By Seth Morin
Fraternities across campus are gaining again as some chapters in other parts of the country are in trouble with their schools – and potentially the law.
Two fraternities at two well-known universities in the United States are under intense scrutiny following racist and offensive actions.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s (SAE) University of Oklahoma’s chapter has been shut down, and some students were expelled following a video of some of the members using racist slurs on a bus. There was at least one reference to lynching.
The national Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity has suspended the KDR chapter on the Penn State University campus for one year after some members allegedly created a Facebook page that displayed hazing, drugs and photos of nude women that are presumably unconscious.
SAE’s national headquarters released a statement that said, “Sigma Alpha Epsilon is not a racist, sexist or bigoted fraternity. Not only have we provided education and training on these and other issues, we are working to make sure that discussions and awareness on these and other topics is at the forefront of our membership experience.”
Reports have even surfaced from members of the fraternity that the song in the video was taught to them. But the national SAE denies the accusations.
“The fraternity has a number of songs that have been in existence for more than a century, but the chant is in no way endorsed by the organization nor part of any education whatsoever,” the fraternity said in a statement.
Soon after the incident, the chapter was banned and the school expelled students that participated in the chant.
But KDR may be facing a bigger problem: the police.
When the allegations came to light, the national KDR fraternity put the chapter on a one-year suspension. Now police are getting involved in the form of legal and advocate services for the women in the photographs that have come forward.
So far none of the women said they were sexually assaulted, according to the State College Police Department.
The national KDR headquarters released a statement soon after, saying; “The national leadership of Kappa Delta Rho is committed to holding our brothers accountable for their actions. We embrace the principle of respect for all persons and we will adhere to that principle in this matter.”
But for the ones involved, it doesn’t affect just themselves.
“Just one simply foolish act didn’t just ruin the lives of the students involved, but their family members as well, even though they were totally innocent,” said senior Kevin Kreuzman, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha.
[pullquote]Bad chapters like these are the reason that Greek life around the United States gets a bad name.
— Logan Chamberlain, senior and Lambda Chi Alpha member[/pullquote]
Both Kreuzman and Chamberlain said their fraternity has discussed the incidents, but have not changed anything.
“We did have a speaker come to our chapter meeting and he touched base on the subject of both of the incidents, which allowed us to approach the topic together as a fraternity,” Kreuzman said.
Senior Allyn Pearson, a member of Delta Delta Delta, said the incidents still show that racism and sexism are issues.
“Greek life doesn’t perpetuate racism or sexism; stupid and ignorant people do,” Pearson said. “I don’t blame Greek life. I blame the ignorant individuals for contributing to a major problem in our country.”
Pearson said she was worried the Greek life dynamic would be different on campus, but does not feel like that has been the case.
[pullquote]Although we have heard about the stereotypes of Greek organizations at other schools, that does not mean they apply to the chapters we have on campus.
— Allyn Pearson, senior and Delta Delta Delta member[/pullquote]
All three Greek life students said they never once considered deactivating.
“Even though all it takes is one fraternity to ruin the perception of all fraternities nationwide, I still know what our beliefs are and all of the great things we do as a chapter,” Kreuzman said.
Chamberlain said it has been one of the best experiences of his life and that he would not trade it for the world.
“I’ve learned lessons that I will carry throughout the rest of my life while being a member in my fraternity,” he said. “Greek life is meant to be a positive thing for those involved and to be a shining light for a campus in means of philanthropy and leadership.”
“Greek life is supposed to promote personal growth and philanthropy,” Pearson said. “Greek organizations do not discriminate, people do.”
President of Franklin College’s KDR Chapter Cody Warren said that members were not allowed to comment on the matter and said to speak with the National KDR fraternity. Several members of SAE did not respond to requests for interviews.