On fraternity suspensions

Within a week, the University of Miami lost not one, but two fraternities that were suspended pending further investigation. While the alleged violations haven’t been made public, there is plenty of speculation as to what led to Pi Kappa Alpha’s and Lambda Chi Alpha’s suspension, and one thing is certain: The University must do something; the root causes of these problems must be addressed.

One possible cause may be that many Greeks-from the suspended fraternities as well as from other chapters-feel that the administration, particularly the Dean of Students’ office, has bred an environment of distrust between Greek leaders and the University. Greeks say they feel like there is no place to turn for support, nowhere to openly discuss issues without fear of what is said being thrown back in their faces. The administration most likely disagrees, but if one of the two parties is so unhappy, it seems that clear miscommunication problems exist.

If a chapter is having problems, the last place that it would go is to the very people that would file charges against them, as the system is set up. Greeks admit that some administrators on campus are willing to help support chapters in need, giving them a more knowledgeable perspective than the chapter president who most likely knows nothing more than what he or she has seen in the two years or so they’ve been here. Yet, these Greeks just don’t feel like they’re being treated fairly by the voices that are supposed to represent them most.

The lack of support Greeks feel they get-whether completely warranted or not-has contributed to Greek life on campus going downhill in the past couple of years. An unhappy chapter is less likely to respect its Code of Conduct and the University system and thus get into more trouble. In fact, it seems as though two types of chapters have emerged: Those that are horrified to do anything because they don’t want to get in trouble, and those that just stopped caring because they continually get in trouble, and are continually on probation, no matter what they do. The former stop themselves from fulfilling their potential, and the latter go overboard and end up under investigation.

This is not saying that Greeks never do anything bad, or that they don’t deserve to be reprimanded when they do. If the investigations do find that the chapters violated policy, as many members of the campus community expect, then the chapters should be held accountable for their actions. Most importantly, these investigations should serve as a wake-up call to the other Greeks and administrators that the system needs to be fixed.

Weak members exist in every organization, and they often ruin it for everyone else. Yet there are also those that recognize their organization’s problems and strive to make their groups better, but they often feel like they don’t have someone to whom they can go to with their problems. Until they do, it is likely that deeper problems will remain within Greek organizations-and so we wouldn’t be surprised to see more suspensions.