Tragedy often brings a clarity that we wish we had before it happened. Looking back, it is easy to point out uncomfortable truths about the events that have transpired, this most recent one not excluded. The most important thing is that we acknowledge them, no matter how uncomfortable they are. One uncomfortable truth of this matter is that it is going to happen again unless something is done. The other uncomfortable truth is that fraternities themselves are the problem, begging the question, why has nothing been done? Everytime a tragedy like this happens we go through the same motions: outrage, ban the organization, and wait until the next tragedy happens at a different fraternity.
Stone Foltz’s story is a sad one, but unfortunately it is not an unfamiliar one for hundreds of families.
According to Emeritus Professor, Frank Nuwer at Franklin College, there has been at least one university hazing death a year since 1969. Forty-nine of those deaths occurred between 2007 and 2017 alone.
We keep on asking ourselves, “How does this keep on happening?” Because we are unwilling to accept the idea that rather than being isolated incidents, they are the results of fraternities and the culture that they breed.
Fraternities have caused untold damage to their members and the communities they reside in since their inception as elitist, racist and exclusionary organizations that largely benefit rich, white men. This statement should come as no surprise, because we are all too familiar with the reputation that fraternities have earned for themselves over the years. They act as safe havens for sexual abuse, alcoholism, nepotism and academic dishonesty that manifests itself in test and homework banks (assignments and tests saved over the years by previous members to help current members with their work).
Furthermore, fraternities are often so racist and unwelcoming to students of color that Black and multicultural Greek letter organizations had to be created. What might come as more of a surprise is that fraternity members are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than non-fraternity men on college campuses, according to a study published in the “Violence Against Women” journal. Finally, we averaged nearly five deaths per year between 2008 and 2018 due to fraternities.
While these statistics are absolutely jarring, they are crystal clear. If we would have listened, we would have heard fraternities screaming the ways they were going to hurt our community. Pike alone has a horrifying track record; but unfortunately, it’s not just Pike. It’s not right to act surprised that these things happen when fraternities commonly call mixed drinks ‘purple/pink panty droppers.’ It is not right to act surprised when fraternities turn away groups from parties if they don’t have enough women. And it’s not right to act surprised when fraternities continue egregious behavior when every time they are caught, they walk away with a slap on the wrist. Even more horrifying is the idea that we only know about the reported incidents.
Why do we let these organizations that we KNOW are responsible for death and suffering operate on our campuses? We know what these organizations do, the statistics are right in front of us, yet they remain ingrained in our campuses due to the money they bring to the university. Because of this, my call to action isn’t to BGSU, because I know they’re spineless. My call to action is for the students to stand up to big fraternity money and acknowledge the truth that fraternities have no place on a campus with a student body that demands equality and safety for ALL of its members.