Daily 49er

Greek life doesn’t care about student lives

Penn State hazing death sheds light on the reckless and dangerous activities involved with fraternities and sororities.

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Greek life doesn’t care about student lives

At podium is Stacy Parks, Miller Centre County District Attorney, with parents of Timothy Piazza, 19, of Readington Township, N.J.  during a press conference at Bellefonte courthouse on Friday morning May 5, 2017. Timonthy's parents are James and Evelyn Piazza. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

At podium is Stacy Parks, Miller Centre County District Attorney, with parents of Timothy Piazza, 19, of Readington Township, N.J. during a press conference at Bellefonte courthouse on Friday morning May 5, 2017. Timonthy's parents are James and Evelyn Piazza. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)


At podium is Stacy Parks, Miller Centre County District Attorney, with parents of Timothy Piazza, 19, of Readington Township, N.J. during a press conference at Bellefonte courthouse on Friday morning May 5, 2017. Timonthy's parents are James and Evelyn Piazza. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)



At podium is Stacy Parks, Miller Centre County District Attorney, with parents of Timothy Piazza, 19, of Readington Township, N.J. during a press conference at Bellefonte courthouse on Friday morning May 5, 2017. Timonthy's parents are James and Evelyn Piazza. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Hanna Suarez, Opinions Editor

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Last Friday, 18 Penn State fraternity members faced multiple charges in what some media outlets are calling the “hazing” death of 19-year old sophomore Timothy Piazza. According to The New York Times, Piazza became intoxicated and fell down stairs during a “pledge night,” in February. The Times reports that eight of the 18 brothers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and that Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi chapter has been disbanded.

The series of events as captured by the house’s surveillance cameras tell a graphic story, in which Piazza is seen consuming large amounts of alcohol, attempting to leave and falling down basement stairs until he was was carried back up. He was laid on a couch in the house and denied medical attention, despite a handful of requests for an ambulance coming from other members. Attempts were made to keep wake him and keep him from rolling over onto his side, but brothers did not call 911 until the following morning.

During events like these, our hearts go out to the families and friends of these accidents. As Piazza’s father said during the news conference following the announcement of the charges, “This didn’t have to have to happen. This is the result of a feeling of entitlement, flagrant disobedience of the law and disregard for moral values that was then exacerbated by egregious acts of self-preservation.”

More than that, it is the result of the violence which is perpetuated by Greek life. Fraternities and sororities provide toxic atmospheres that condone alcohol and drug abuse, normalizing both sexual assault and rape  — all for the sake of “brotherhood,” “friendship,” “camaraderie” and “networking.” And let’s not forget those fees – membership dues can cost students over a thousand dollars per semester. This is more than just irresponsible disobedience and cowardice, these are the results of predatory institutions safe on their pedestals of wealth and numbers.

According to the organization Stop Hazing, more than half of college students involved in clubs or groups experience hazing, with 73 percent of students in social fraternities and sororities subjected to at least one hazing behavior. Also leading in this activity are varsity athletics, with 74 percent. The disproportionate number of initiative behavior amongst highly praised college groups signifies the way they are structured around exclusivity, and maintain that through idealist concepts of social life.

Greek life is nothing more than simulacrum of brotherhood and sisterhood, manhood and womanhood  —  fueled by the most toxic agents of these cultural productions: alcohol abuse, sexual assault, intimidation, violence. The values of all social sororities and fraternities who participate in house parties and pledge activities involving excessive or emphasized consumption of alcohol need to be reevaluated. If student body populations like Greek houses and athletics (which are often affiliated) are supposed to provide unique and well-rounded experiences for students to build their academic careers on, why do they engage in the activities which put their fellow brothers and sisters at risk?

The fact that brothers at Beta Theta Pi waited 12 hours to call first responders, and sent home a member who initially urged them to seek medical help, according to the Huffington Post, demonstrates the position of selfishness and inflated ego felt by fraternity brothers when one of their own pledges is literally dying. CNN also reports that the frat brothers went so far as to attempt to cover up their stories by cleaning the evidence of alcohol in the house and deleting chat groups they used to discuss the incident.

I do not believe the social engagements and relationships born of fraternities or sororities are authentic or fulfilling. If we want to measure the worth of these bonds, we can look at the numbers. CNN reports $1,179 in alcohol receipts prior to the party. This is the worth of their society. Tell me how much you pay in dues? Are these dues worth it when students are still subjected to the kind of fate that Tim Pazzia suffered?

These are fees for friendship, folks. There is nothing profound about alcoholism or the dangerous environments it provides.

In a 2014 article published in The Guardian, Jessica Valenti cites numerous acts of rape, performances of rape culture committed by frat brothers, as well as studies finding that fraternity members are three times more likely to rape, while sorority members are 74 percent more likely to experience rape. Valenti questions why  — if the evidence of danger is clear  — these groups are not held accountable and moves for the prospect of banning fraternities. I say, let’s ban them all.

Greek life is power by intimidation; it is the exertion of dominance by any means necessary and it is a plague on college campuses. There are plenty of clubs and organizations that students may participate in that do not revolve around power plays and reckless debauchery that harms eager students looking for a social outlet.

The case of Tim Piazza is a rare case where the perpetrators of Greek condoned violence are served their just desserts  — but fraternities and sororities have gone too long performing under the guise of community organizations. They need to be exposed for what they really are: groups of raging young adults who can act recklessly without consequence.


16 Responses to “Greek life doesn’t care about student lives”

  1. Monica on May 8th, 2017 4:30 pm

    Everyone has their opinions and if you do not like Greek life and have anything negative to say that is your choice. You cannot base the actions of ONE Greek organization and the people in that organization as what other Greek organizations portray. Greek organizations to people in one is family and friends that we created a bond to. Just because you do not or have not found something like we have does not mean we haven’t. These people were responsible for this tragic event, not the whole Greek organization. The people just so happen t be in this organization. There are many more event that go uncovered and are overlooked when it has to deal with death on campus. The Greek organizations seem to always bear the weight of the issue whenever the issue has to deal with alcohol. Other non-greek organizations, clubs, cultural fraternities and sororities, athletes, and regular students. Other organizations on this campus have caused the death of students by holding events that contain alcohol, but are they ever covered when it is not from a Greek organizations? I honestly do not think so, because the information was never publicized by the Daily49er or by CSULB. But an event that did not even occur on our campus is brought up, and our own organizations are bashed just because an organizations elsewhere made the horrible decisions that resulted in one of their brothers dead. This honestly deeply saddens me that our own peers on our campus cannot band together to help this situation. Instead you bash the organizations on this campus who help to give back to the community.

  2. Student on May 8th, 2017 10:07 pm

    Fraternities and sororities provide toxic atmospheres that condone alcohol and drug abuse, normalizing both sexual assault and rape — all for the sake of “brotherhood,” “friendship,” “camaraderie” and “networking.” And let’s not forget those fees – membership dues can cost students over a thousand dollars per semester.

    How can you possibly generalize all Greek organizations into one instance. This is extremely basis… I can honestly say this article and person that wrote it are $&@%.

  3. Quantin Pham on May 8th, 2017 10:36 pm

    Hi Ms. Suarez,

    As a member of a fraternal organization on our campus, I am saddened to hear that you feel this way about our organizations. While I genuinely hope that your opinions are not developed based off of poor experiences with the greek community, I would also that you didn’t formulate such strong opinions based purely on negative media coverage. Although greek life hasn’t been viewed very positively in light of recent events, I hoped to share with you that not all organizations are the same and that many positive things are being done by the greek community. I believe that our community on campus here is exemplary and we do truly care about creating better leaders that strive for academic excellence and improvements in our community. In the second portion of the article published by a Beach Magazine (linked below), one of the events my organization participates in is talked about. If you wanted to further discuss your opinions with me, I would love to converse and hear what you have to say.

    Quantin Pham


  4. Anon on May 8th, 2017 11:40 pm

    Honestly this is classic generalization. We all know how wrong it is to base an entire group/ culture off of the actions of a few. I really hope you reevaluate your own opinion seeing that you may not have personal experience within that group. From an outsider’s perspective you can only observe so much, and what you are describing are exactly those observations that you can only see from afar: superficial information creates superficial results. I was in a sorority for a while before I had to give it up to really focus on my career- oriented experience; however, I was giving it up because of the time commitment you make in a sorority to not only raise money for charities or volunteer at different community centers, but learn about what it is to become an independent and motivated woman as well. Most people in college drink; you do not need to be in a fraternity to do so. If you want to generalize this to a group, include yourself because it is young adults who binge drink (statistically speaking). I hope the family does not go as far as blaming the entirety of Greek Life for this terrible unfair loss of theirs.

  5. Christina on May 9th, 2017 1:45 am

    “…sorority members are 74 percent more likely to experience rape. Valenti questions why — if the evidence of danger is clear — these groups are not held accountable..”

    I primarily have an issue with your lumping in of sororities to the “toxic atmosphere that condones rape/ sexual assault”. By this and “not holding these groups accountable” you’re perpetuating victim blaming of sexual assault survivors, saying that they should essentially be responsible for not being raped under the notion of it being avoidable if they weren’t somehow in an organization. I completely agree that the violent, hyper-masculine environment of fraternities culture environments that unfortunately lead to events like the one at Penn State, but sororities can’t host parties and have significantly lower rates of hazing. I think certain points you make are fair, but the generalizations of sororities and fraternities being the same and equally problematic are vitriolic and inaccurate.

  6. Maria on May 9th, 2017 6:33 am

    This article is absolutely sickening. You take a horrible incident that occurred all the way across the United States at an obviously negligent organizations house and compared it to all of Greek life. I get this is an opinions article but holy hell as someone who should be used as an outreach of knowledge of events you should know that when basing an opinion you look horrible dumb when you don’t have proper facts. It’s college let’s face it people drink. Greek organization on the CSULB campus take alcohol awareness courses far more often than the average students. And if you have ever actually been to a college party you’d be aware that the drunkest people there are typically the ones not in Greek life. I can’t tell you how often I had to help a girl whom I had no idea who it was who obviously drank way too much. This campus is a haze free campus. I was never hazed ever. And sororities aren’t even allowed to have alcohol at the house. Since I’m assuming you aren’t in a Greek organization on this campus (which is totally fine there is zero judgement there) you don’t really have a right to speak up for us. You’re entitled to an opinion but do some research on your school. Understand the president of this school is trying to push students to join Greek life because of the impact we have on campus and in the community. You must I nderstand that sexual assault and rape occur the most often in dorms on college campuses rather than greek organizations. You would then understand that dues aren’t to false friendships and alcohol but rather to supporting events where we raise money for children with disabilities, cancer treatment facilities, veteran facilities, women’s facilities, and guide dogs for the blind.
    Do not get me wrong what happened at Penn state is horribly sad and horribly sickening, but instead of shaming the horrible organization in which actions led to a death you decided to categorize a school and a group of people on the other side of the country as equally as the bad guy. You should do your research on the bad things you’ve heard from OUR Greek life and then look at the good things OUR Greek organizations do for the community.

  7. Writer and Former Sorority Member on May 9th, 2017 8:00 am

    I am saddened to see that every time the D49er wants to critique Greek life, they have to result to logical fallacies to do it.

    As someone who decided to leave my sorority, I understand better than really anyone that there is a LOT to critique that can be made when it comes to Greek life at CSULB. Alcoholism is just the tip of the ice berg, and you publish an entire paper on students and the treatment that their “brothers” and “sisters” put them through.

    You point at no local evidence to support your claims. Pointing at one recent happening at a university several thousand miles away doesn’t count. While I acknowledged earlier that rampant alcoholism is an issue with the Greek community, by claiming that what happened at PSU is the reason why CSULB Greek life needs to be abolished is an ad hominem attack and it makes you look absolutely ignorant to the people you are trying to persuade.

    Next time the Daily 49er decides to publish another article critiquing Greek life, maybe do a journalist’s job and research it. Maybe actually ask former members AT CSULB what their experiences were. Because right now, you have a legitimate concern, but by committing logical fallacies and simply lacking journalistic integrity, you’re making it harder for people to take seriously the damage that being in these organizations cause. You just come across as someone who’s bitter.

    Try again, D49er.

  8. ODH on May 9th, 2017 10:56 am

    It is honestly astonishing how a university newspaper can be so biased and laughable. This article is the biggest piece of shit i’ve seen since the dining hall had steak and lemon chicken. I can’t believe someone can see an instance of stupidity FROM A DIFFERENT COLLEGE and condemn a whole group of people. It’s basically racism. I hope you realize that your views are wrong and not popular and you should seriously reconsider your career choice.

  9. Anonymous on May 9th, 2017 11:01 am

    This article is one that completely degrades all of the positive aspects of Greek life. As an alumn of a CSULB sorority I am beyond saddened that the author of this article has allowed their clear bias to show through. One instance does not define entire groups. I genuinely believe that this article is poorly written and a poor example of journalism as a whole. Please learn more about the Greek life on CSULB before you generalize and use a sad event like this one to push your propaganda against Greek life.

  10. Mia Slotsve on May 9th, 2017 3:00 pm

    The senseless tragedy that happened at Penn State was not the fault of the named fraternity-but of the individuals that were responsible for his lack of care and now charged for his unnecessary loss of life. Had his fall/injury happen at a home or dorm room with the same people involved, the situation would have probably ended the same way because of the choices those individuals made to not seek help.

    I did not join a sorority in my college years, but I know this article is only based on a few heartless individuals-not at CSULB- and national statistics BUT nothing specific to Long Beach State’s Greek sororities and fraternities. I hope many readers-and I challenge Hanna, the author- to talk to and attend your local chapters philanthropic events to learn more about their constant community involvement. They are always accepting more help and volunteers! Until you do Hanna, here are some other positive and national statistics for you to research and offer your opinion on:

    Over 800 campuses in the United States and Canada participate in Greek Life
    There are over 9 million Greek members nationally
    In the past five years, more than 100 colleges and universities have opened their doors for the first time to fraternities.
    Of the nation’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity men.
    85% of the Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity.
    40 of 47 U.S. Supreme Court Justices since 1910 were fraternity men.
    76% of all Congressmen and Senators belong to a fraternity.
    Every U.S. President and Vice President, except two in each office, born since the first social fraternity was founded in 1825 have been members of a fraternity.
    63% of the U.S. President’s Cabinet members since 1900 have been Greek.
    A National Conference report shows a high percentage of the 4,000 NIC fraternity chapters are above the All-Men’s scholastic average on their respective campuses.
    A U.S. Government study shows that over 70% of all those who join a fraternity/sororitiy graduate, while under 50% of all non-fraternity/sorority persons graduate.
    Less than 2% of an average college student’s expenses go toward fraternity dues. (U.S. Office of Education)
    Over 85% of the student leaders on some 730 campuses are involved in the Greek community.
    The first Female Senator was Greek
    The first Female Astronaut was Greek
    All of the Apollo 11 Astronauts are Greek
    **Over $7 million is raised each year by Greeks nationally**
    **850,000 hours are volunteered by greeks annually**
    **The Greek system is the largest network of volunteers in the US, with members donating over 10 million hours of volunteer service each year**
    71% of those listed in “Who’s Who in America” belong to a fraternity
    There are 123 fraternities and sororities with 9 million members total
    There are 750,000 undergraduate members in 12,000 chapters on more than 800 campuses in the USA and Canada.

    I look forward to your next Greek Life article.
    My source: https://www5.njit.edu/greeklife/directory/facts.php

  11. Greek member on May 9th, 2017 4:49 pm

    Bunch of lies written by a narrow minded person. No one hates this much on another group or person without being truly unhappy with their own life. My advice for the writer find some happiness in your laugh maybe you won’t have so much hate for others in your life.

  12. Elle on May 9th, 2017 5:21 pm

    I totally agree with you. I entered a sorority at my last school and this was all they cared about. There would be better attendance at hazing events then there would be just at regular meetings. We would be fined for everything and all they cared about is partying. I wanted to make friends at a new school, I quit and they act as if we’ve never met. Many other girls quit with me because we refused to get someone sick from the hazing. They obviously weren’t real friends to be made , or they’ll still be our friends after e quit. Im just glad it didn’t get this far.

  13. Izaac on May 9th, 2017 6:00 pm

    TLDR: First of all, I’m not sure where you get your information of statistics about hazing when all of us in the greek community have to take greek 101 as well as watch a video that informs us about what to do in scenarios where you see abuse, rape, or illegal substances. This is produced by the school and is mandatory for everyone. For a journalist your doing a terrible job gathering information and just follow what the media portrays frats and sororities. You need to understand that greek life is a community, you offended everyone that is part of a organization and stereotype the people in each organization. If anything I feel more pride for my fraternity and my school since joining a fraternity. They support me a lot and help build my character as a person and it makes me feel more confident in myself that I can achieve anything in life.

    To sum it up, get your facts straight, don’t make assumptions when writing articles because this kind of news is the reason why trump can call media outlets fake news and get away with it, and lastly you ramble on too much in your article that I lost focus in reading this like 20 times.

    Git gud

  14. Shayla on May 10th, 2017 11:27 am

    people need to stop pointing their goddamn fingers at individual organizations or the oennstate administration and point fingers at ourselves as people. Things like this happen. It’s sad and not okay but that doesn’t mean it’s anyone’s fault. To assume that Greek life is violent and a center for friends based on wealth in ignorant, naive, and WRONG. To assume the administration is not looking out for their students is also ignorant, naive, and wrong! this could’ve happened anywhere, at any party, at any school, with ANY organization outside of Greek life. it’s a shame, and again it’s not okay, but to point fingers is just looking for a person to blame. No one is to blame. These things happen and it’s awful but maybe we should be teaching our children and maybe we could benefit from a few lessons as well, on how to treat other human beings.

  15. Megan on May 10th, 2017 11:41 am

    It is my assumption that the writer of this article has never been involved in Greek life nor have they taken strides to understand sides of fraternity and sorority life.
    I understand how easy it can be to provide a one-sided article such as this. I understand as someone with a writing background how it’s much more simple to write an article like this.The writer does limited research and fills wholes with personal opinions.
    The happenings at Penn State were terrible and my heart goes out to all that were hurt by this instance. Yes, the men in this particular organization are at fault. However, not the organization. Yes, hazing and this type of behavior has been seen time and time again in Greek life around the country many times. Just as with many many other types of organizations. However, a quality journalist would know not to generalize a problem like this writer has done here.
    As an actual member of Greek life that has done extensive research on this topic. You are simply wrong. You are unintelligent to make such claims about a general type of organization and you have done such a disservice with this article. As a part of a Greek organization, I have never once been part of any hazing, I have never drank because of pressure and never to excess, I have never let anything happen to a fellow member, and the amount of good that I have done and seen come from this community is without bounds. I have never participated in any of the things you have generalized above. I understand that my actions do not represent the masses but I sure do know a large amount of men and women that do not fit your stereotype.
    You should be ashamed that you have stereotyped millions of men and women, both current and past members of Greek life.
    Editors of the 49er, you should push your writers to be more interested in telling a complete and whole story rather than writing to fit their own needs and own options. You should also understand that you write for a campus with an outstanding Greek life that you have now offended. I urge you to be better.
    Thank you.

  16. BTP on May 10th, 2017 12:58 pm

    Sounds like someone didn’t get a bid

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.


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