College universities across the country have been cracking down on fraternities and sororities, which has raised the issue of what’s next for SUNY Oswego’s Greek Life.
In the past year there has been four deaths related to Greek Life and hazing incidents. When these issues are related to Greek Life on a college campus’s states and universities respond by looking at how to change these communities for the better.
Student Involvement advisor at SUNY Oswego Nicole Morse said, “Nationwide we have seen some huge incidents that have impacted or nation and college campuses as a whole.”
Morse also said: “New York State is not isolated from the incidents in Louisiana, Florida, and Pennsylvania. In response to this New York State Universities are looking more into why students are reporting high rates of binge drinking, depression, why students are leaving school or struggling in classes, hazing incidents, and student deaths.”
At the start of the year the first hazing fraternity related death was Timothy Piazza, 19, of Penn State University. Following him was 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver at Louisiana State in September. Just this pass November junior of Florida State, Andrew Coffey died while pledging Pi Kappa Phi. Most recently and not long after the death at Florida State was the death of 20-year-old Matthew Ellis at Texas State. In response to the Florida State incident the university has suspended Greek Life indefinitely, according to TIME magazine.
According to the Director of Student Involvement here at SUNY Oswego, Mike Paestella, “The threat of Greek Life as a whole right now is at a high, keeping an eye on Florida.”
Paestella said, “If the state of Florida took certain actions against Greeks at the state schools in Florida and it stood up in court the ripple effects would go coast to coast.”
This is because no state in the country has banned Greek Life as a whole but if the Florida case were to stand up in court the game would change. Currently Greek Life is not on the state of New York’s radar but if Florida did ban Greek Life in their state New York may be next.
Jonathan Coffin, media relation coordinator for the National Panhellenic Council shared the commentary from the NPC chairman in regards for a ‘Call for Critical Change.’
He said, “The campus tragedies our fraternity and sorority communities have experienced in recent months reinforce that we have an obligation and duty to re-double our efforts on campus safety.”
Quoting the chairman, Carol Jones, Coffin said, “Preventing the types of tragedies we’ve seen in recent years demands the type of holistic approach to shaping student culture that cannot be accomplished by campus professionals alone.”
A way for students to help move this change along is with adapting and recruiting students that will better their organizations.
Morse said, “Being open to new ideas and a new way of thinking is what needs to occur, there are more resources for students now at most universities than ever before but the cultural and social shift of ‘traditions’ is what chapters find hard to adjust to.”
Morse also said, “Each organization, student, and chapter, may be at a different place in their structure and willingness to change.”
She stated that: “The most important thing is to provide an opportunity to change and reform and have that critical conversation with organizations, so they know what is right and wrong. These are student-led, student-run organizations on our college campuses and they have to be the ones empowered to reform and change.”
There has been a spike in chapters no longer focusing on the community aspect of their organization but more on the drinking and social aspect. At Oswego Greek Life is about elevating your experience, giving students a chance to lead and grow, said Morse. There are 24 Greek organizations that need to make these changes and reform.
There is more to these organizations than drinking Paestella said, “The long-term benefits of Greek Life are abundant, it is a life-long brotherhood or sisterhood that allows you to gain skills and network all over the country while always having a support team.”