GOOD! West Virginia Suspends All Fraternities And Sororities After Frat “Brother” Is Found Dead

Are fraternities and sororities across the country finally ready to admit that, at the very least, they’re not exactly the organizations they claim to be? This horrible story out of West Virginia University–where all campus fraternities and sororities have been kicked off campus after a frat member died in a “medical accident”–is many things, but it’s definitely not surprising.

The article describes the fraternity member’s death as “stunning.” Really? How is it stunning? Anyone familiar with major media scandals involving Greek houses can tell you it’s nothing if not predictable. First, red flags start going up around a certain house or the Greek system as a whole–there will be accusations of sexual assault, hazing, depravity, or life-threatening levels of alcohol abuse. The Greek chapters and their representatives will flat-out deny any problems, and remind everyone that they’re actually the most hard-working, strait-laced, wonderful groups on campus.

The campus police can easily verify that this portrayal is not true, and Greek organizations produce more lawbreaking and trouble-making than any other campus group. The fraternities and sororities then double down, standing by their claims and accusing critics of being jealous of them. (Almost all defenses of the Greek system include some backhanded, self-flattering insult about how critics wouldn’t be accepted into their elite club.) If necessary, lawyers and PR flacks from the national organization will jump in, trying to maintain a chapter’s “image” while making potential legal messes quietly disappear. If a fraternity or sorority member speaks openly about problems in the house, they will be deemed snitches and kicked out. But the truth eventually outs itself, and the jig is up.

Sometimes, it’s when a chapter does something so outrageous and disgusting that it’s all over the news, and no one can deny it anymore–such as when this happened and this happened. But at least those kids are alive. Many Greek organizations will gladly keep this charade going right up until the day a member is found dead in a frat house. This is when various people in leadership positions admit that yes, this chapter was nothing but trouble, and yes, they knew about it on some level–leaving everyone to conclude that the death could have been prevented.

It’s time for the schools themselves to take control as long as these groups exist as registered student organizations. The university should demand to enter Greek houses at any time without notice, to monitor everything from hazing to cheating to underage drinking to theft. Every anonymous survey and undercover investigation finds these problems to be much bigger than they’ll ever let on.

(Just a tip-off: many fraternities and sororities have an elaborate system of engaging in academic misconduct that would get other students suspended or expelled, such as saving graded tests and answer keys in a filing cabinet so fellow members can cheat. Academic fraud is absolutely the university’s business, and they have a duty to investigate it. If a chapter has a significantly higher than average GPA, it’s probably not because they’re smarter than everyone else.)

If these houses really are home to upstanding, straight-laced “brothers” and “sisters,” they should have no problem complying and will do so readily, without packing up and moving the house off campus. (This is apparently a new tactic for Greek organizations, especially ones on the verge of major trouble.) If not, assume they indeed have something to hide, and go in to find out what it is. This student’s death is just one in a long string of identical incidents.