Letter from the Editor Opinion Uncategorized

Letter from the Editor: Hazing or no hazing, is there a place for fraternities on today’s campuses?

Sigma Chi

Whether or not the allegations against Sigma Chi are true, it’s time to talk about whether today’s fraternities can rid themselves of a murky history. | File photo/The Cougar

This isn’t about whether or not they did it.

The hazing allegations that have rattled the Epsilon Xi chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity aren’t the first of their kind in the world of frats, and they almost certainly won’t be the last. But regardless of the verdict, there’s still a larger conversation to be had.

We need to examine the usefulness of a culture that, for one reason or another, always seems to be facing racist and sexist allegations. The most obvious question is this: Should fraternity culture continue to exist on college campuses at all?

To be fair, it’s tough to think of another organization that’s faced such widespread, almost homogenous adversity as fraternities, who have struggled to change the public’s perception of their culture.

On a national scale, Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s “A Rape on Campus” strengthened the perception that fraternity houses are dangerous places for women. While a later investigation proved the alleged assault may not have happened as the source described, it catalyzed a conversation on campus rape that had been brimming beneath the surface. Specifically, it reminded us of the fact that despite “A Rape on Campus”‘s questionable validity, a very real 86 percent of off-campus college rapes happen at fraternity houses, and fraternity men are three times more likely to rape than non-fraternity members.

Most recently, the leaked video of University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing a racist chant containing the n-word has the Internet up in arms. The suspension of UH’s Sigma Chi has veered the national conversation off rape and onto a larger subject: what fraternities truly bring to the table — aside from the networking opportunities, of course, that clearly can’t be offered from academic organizations or other student societies.

Despite fraternities occupying little more than three percent of the student population at UH, it’s time for us to partake in a examination of Greek culture.

Why are these allegations so believable? To me, it’s because these organizations have historically operated under discriminatory, sexist legislations, and it’s tough for something that’s existed for nearly 200 years to fundamentally change its ways. That’s a challenge in itself, but it’s not to say that there aren’t fraternities out there that are trying to rewrite their rulebook and evolve into something more inclusive. We just don’t hear about those frats — we hear about the staggering statistics that point in the direction of fraternities not being safe environments for women or certain pledges.

Maybe Sigma Chi is one of them — a frat that’s trying to make an impactful difference on campus through philanthropy. If we can prove that, then great, but these allegations make that positive spin a much more difficult angle to add into the national dialogue, and it’s not justification enough that fraternities aren’t harmful.

There are still a whole lot of rapes, hazes and assaults tied to one of college’s most historically controversial cultures.

                 -Cara Smith, editor in chief

Editor’s note: Additional information was added to provide clarification on the link between fraternities and rape.


  • A little confused on if you believe the same thing about other organizations that have historically been tied to racism, sexual assualt, and hazing (such as the military) or if you’re just out to get “frats”. (By the way, the correct term to use would be fraternity, not frat, because the real world greek system is not a Jimmy Tatro movie.) Every organization that runs in the thousands has bad eggs, whether it’s the military, a professional sports team, or the greek system. Saying we should get rid of it altogether because of a few select asinine people in a few select chapters doing something despicable is as bad as saying we need to get rid if all organised groups in large numbers (such as professional or amateur sports or the military) because of their past and potential future discretions. Life isn’t best handled with the “easy fix”, and as you clearly don’t fully understand the system yourself, please do some research into what greeks are doing in this day and age to improve what’s wrong with the system before you write an opinion piece like this.

  • Greek organizations raise MILLIONS for charities every year. They provide leadership opportunities, learning experiences, and a support system for members throughout their time in college and after graduation. There have been many studies that prove the average GPA of members of Greek organizations are higher than the average GPA of entire campuses and a recent study showed women in Panhellenic sororities had a higher graduation rate than the average female student. There are definitely instances of hazing and poor decision making that need to be addressed and eradicated, but college-aged people make poor decisions whether they’re in a Greek organization or not. So to say that these kinds of things are only done by Greeks is completely incorrect. Acts such as hazing or rape are not encouraged by our organizations’ values and creeds and do not reflect the standards we hold our members to.

    • Do frat boys join fraternities to sleep around, or to do charity? You don’t need to join a fraternity to be charitable. The idea that somehow the negatives of fraternities are outweighed by “philanthropy” is ludicrous. The negatives of fraternities outweigh the donations (which are small, compared to other groups), and I’d be glad to see them not be part of the college system. You attend a university to be educated, not to pay for friends and act like a moron.

      • Funny that you use the word “moron” when the average GPA of students in Greek organizations is higher GPA than the national average. Please tell me how much money other campus organizations raised for their respective causes last year. Because I can name many UH fraternities and sororities who raised over $20,000 for charities such as the Make A Wish Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, Huntsman Cancer Foundation, etc. And that’s just their individual chapter; nationally these organizations raise millions. Members don’t pay for friends, they pay for the upkeep of their organizations on a national level, social events, networking, T-shirts, participation in campus events such as homecoming, and rent for their houses where meetings are held and memories are made. If we’re going to claim that the only purpose of going to college is to be educated then we’d have to get rid of ALL campus organizations, athletics, and generally anything extracurricular that might enrich a student’s college experience. I find it sad that you have such a narrow and negative view of what members of Greek organizations are like and I’m sorry if the only encounters you’ve had with students in the Greek community were negative ones.

        • This response is the best I’ve ever seen to narrow minded hate fueled anti Greek statements. Wonderfully put.

  • I think what this article is saying is this:, those millions of dollars raised, those networking connections, all the benefits that come from/through fraternities can be achieved/accomplished without being in a fraternity in which case your left with the difference = an organization that does good things(the same good things that people do without being in the organization) and uses those things to justify a community where hazing and other like activities are “tolerated” or even justified because of its “benefits”. I’m not in a fraternity and have nothing against those who decide to join them, I believe there are good ones out there; however I do agree that you don’t have to be apart of a fraternity for its connections and good works, all those things are capable of being done outside of the fraternity so at that point the question remains; if the same benefits can be achieved without joining a fraternity, what do people really join for?

    • I’m not sure if you read the below persons comment, but greeks do NOT tolerate hazing or justify it. It is in our creed and values that we do not tolerate those things, if you want an example just look at how Nationals handles any situation that arises (such as SAE Nationals suspending all of the memberships of those SAE at OU immediately after that incident). Slumping all individuals in one group and labeling them “bad” is lazy and not fixing the problem.

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