EDITORIAL: To improve, Greeks must be held accountable


Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

In the weeks since an anonymous person claiming to be a member of Greek life accused Sacramento State fraternities and sororities of systemic misconduct, it’s been made clear that not enough effort is made to hold Greek organizations accountable.

This is because, at the base level, Greek students are failing to recognize that though the behaviors accused of some do not reflect on all, they all stand to lose something they very clearly care about if nothing changes to end systemic problems like hazing and alcohol abuse as well as cultural issues like sexism and exclusivity.

When a crime occurs on campus, the Sac State Police Department is required to report it transparently to a crime log, one that is accessible and available to anyone. The same obligation is not demanded of Greek life organizations.

A California Public Records Act request filed by The State Hornet in 2017 revealed numerous instances of reported misconduct, including sexual violence and harassment, substance abuse and hazing, as well as efforts to thwart investigations into such matters.

RELATED: 2-year report on Greek life violations reveals laundry list of problems

These violations were not public, they were only brought to light because a California law requires public universities to disclose these records upon request. This is the same reason it was only recently publicized that Pi Kappa Alpha was kicked off campus and brought back within the last year.

While this lack of transparency may be the best publicity move for the university, it directly affects past, current and prospective members who may not be aware of them. Without full knowledge, students no longer have the correct information to make what may be the most impactful decision they make while at Sac State.

In terms of the community service aspect often boasted of, much of Greek life revolves around philanthropy. Sac State’s Greek community, about 1,400 students, raised around $194,521 for philanthropic causes during the 2017-2018 school year, according to Student Organization & Leadership.

Fraternities and sororities serve a role on campus almost no other campus organization can. Whereas themed clubs require the icebreaker of a common interest, Greek life has been part of the college experience for centuries.

RELATED: Sac State students weigh in on Greek life’s purpose

A large part of the Greek experience is the concept of family. A group of people that choose you as worthy of their chapter and bring you in as one of their own. A circle that you can rely on and call friends.

People that you just met are suddenly brothers and sisters. This inspires loyalty and camaraderie; a common interest unifies a group of strangers into that family.

But this family aspect can be and is being used to protect what are the worst qualities of Greek organizations. Qualities that get people hurt or in trouble. Qualities that can ruin lives before students graduate, and in extreme hazing incidents nationwide, have actually ended lives.

This family setting, over time, becomes true. And students begin to consider doing things for friends that they would do for family; lie, hide and co-conspire to make sure that this way of life they have found is not jeopardized because of one bad apple, or one fun night gone wrong.

Greek members have over and over ridiculed reports that they may be participating in hazing and alcohol abuse. They claim innocence and #FakeNews on allegations from within their own organizations — allegations that are consistently proven true.

In a 2017 article, The Economist examined deaths as a result of hazing and found that at least one college student died in a hazing incident every year since 1969. 40 students died between the years of 2007 and 2017, and by far the most common cause of death was alcohol poisoning.

When taken in context with the two videos leaked by those two anonymous sources — both claiming to be Greek life members — and semi-viral videos constantly circulating social media, it is clear this problem is systemic. It is not going away.

It is frankly appalling that Pi Kappa Alpha is back on campus so soon. It is worse that anyone wanting to join since the organization was reinstated had no way of knowing its very recent transgressions.

RELATED: Sac State Pi Kappa Alpha chapter no longer under investigation

Greek life members at Sac State, as well as the university, need to take this seriously. Those who want to make these organizations better need to recognize that problem and weed out those among them truly endangering not only this chosen way of life, but student lives themselves.

College is a time of exploration and maturity, which always comes with hurdles. Some would have you believe that Greek students are no different than others; that Greek customs and traditions are a thing of the past. But the evidence speaks for itself.