 a.m. Friday, the morning after a house party about a mile from campus. Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity pledge, was given medical treatment but died on the scene.

Of the FSU undergraduates, 22% belong to a Greek organization, that’s 7,588 students for the 2017-2018 school year.

All fraternity and sorority chapters are prohibited from holding new member events, chapter meetings, chapter organized tailgates, socials, philanthropy, retreats, intramurals and organized participation in Market Wednesday and Homecoming,

A ban on alcohol has also been issued at all Recognized Student Organization events during the interim suspension.

The death came at the outset of Parents’ Weekend, a time when the university hosts thousands of families and showcases its campus.

There are countless deaths attributed to alcohol use by students throughout the nation. In a list of Recent Alcohol-Related Student Deaths, the death of Natalie Baine in 2013 was the most recent reported death of an University of Alabama student.

Natalie lost her life when the truck in which she was riding crashed while returning to campus after a football bowl game. Natalie’s family filed a lawsuit claiming the student driver was in no condition to drive since he was exhausted after spending several days in Miami where they spent their nights clubbing and drinking on South Beach and barely slept at all.

Abuse of alcohol by under-aged students is widespread at the University of Alabama. The Fusion documentary “The Naked Truth: Frat Power” included the University of Alabama in its coverage of hazing and underage alcohol consumption.

Alcohol fueled “hazing” at the University of Alabama has sent students to UAB’s burn unit. Pledges were forced to stand in coolers filled with ice and rock salt in a “salt and ice and challenge” as reported by’s Jeremy Gray:

Court documents detail how the three pledges came to suffer second and third degree burns that sent them to UAB Hospital and five active members of The University of Alabama fraternity chapter to jail.

When the challenge ended, Gray reported “after the pledge stood in the ice and went to the ‘newboy closet’ to recover from ‘frost bite,'” one of the fraternity brothers “stepped on the pledge’s feet and told him to ‘man up.'”

The University of Alabama has strict policies against under aged drinking and hazing. But like many other schools there are major problems associated with both hazing and heavy drinking.

A report written by Rob Turrisi , Kimberly A Mallett, Nadine R Mastroleo and Mary Larimer “Heavy Drinking in College Students: Who Is at Risk and What Is Being Done About It?” states that:

Problem drinking and related consequences are a major social issue plaguing college campuses across the United States. Each year, alcohol is responsible for fatalities, assaults, serious injuries, and arrests that occur among college students.

Twenty years of research has revealed that the highest proportion of heavy drinkers and individuals with diagnosable alcohol-use disorders and multiple substance dependencies are in the age range encompassing over 90% of all enrolled college students, the majority of these individuals being between the ages of 18 and 21.

Alcohol drinkers are more likely to have been insulted by others; been confronted with unwanted sexual advances; been a victim of date rape or sexual assault; been in a serious argument or quarrel; been pushed, hit, or assaulted; had their property damaged; been in a situation where they had unplanned sexual activity; put themselves in situations where they were more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV; been injured or had life-threatening experiences; driven while intoxicated, or ridden in a car with an intoxicated driver.

One recent victim of hazing was Chun Hsien (Michael) Deng whose death was reported in The New York Times article “What a Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About the Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity” by Jay Caspian Kang.

Deng was running “the Gauntlet” as a Pi Delta Psi initiate at the City University of New York. He died from “multiple traumatic injuries to the head”  The delay in his treatment after repeatedly being slammed to the ground ‘‘significantly contributed’’ to his death.

Inside Hazing has reported on numerous hazing incidents throughout the nation. The culture of hazing is ubiquitous.  There are horror stories at schools such as Ohio State, Penn State, and  Hofstra University.

Cornell University’s  “Alcohol & Hazing” explained the dynamic involved with hazing and alcohol use:

While hazing does not necessarily involve alcohol use by either current or new members, often alcohol consumption is either a central or contributing element.

Some fatal cases of hazing have been labeled as episodes of “binge drinking,” a term that suggests that the students who died of alcohol poisoning just used poor judgment and did not know when to stop drinking. It is more accurate to refer to such episodes as “ritualized drinking” in which there is systematic pressure applied to vulnerable new members that leads them to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol.  

A common argument in defense of groups that pressure new members to drink is that they do not “force anyone to drink.” Comments such as “No one poured it down their throats,” and “They could have walked out at any time” ignore the reality of coercive power in groups and the fact that psychological force can be as strong as physical force.  

Heavy drinking can also lead to a wide range of negative consequences such as injuries and memory loss. It can also contribute to being sexually victimized.

The Addiction Center website has this to say about drinking and Greek life:

While the Greek system provides social and professional benefits to college students, its members are also much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs than their non-Greek affiliated peers. There are several possible reasons that being involved with a fraternity or sorority makes students more likely to drink or do drugs, including:

Peer pressure is hard to avoid when it’s around you at all times. Students living on campus are more likely to drink or do drugs. This likelihood goes up even more in Greek housing.

Fraternities, sororities and even athletic teams and other clubs may include some form of hazing as part of their membership initiation rituals. Hazing nearly always involves alcohol to some extent. In the worst of cases, hazing can lead to alcohol poisoning, accidents and even death.

In many cases, there are no resident assistants or rule enforcers in Greek housing to keep drinking levels down. Leaders of fraternities and sororities are upperclassmen who are still young people themselves. Additionally, campus officials may be willing to look the other way on Greek-sanctioned activities because of the positive economic impact of having certain fraternities or sororities represented at their school.

Because many college students pledge Greek organizations in the hope of establishing a strong social bond, they can be especially vulnerable to the social pressures that come with membership. If a student believes that binge drinking or drug use will make them seem more fun or cool, they are more likely to do so.

Many substances are abused on campuses with Greek organizations, but alcohol is easily the one that causes the most concern. Binge drinking is far more common among the Greeks than non-affiliated students.

4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.

– A Harvard University study

Binge drinking contributes to some of the highest rates of accidents, sexual assaults, emergency room visits and deaths on college campuses. It isn’t just the drinkers facing the consequences either. Approximately 83 percent of Greek housing residents report having suffered as a result of their brothers’ and sisters’ alcohol consumption.

Members of both fraternities and sororities are at a higher risk for binge drinking and drug use than the rest of the college population. However, research suggests young men are more likely to drink excessively than young women are. Men are also more likely than their female counterparts to engage in risky or dangerous activities or feel pressured by male competition.

There seems to be a reluctance at the University of Alabama to challenge any aspect of Greek life. When Greek interference in a municipal election was orchestrated by The Machine on campus, there was no immediate condemnation by the Administration. The use of alcohol by under aged students at the campus is prohibited, but allowed to illegally take place at the Greek mansions built on state owned property throughout the academic year.

The answer as to whether Greek life would ever be banned at the University of Alabama is not hard to imagine.


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