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UK Letter (University of Kentucky): Fraternities not comprised of ‘better men’

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Kentucky Kernel - University of Kentucky

UK fraternities not comprised of ‘better men’

Opinions: This letter is a response to a Feb. 2 column titled “Greeks influence campus positively.”

February 5, 2012

Posted by: Opinions

Raising money for charity is a positive reflection of fraternities and sororities for UK.

Community service hours are another positive reflection of fraternities and sororities for UK.

Wrapping a young man in toilet paper and setting him on fire? Is this a positive reflection of fraternities and sororities for UK?

Sigma Alpha Epsilon received the boot from campus for good reason. Other fraternities that received either sanctions or suspensions were given those for good reason as well.

Underage drinking in the fraternity house? Selling drugs out of the fraternity house? Come on, guys.

I know a thing or two about being in real fraternity. I was a president of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and a member of the Freemasons, and these men are not setting a good example for the younger generation, or the “new guys” as Delta Tau Delta President Brandon Butler said in his deft explanation of how the sanctions affected his fraternity in the related Dec. 1 article.

The relation to dorm life is also utterly ridiculous. In a dorm, the person in the room next to you isn’t your sworn brother and does not have any responsibility to make sure you are representing yourself and your organization with pride.

The boys of SAE claim to be “True Gentlemen,” until they need a laugh, I guess.

In the end, fraternities need to realize they add little actual value to campus as a whole. They may mean a great deal in the sorority circle but that, too, is a small part of campus.

Fraternity means brotherhood, looking out for your brother, helping to raise your brother and if your brother is caught forcing someone to drink until they puke, you are just as liable because you didn’t stop it.

Grow up, little boys. Take your punishment, learn from it and do what many of your charters claim your mission is and “become better men.”

Tristan Root is a history junior. Email opinions@kykernel.com.

17 Responses to UK fraternities not comprised of ‘better men’

February 5, 2012 - 4:57 pm
Well whether you wanted to or not you further pointed out the authors statement in which you are responding to. Delta tau delta sold drugs out of their house and got probation. Saw lit a guy on fire and got kicked out. Now is uk saying lighting a guy on fire is worse than selling drugs? I doubt it. I think that is an example of the double standard that the author of the previous article was pointing out.

February 5, 2012 - 11:03 pm
Has no member of sinfonia or masonry ever been arrested or done anything immoral? Does that make them any less a fraternity in your mind? Does the internal work of their organization cease to have merit because one member or one group of members did something wrong? While I think your experiences are an apples and oranges comparison to normal fraternities, they should be sufficient for you to recognize the flaw in your logic.

Let me put it this way, if one of your mason brothers got a DUI, should the state sue the grand lodge to force your lodge to be dissolved while prosecuting all members regardless if they were there or not? That’s ludicrous right? When a football player gets arrested, no one calls for the whole program to be abolished and facilities seized. If a freshman is caught drinking in the dorms, they don’t close the dorm, prosecute all residents, and fire the hall director. Everyone agrees there must be reasonable rules, enforced through reasonable tactics, by reasonable people in order to reach some semblance of justice. That is not remotely what has been occurring. These people have been targeted for abusive conduct by well meaning administrators who do not understand that their impractical absolutism has unintended consequences that make things much worse and more dangerous.

You should look at the contributions of Greeks to this University. While small in percentage, they have a massive impact. They are the bulk of leaders. They prop up the GPA, retention, and graduation rates of the whole school. They do an enormous amount of philanthropic work. Behind closed doors they are making not just better men, but men focused on a concrete change the world mission that your experience lacks. And, as they move beyond college they become responsible for an enormous amount of money that makes higher education possible. There presence and influence in the legislature determines funding.
February 6, 2012 - 12:27 am
Well put Jason and I guarantee that 99% of the comments will not answer your questions and try to circumvent your main point and go off on a tangent
February 6, 2012 - 11:22 am
You obviously do not understand the subtleties of labels. If you are hanging out with your buddies watching the game, have a few drinks, drive home, and get a DUI, that’s you on your own; but on the other hand, if you’re partying with your brothers, have a few drinks, drive home, and get a DUI, that’s completely different.

When you say, “My name is Jason and I’m a [insert label here]…” you are attributing your actions to whatever your label is, you will be perceived that way, you will be received that way. If you say you are at a restaurant with your church and are drunk, people will be appalled; but, if you were with the same friends but not under the label of the youth group and are drunk, you’ll be just fine.

The point is that when you say you are Greek and you raise a lot of money, have a decent enough GPA to get by, and perform community service (these are the only qualities that are advertised as positive Greek qualities) you lend a good reflection of yourself and your brothers to the UK community, as many people have pointed out. But, if you say you are Greek and you exhibit these qualities, but you also partake in, or let happen, serious hazing and/or drunken sexual debauchery (date rape, gang rape, etc) you are doing nothing but destroying everything your forebrothers have worked so hard to build. All it takes is one bad apple and the entire bushel is ruined. One mistake can, and will, break a great reputation. SAE should never be allowed to return for fostering an environment that encourages their members to set someone on fire, raise a puppy for a week and kill it, put their pledges in cages and piss on them, or any other sick story that probably gives some people a good laugh, and make others want to puke.

I hope this helps to enlighten you and supplement the short article I could write for the print version.
February 6, 2012 - 12:26 pm
Sorry you didn’t get a bid Tristan.
February 6, 2012 - 1:20 pm
You are retarded!
February 6, 2012 - 1:49 pm
haha killing a puppy…. seriously? pissing on people… seriously? Were you in SAE? Have you even been in their house?? Do you know anything about SAE or any other fraternity for that matter? Do you know someone at UK that has been “gang raped” as you so eloquently put it? Or are you just regurgitating stupid rumors that you have heard. Come to think of it I heard freemasons “gang rape” small children!! Now just because I said that does that make it true? Of course not. So I recommend you use common sense and filter out the truth from rumor when you suggest things such as this. And I would also like to know if someone is an idiot and drives home drunk how that reflects on a whole organization? If my name is Desmond and I would for IBM and I am out partying with my coworkers and get a DUI is IBM forced to stop doing business just bc one idiot made a bad decision? And as I knew you would you did not address Jason’s comment. Has a mason never been arrested? Has a member of Sinfonia never been arrested. If so “the whole bushel is ruined” and masons should not be allowed to have a club.
February 6, 2012 - 4:10 pm
Tristan, outward perception may at times seem reality to the mob, but is not the truth.

“If you are hanging out with your buddies watching the game, have a few drinks, drive home, and get a DUI, that’s you on your own; but on the other hand, if you’re partying with your brothers, have a few drinks, drive home, and get a DUI, that’s completely different.”

See, because the law says it’s not. There is no law that says the fellow member of an org owes you a special duty of care or that you will go to jail if you don’t do what your brother tells you. Brotherhood may mean something important to us inside our orgs (spiritually/emotionally to us personally), but here in the real world you don’t have any more authority over your brother than any other friend. Replace fraternity brother with actual brother and tell me the law that says your relative should be held personally accountable for your misconduct.

Yes, when a fraternity member does something stupid it has the potential to make both the fraternity and the University look bad. That’s PR, and PR is not the basis of disciplinary policy. When those things happen, you need a legitimate system of justice based on evidence & fairness, not perception and vengeance. The fraternity internally should take action toward the offender based on their rules/standards; and, the university should hold the individual accountable with the student justice system just like any other student. It is supposed to be a system focused on rehabilitative education. That’s not what actually occurs.

Instead, the focus is on revenge for bad PR, or the potential for it. Most commonly, the University takes little to no action against the offender. Instead, they demand the blood of the organization. It doesn’t matter if it was an unsanctioned activity, if the org had any knowledge of it, or any legal or practical authority to stop it. It only matters that guy X did something wrong and he was in fraternity Y so fraternity Y is getting hammered.

While fundamentally wrong and in serious need of reform, the problem is bigger than just that. This ill conceived policy is taken still a step further by overzealous staff. The University is not only determining guilt by association and disregarding education in favor of revenge, but it is applying the word “proactive.” It is proactively targeting any organization with the perceived potential to create negative PR, and using any underhanded invasive and unacceptable tactic possible to search out the opportunity to prosecute even minor offenses & technicalities in hopes they can take them down before anything serious enough for media attention happens.

Penn State got a huge black eye this Fall over a pedophile ex-coach. They actually did know for years that it was going on, did have authority to stop it, and did have legal duty to intervene, yet chose not to for PR reasons. When the cat got out of the bag, they fired (retired) some key leaders that were on the way out anyway, but no one is saying abolish the athletic dept. It is understood, that while bad things sometimes happen, that the athletic dept is a vital part of the University. It brings in enormous income and theoretically at least makes better men/women (athletes). The exact same thing is true of the Greek community. In fact, I would say the Greek community does exponentially more to make better men/women than does any sports team, and Greek alumni on a national level are responsible for roughly 70% of all donations to higher education.

Juxtapose those things together for me and then tell me what a world would look like if words like freedom and justice were the truth. That’s all any of us is asking for – equal protection, equal justice, equal enforcement. Hold individuals accountable for their actions. Don’t hold organizations responsible unless it is an official act of the organization, or at very least when they knew about and had the authority to stop it. Treat all students the same regardless of what org they might be in. Treat all orgs the same regardless if it is the French club or SAE. Don’t fund a staff of people responsible targeting one group over another, and restrain your staff to reasonable behavior. Follow your own rules. Firm but fair is fine. Targeting groups and making it up as you go is not.
February 6, 2012 - 4:23 pm
You’re a faggot Tristan.
Go Geek not Greek
February 6, 2012 - 8:26 pm
It’s really too bad that for every Jason, John, and Desmond who at least logically try to defend themselves and stand up for what they believe in, there’s a Jack, RUSH PIKE, and Jerry who destroy all that hard work by name calling, using inappropriate slurs, and exhibiting attitudes of unfounded superiority.

This is a micro-example of what goes on in groups like frats. Some of the fratsters are going along, putting in their service hours, raising some money, getting decent grades, getting drunk on the weekends…acting like a lot of other college students, Greek or not. They are generally productive human beings. There are even a few of them that excel as campus leaders. Sure they may hold themselves in higher esteem than they really deserve, but their biggest crime is wearing button down pastels.

Then one guy sets a dude on fire and it all goes to hell.

This is how it works people. When you are a member of a group, one member’s actions can threaten the whole group. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not just fraternities. Don’t play the victim.
John February 6, 2012 - 8:45 pm Go Greek please tell me one other organization besides fraternities that get rid of the group when the individual is at fault.
February 7, 2012 - 11:42 am
Geek, I’m fairly certain those people aren’t Greeks and are just trying to stir the pot. That you would take them seriously is just silly.

A fraternity has no actual authority over what members do outside official event of the org. There is no way they can monitor or control the behavior of every single member 24/7. Even if they could, that is not their job.

When you erase individual accountability and prosecute orgs for things over which they have no control then it defeats the purpose. Members see it as an unfounded attack in the overall war the school chooses to wage against them. Members don’t go through life thinking they have to behave in order to keep the org they love from being unfairly prosecuted, and orgs don’t crack down on member behavior hoping to avoid trouble with the school. Targeting groups has nearly zero impact on individual behavior. All it does is put orgs in the position of protecting themselves by covering up and/or defending behavior they might otherwise find reprehensible. Policies like this destroy the moral fabric we try to weave. No one is playing a victim. We are being victimized. If you could spend some time on this side of the fence, I think you’d be shocked and appalled at the way Greeks are routinely treated by universities. It is far worse than the all the stereotypes we endure. It’s little wonder that Greeks often turn inward and act superior – it’s a defense mechanism from the assault they’re under.

And, there is nothing wrong with a good button down pastel.
February 8, 2012 - 5:00 pm
Just at a glance of this discussion (and especially the last article), it objectively seems that some of the people who comment against fraternities somehow felt they were wronged by a fraternity along the way. I honestly can’t fault the Greek man or woman who made the comment ‘Well, you OBVIOUSLY didn’t get a bid’ – if you were in a fraternity, you would know what it’s like to have to tell someone they didn’t get enough votes to join, didn’t make grades, can’t afford dues, etc. Within 2 weeks of walking out the front door of the House, like clockwork, the disgruntled gentleman will get a job with or write a scathing article for the Kernel about Greek life and how he was so ‘wronged’ and attempts to conveys his situation an a accurate microcosm of Greek life (it’s not). (NOTE: When I say ‘like clockwork’ I don’t speak with the hyperbole of the previous writers. In my 5 years at this university, my organization, to my knowledge, has let 3 guys go over that period of time… and each of the three felt it necessary to write an article in the Kernel about their woeful life and how mean we were to them.)

Whether or not that person actually ‘didn’t get a bid’ or ‘got balled’ is irrelevant; popping off like a child and categorizing all Greeks as ‘rapist’, ‘drug abusers’, ‘problem drinkers’, or that we are all ‘riding daddy’s coattails’ propagates the already very poor opinion of independents among Greeks. ‘That guy is mad because he didn’t get in’ is the only rational response one could summon when independents start these unprovoked attacks on Greeks. I mean, did a Greek writer pop off a pejorative column about how independents ‘add very little’ to campus or dare call them ‘little boys’? (I don’t want to speak for all Greeks, but the writer better be damn glad he didn’t make the ‘little boys’ comment within my earshot)

My entire point is this: if you really think Greeks provide ‘little actual value’ to campus, then stop wasting your time bloviating about how ‘bad’, ‘immoral’, or otherwise ‘worthless’ you think we are. The only rational conclusion one can make from such a poorly-written, unprovoked attack on Greek life is that, somehow, the writer feels wronged. Rhetoric like this only sharpens the divide between the Greek and independent and most negatively affects the ordinary independent who CHOSE to be an independent.

So please, save your mud for other, more deserving targets like the faulty government in Frankfort, the football coaching staff, or the aloof Deans who reign on high atop their Ivory towers. Hell, write about how terrible the basketball lottery system is. Leave Greek life alone – don’t act so lugubrious when someone calls you a GDI because you continually slander our institution.
February 9, 2012 - 12:37 am

Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo were individuals who messed up, but I seem to remember some collegiate organization that they were a part of being punished for their indiscretions. There’s just one example for you.
February 9, 2012 - 10:50 am
I think all the members of the Greek Society should read their Charters. Most Greek Organizations were founded for brotherhood and charity for the community. I hate to say this: “21st Century Greek Members have much less maturity than those of the 19th and early 20th centuries.” Getting back to the roots of Greek Society should be the focus of todays boys to make the transformation to good men.
February 9, 2012 - 4:57 pm
@McKinney, encouraging those divisions may well be the aim of such disgruntled people and those they win to their cause. My problem with this author is his attempt to claim superiority of his fraternal orgs over ours while applying very different standards; and, using that to say our beliefs and orgs are a sham. It is difficult to be more disrespectful or insulting than that.

@Zach, the NCAA exists to maintain fair competition. Those universities were punished because they got an unfair advantage from severe rule breakers. And, in some cases knew about it and did not prevent it. The action by the NCAA is meant to re-level the playing field – to be fair to other schools who did not benefit from cheaters. When those same athletes commit a criminal offense, there is no punishment on the school. The purpose of a university in regard to a Greek system is not about fair competition, and orgs are not being targeted because they gained an advantage from the illegal or immoral conduct of an individual acting outside their role as a member. They are targeted because someone greater than the individual has to be held responsible for bad PR, and the University is not about to take that blame on themselves.

@Smith, I know of very few Greek orgs founded on charity for the community. Every org I know is based on a religious or secular based value set leading to a philosophy for life, and they exist solely to spread those beliefs or the impact of those beliefs to the world. Brotherhood is an offshoot of people of shared values united in such a purpose. While important, it is more fleeting than the actual mission. Charity is not a bad way for good people to extend their message, but it isn’t in & of itself a stated purpose for most.
February 9, 2012 - 5:32 pm

Well put. Couldnt have said it better myself. Anyway I still am putting forth a challenge to name one example of when an organization was punished/eliminated because of the actions of an individual.

Further Reading:

The F.·.W.·. 'Tyler'