Last week, the University placed the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority on interim suspension pending an investigation into allegations of hazing. While few can dispute the seriousness of hazing allegations in general, University officials – in this situation – appear to be enforcing their unnecessarily vague hazing policy in an extreme manner. A long-standing organization that consistently rates among the leaders of Greek-letter groups in GPA stands to be dissolved over having pledges allegedly place pennies in their shoes and wear bathing suits under their clothes.
On college campuses across the country, fraternity and sorority hazing is a serious issue. Students have died from being forced to drink excessive amounts of liquor and arrested for committing acts of violence and committing other illegal acts. It is in the University’s interest to ensure Greek-letter groups not partake in such activities. GW’s current hazing guidelines deter such things from happening by threatening disciplinary action and revoking recognition. Unfortunately, University policy is so vague that it allows administrators to discipline groups along the same lines for minor offenses that do not hurt anyone physically or emotionally.
Draconian enforcement of GW’s broad hazing regulations is not only unnecessary but also antithetical to sustaining a vibrant Greek-letter community on campus. In years past, groups have been reprimanded and threatened with further action for merely having pledges attend ice cream parties and collective trips to supermarkets. It is nearly impossible to forge vibrant brotherhoods and sisterhoods if fraternities and sororities are unable to build camaraderie through communal pledge activities.
The University must sharpen its message on hazing. By harping on small issues, GW is prohibiting a vibrant, social Greek-letter scene from existing on campus and taking attention away from the seriousness of dangerous hazing practices. It is critical administrators re-evaluate its hazing policy to make sure students are protected from real physical and emotional harm, while allowing Greek-letter groups to have the meaningful collective experiences that draw many to Greek-letter life.