Flashback, October 4th, 2001. It’s late on a Thursday night, and campus is rather empty; after all, Thursday is college night in the Grove. Ten thousand fresh copies of the Friday, October 5th edition of The Miami Hurricane are scattered throughout the various bins on campus: some in dorms, some in front of busy academic areas, and some in the UC.
These papers, however, were controversial to the core, containing an article describing the recent (and now infamous) actions of members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Several students, identifying themselves as AEPi members and wearing AEPi shirts, had been assaulting Muslim students on campus and asking non-Muslim students what we should do about those “damn towelheads” and “damn Arabs.” This, of course, greatly angered members of the student community, regardless of religion. It was in the month following September 11th, when international and social tensions were at a peak, and it just wasn’t right for these kids to be so racially ignorant and offensive. So, The Hurricane, in its duty, reported on these actions and the reactions of students to them.
The Editor, Jordan Rodack, was also a member of the same fraternity involved in the story. As is required with journalistic integrity, he declined to have any influence on the content or publication of the article, and gave authority to the news editor. The article had to run, for it was the truth, and to hinder such would be more offensive and ignorant than the actions listed above.
Fraternity “spokespersons” railed against the paper; Rodack’s safety and life were threatened. And then, the evening that the issue was placed in its boxes, nine thousand copies were stolen. UM determined that three members of the Lambda Deuteron chapter of AEPi were responsible and punished them. They suspended two members of AEPi and placed a third on probation. Those suspensions were “quietly lifted shortly thereafter,” Rodack said, in a later interview with the Herald, and then went on to reveal the more awful truth: several fraternity members harassed him for much of the next year because he allowed controversial story to go to print. Two journalism organizations, several months later, asked the University of Miami to take action against the fraternity, but none has since been taken.
Now the frat is suspended, for actions unrelated to the original charges: multiple alcohol violations, violations of state and local laws. Alcohol violations? If a frat could simply be brought up on “alcohol violations” the existence of fraternities would cease altogether. There’s something hidden here. “If you have to continue to either sell your organization or constantly celebrate with alcohol…your organizations have a problem,” said Greg Singleton, associate dean of students overseeing the fraternities. “Let this be a lesson to all of you. You should be educating your membership now so that the same thing does not happen to your organization.” What hypocrisy! If you say out of one side of your mouth that selling your organization to pledges with alcohol is bad, yet out of the other side condone the activity because that’s just what frats do, then you are guilty of hypocrisy.
The University should investigate the ever-growing phenomenon of “frat rule” on this campus if it wants to truly teach a lesson.
Because “Tomorrow’s leaders are in our chapters today,” as the Alpha Epsilon Pi creed states, and in these college years they truly are making the “Commitment for a lifetime.”