Shepherd University students and national experts on college Greek life say that advancements in technology are making it easier for life inside a Greek community to be known, but little has changed over the years.
“The only difference is phones,” Alan D. DeSantis, University of Kentucky professor and author of “Inside Greek U,” a 2007 book he wrote about Greek life at an undisclosed American public university with approximately 40 Greek organizations with 3,000 active members.
“These elite organizations have long been criticized for being outdated, stuck in a sexiest, and racist time. That’s unfortunately by design,” DeSantis said in an article published on Feb. 25 by the Washington Post.
Shepherd University recognizes eight national fraternities and sororities including Theta Xi, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Sigma Tau, Delta Zeta, Sigma Sigma Sigma,
“It takes one mistake from one person to make the rest of Greek life look bad,” Sydney Clark, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma said. “A lot of the time people overlook all the good things that Greeks do simply because all the public hears about are all the mistakes Greeks make.”
In recent months, fraternities at universities across the country have been criticized for racist attitudes, sexual misconduct, and a party culture.
The Penn State University chapter of Kappa Delta Rho is facing criminal charges after a secret fraternity Facebook page was found that contained pictures of drug activity, hazing, and nude, unconscious women. The University of Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was banned after a video emerged online featuring fraternity members signing a racist chant.
Yale University has banned sigma Alpha Epsilon until 2016 for violations of the university policy on sexual misconduct. Duke University suspended the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity while police investigation charges of a woman being sexually assaulted at an off-campus house leased by the fraternity.
Presented with these and similar incidents, students still have a varied opinion on Shepherd’s Greek life.
“The general sentiment I get is that (fraternities at Shepherd) are annoyed with groups like SAE for giving other fraternities a bad name,” Tyler Hulton, a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity said. “We especially feel that way considering that Shepherd in general is anti-Greek, as the administration and some student body are.”
Hulton added that he wished the media would focus on the good things that Greek organizations do.
“I don’t think I’d join one, not because of the news. I’m personally not worried about frats,” Mike Goldbeck, a sophomore mass communications major said. “I think most assumptions are just inaccurate generalizations. I’d hope anyway.”
Members of fraternities and sororities at Shepherd are required to go through a hazing seminar every semester organized by Rachel Meade, director of student activities and leadership, according to Ashley Gayman, a senior music major.
According to DeSantis, fraternity selection process inhibits diversity and promotes dangerous groupthink.
“There’s never going to be someone to stand up and say, ‘We probably shouldn’t do this,’” DeSantis told the Washington Post.
“I don’t have a problem with fraternities, but I do think that a lot of them are pressured to improve their overall image due to the negative reception other fraternities around the country are receiving. It seems like a one justifies all kind of deal,” Andy Smith, a junior software engineering major said.
Smith thinks it is a good thing for fraternities to improve their image. “…as it may shine a positive light on Greek life in general and improve their society’s views of them,” Smith said.
Jamed Ferreris , sophomore biology major believes that these incidents are being reported more frequently than in the past and “things are getting more politically correct.”