All Articles Tagged "banning fraternities"
Marie Lourdes André is suing the fraternity that killed her only son, George Desdunes, who died during a hazing ritual at Cornell University on February 25, 2011. She claims that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity kidnapped him, forced him to drink to the point that his blood alcohol level was five times the legal driving limit, left him bound on a sofa for hours, and then tried to cover their tracks by removing the binds. The bereaved mother hopes her $25 million law suit against the frat will inspire much tougher regulation of frat houses and their absurdly dangerous hazing practices. It would give some purpose to the meaningless loss of her son’s life.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon had already come under fire at Cornell for its hazing manual which included “requiring new members to clean vomit out of a car, purchase illegal drugs and perform sex acts,” according to court documents reviewed by the New York Post. As Desdunes was a new member, he was forced to engage in similar self-destructive activities that tragically cost him his life. The Post describes this poor man’s last night — and the legal consequences of Desdunes’ death:
He was bound and quizzed about SAE lore, because members are required to know as much about the fraternity as new pledges are expected to learn, the suit says.
Members who miss a question are “compelled to drink alcohol, often while blindfolded and tied up,” according to court papers
“Hazing is wrong, immoral and extremely dangerous to the well-being of the fraternity members,” said lawyer William Friedlander, who filed the suit yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Business Insider adds that since the untimely death of George Desdunes, “Cornell forced the frat to vacate the house and the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization shut down the Cornell chapter.” At least one formal step has been taken to administer justice. But it is not enough.
George Desdunes was a quiet soul, who loved church and majored in biology. His mother did not send him away to die. Hopefully, her $25 million law suit will terrify colleges, fraternal organizations, and the students engaging in these rituals to rethink their tolerance and perpetuation of brutal behavior. Common sense and compassion alone are not enough.
It’s a question that author Caitlin Flanagan, who believes that frat houses are the most malevolent of male power institutions, answers with a resounding yes.
Recently, Flanagan penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal about rape on college campuses, or more specifically, incidents of rape that involve drinking and fraternities. She cites a 2007 National Institute of Justice study, which concluded that fraternity men who tend to drink more heavily and frequently than non-members are more likely to perpetrate sexual assault than non-fraternity men. Said Flanagan, “The Greek system is dedicated to quelling young men’s anxiety about submitting themselves to four years of sissy-pants book learning by providing them with a variety of he-man activities: drinking, drugging, ESPN watching and the sexual mistreatment of women.”
Honestly, I don’t think I could disagree with her on that point. In my opinion, it’s really simple: if a particularly fraternity—or sorority for that matter—continues to be a source of sexual assault or other forms of violence, then they do not need to exist on a college campus.
However, what Flanagan is suggesting goes beyond scrutinizing the lack of accountability that colleges and universities place on fraternity organizations. What she is actually suggesting is that the entire Greek system helps to encourage the mindset that violence and mistreatment of women is okay. I’m not very certain of that.
However, Flanagan is not alone in her assessment of Greek-letter organizations. Samantha Wishman recently wrote a similar piece for the Daily Beast, in which she argues that a double standard exists between fraternities and sororities on college campuses. While fraternities are allowed to “party” without fear of being subjected to disciplinary action when they commit serious criminal offenses, sororities, on the other hand, are intensively scrutinized by their national organizations for even minor infractions, such as holding parties with alcohol.
In her piece, Wishman highlights an incident when 16 Yale students filed a complaint against the university for violating Title IX—“alleging that Yale had failed to curb a hostile sexual environment” for women on campus,” including an incident where pledges from Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity harassed women students chanting phrases such as “F—ing sluts,” and “No means yes, yes means anal” during their initiation rite.
Certainly, some fraternity organizations do give way to some pretty, immature and downright criminal behavior. With thousands of fraternity chapters in the U.S. alone, it only stands to reason that some of its membership would lack a certain moral compass. But to suggest that the actions of a few reflect the actions of all others fraternities is too broad of an indictment.