I don’t want to talk about the Oklahoma incident. It is disgusting to me.
I don’t want to talk about the Michigan incident. It frustrates me.
I don’t want to talk about the Maryland incident. It is shameful.
I don’t want to talk about the negative things going on in the fraternity world. I like to focus on the positive.
However, over the past week I have had over a dozen national media outlets reach out to me for my opinion on these matters. Some want to know what the hell is going on. Some are looking for a victim to bully. Most want to know if Greek Life is worth it…
The simple fact is these are isolated incidents, and we are most definitely worth it.
There are almost 3,000 four-year colleges in the US. The NIC reports that there are almost 400,000 undergraduate members at over 6,100 chapters.
Out that many chapters, you are going to have some bad seeds. Out of 400,000 undergrads, you are going to have someone do something stupid, illegal or immoral. You would have that out of any 400,000 person subset of the population.
This absolutely doesn’t excuse the behavior of the chapters that are currently in the media. Their actions are deplorable and these people deserve everything they have coming to them. And WE need to do a better job ensuring these incidents don’t happen again.
However, to say this is a reflection on all of us is almost as deplorable. We are the leaders on our campuses. We do more good than any other group of people in our communities. Our members achieve more than their peers both academically and after graduation. To stereotype all of us with the bigots and idiots isn’t fair.
So what can we learn from the mistakes of the worst in our community?
1) The chapters who don’t live up to our values and morals will be exposed. When they are exposed it will be painful for them. However, it will benefit our community as a whole. They are a cancer. To remove a cancer you need to eradicate it completely. While it will be painful, these loser chapters getting exposed and shut down makes us all better.
2) Leaders need to lead. If there are members who aren’t living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, it is up to us to remove them. It is also up to us to pass on guys during fraternity recruitment that don’t meet those criteria. If we don’t police ourselves, we will be left to the fickle fate of social media to do our policing for us.
3) We are easy stories for the media. There are trolls out there begging for stories. They need the easy clickbait we provide. And they are willing to expose us regardless of if the stories they tell are true. See the UVA Rolling Stone story for example.
4) Nothing is private anymore. Your emails, your texts, your social media profiles and your photos can all be used against you. As long as there is a cell phone present, you might as well be in the middle of your campus. It is sad that we live in that kind of society, but we do. And everyone has enemies that are looking to expose them.
5) Our enemies are playing for keeps. No longer is the excuse of ‘boys being boys’ gonna cut it. Kids are getting expelled and arrested. Lives are getting ruined. There will be a severe consequence for those who make poor decisions.
Look – we are in the middle of a public relations nightmare. There is a witch hunt underway looking for the next rogue chapter. You literally have people in the media blasting social media trying to dig up the next story.
It is time for the real leaders in our chapters to step up. This is a critical juncture in the history of fraternities. We have given our enemies plenty of ammunition that they will use to try to shut us down. Will we learn from the mistakes of others or will we face a slow and painful death? Only time will tell…