After a student was found without a pulse in a West Virginia University fraternity house on Nov. 12, the university suspended all Greek life activities.
Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 22, the University of Virginia suspended its Greek life following the publishing of a Rolling Stone article detailing the rape of a student in 2012.
Business Insider reports that freshman Nolan Michael Burch, 18, who was found without a pulse in the Kappa Sigma house at WVU on Nov. 12, died on Nov. 14.
More legal troubles have arisen for Greek life at WVU following the suspension of Greek activity. The Interfraternity Council and WVU suspended Sigma Chi and cited six students for hazing that occurred Nov. 6, according to a Huffington Post report. WVU reports that there are plans to bring in a national facilitator to work on solutions for the Greek life issues. UVA also said that the school plans to take serious steps toward resolving the issues of sexual violence in light of the accusations in the Rolling Stone article.
“I think the fraternity system probably has one chance to fix itself,” Paul Wright, former head of the UVA Fraternity Alumni Association said in a Washington Post article written by Steve Hendrix, T. Rees Shapiro and Mary Pat Flaherty. “If we don’t get this right, people are going to ask for fraternities to be banned, and they are going to have a point.”
As these situations continue to develop, questions about Greek life and its role in a collegiate setting grow in prominence across the nation and at Shepherd University, and many students have voiced their opinions on the matter.
“Schools across America seem to find it easy to dump Greek life entirely without realizing the large amount of positives that we Greeks bring. School administrators and students learn about Greek life through socialized and prejudice views brought on by the media that portray Greeks as being the sole source for partying, hazing and cruelty,” senior environmental science major Joshua Hypes, brother of Lambda Chi Alpha, said. “Yet this is not the case at all for most Greek organizations. I have been a Lambda Chi Alpha brother for three years at Shepherd University and have noticed exactly the opposite of these negative views. We raise money for cancer research, shovel snow for the community when the elderly cannot leave their driveway, raise food for shelters and much more. Greeks at Shepherd University play a huge role in the community, much more than most realize. I am proud to be a Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity brother and a member of the Greek community at Shepherd University.”
Junior business administration major and Delta Zeta sister Lisa Jaffe said that she felt that the problems at these schools do not reflect Greek life as a whole.
“Since I do not attend WVU or UVA, I would rather not comment on the shutting down of Greek life at these universities,” said Jaffe. “However, as a new member of Delta Zeta, I have not experienced any hazing and therefore I do not think the actions at these universities should impact Greek life in America.”
Senior history major Tyler Hulton and member of Lambda Chi Alpha at Shepherd said that he thought the choice to suspend Greek activity at WVU and UVA was an unfortunate one.
“While there are Greek organizations that still haze and do stupid and harmful things, I think it is unreasonable to punish all of them for the actions of the few,” said Hulton. “I think it is especially unreasonable considering all of the good that Greek organizations do. Overall for Greek life, this is just continued bad press for it. It will hurt it, and these types of events will continue to hurt it unless Greek organizations as a whole work together to fix their image.”
“If people cannot be responsible enough to handle being a part of Greek life, then I agree with the decision to shut those programs down. From what I understand, being a part of a certain fraternity or sorority means upholding characteristics that are deemed important by that group,” said sophomore biology and Spanish major Kiera Kale. “I feel bad for those members of Greek life that are responsible and do what is expected of them, and after instances like what happened at WVU and UVA, they are looked down upon,” she continued. “I am not really a part of Greek life at Shepherd, but it seems to me that the students here know how to handle being a part of Greek life,” Kale said.
Sophomore junior music education major Ashley Hall said that she believes that there will be closer scrutiny of Greek life throughout America following these events.
“The groups should have been more cautious with their practices and not been so reckless. It might not be exactly fair to completely shut down Greek life at the schools just because some groups ruined it for all the others, but it’s definitely a fair punishment for the groups that were in the wrong,” Hall said. “Greek life at Shepherd seems different to me because they aren’t destructive and are rather professional about their activities,” she said.