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Suspending fraternities and sororities affects surrounding community, too

Fraternities and sororities should have more constructive consequences than just suspension or expulsion, which do not teach them why their actions were wrong, their true magnitude or how to prevent future deaths. More hands-on learning experiences should be implemented to create better bonds and community impact. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Matt Ellis, a new member of Texas State University’s Phi Kappa Psi, died on Nov. 14 after the fraternity’s initiation process, according to the university. Two days later, all Greek life at the university was prohibited. This suspension will be detrimental to the communities that they serve, as well as the brother and sisterhoods.

The rushing process for fraternities and sororities has often been criticized for including hazing, the punishment of which can result in suspension or expulsion of the Greek organization.

Even though suspension, which can make an example of badly behaving organizations, may seem like an easy fix, it prevents other groups from contributing charitable work. That is most of the reason these fraternities and sororities exist — not just to bring together a group of like-minded people, but to also progress their chapter, brother and sisterhoods forward and give back to their respective communities.

According to its website, “the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity engages men of integrity, further develops their intellect and enhances community involvement.” Its mission is rooted in helping the community, and the suspension would stop them from doing such.

This is not just exclusive to Phi Kappa Psi. Michala Padgett, a double major in marketing and retailing and consumer science, is a member of UH Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Part of the sorority’s purpose is “to be a service to all mankind.”

An eradication of their philanthropic work on any campus will then trickle down into the community.

“It would be significantly detrimental, not just from my sorority, but in general,” Padgett said. “Certain sororities focus on just breast or lung cancer awareness, so all that they do would not be seen anymore.”

This is not to say that Ellis should be forgotten. His death is a tragedy, and the circumstances that led to it should be made aware across Texas State’s campus. The consequences that the Greek life participants face, however, should be up for debate, not what I perceive as the quick fix of suspension.

A more constructive consequence could be that fraternities and sororities must implement more comprehensive risk-management programs to keep new pledges safe.

“We have a whole committee dedicated to risk management and workshops,” Padgett said about UH. “At the end of the day, it is about the brotherhood, the sisterhood and the community service.”

If they have not already, the fraternities could raise funds to help cover the funeral costs of the deceased and show at least some remorse. They could also have meetings with the heads of the university’s Greek Affairs office.

I reached out to Jason Bergeron, director of UH’s Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, for comment, but he was unavailable until after press time.

They could also host events to explain the purpose of Greek life. This would cut through the misconception and allow them to brand themselves in a more public eye. In this, they can express how they help the community and the students that attend the events.

Greek life is more than just parties with two colors and keg stands. Its organizations plan events that impact where their communities and offer resources to the students they walk among as well.

Its purpose is to grow bonds with people who will be lifelong friends in professional and personal aspects. Each organization has different things that they focus on, whether it be friendship and scholarship in Sigma Alpha Epsilon, service and integrity in Alpha Phi Alpha or enhancing community involvement in Phi Kappa Psi.

Opinion editor Dana C. Jones is a print journalism junior. He can be reached at [email protected].

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