Greek organizations across the country have faced intense scrutiny in the past decade over alcohol problems, drug abuse and hazing. Greek-letter organizations are constantly on edge because one incident could mean saying goodbye to their houses and charters.
The University of Nevada, Reno, has not been exempt from these incidents. From Pi Beta Phi Women’s Fraternity being kicked off campus in 2012 because of hazing allegations, to the incident at Sigma Nu Fraternity which resulted in the death of freshman Ryan Abele — UNR has had its fair share of shameful Greek life incidents.
This history has forced the Interfraternity Council at UNR to create new rules and contracts to tie up loose ends, and the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is doing its best to ensure safety for everyone in these organizations. However, some fraternities refused to sign the contract and are now part of a disaffiliated fraternity organization. While The Nevada Sagebrush originally supported the university whipping Greek life into tip-top shape, it has gone too far and has started to impact philanthropic causes.
Philanthropies — or charitable organizations — is one of the things Greek life is actually good for. Each fraternity and sorority has a charity or cause it teams up with to raise money for and promote. At UNR, some of these organizations include supporting veterans, adopting animals, childhood cancer funding, Alzheimer’s research and more. Right now, the restrictions the university has set for disaffiliated fraternities is taking away money from these charitable causes for no reason other than to be petty.
For most of Greek life, one of the main ways they raise money for their philanthropy is through inter-Greek relations and supporting each other. The university has made it nearly impossible for these disaffiliated fraternities to participate in charitable events by threatening to punish the affiliated organizations for their involvement — therefore taking away money from these causes. It’s one thing to restrict them from recruiting on campus, but to bar them from giving to charity — even as individuals not representing their Greek organization — is a whole other thing.
This puts the university in a hypocritical position. It refuses to recognize the disaffiliated organizations but also wants to control them. It seems the university has two options.
Option one is to continue to negotiate with the disaffiliated organizations to bring them back to the regulated Greek life system. This is unlikely as negotiations have happened before, which led to these organizations disaffiliating in the first place. It’s the university’s way or the highway.
Option two is to completely ignore disaffiliated organizations, what they do and where they send their money. This leaves the university completely off the hook for the less pleasant things that happen in a frat house while also allowing philanthropies to prosper.
Essentially, UNR can’t have it both ways without damaging the experience of its college students. Its intentions were good in response to recent events, but it is time it reevaluates its rules and loosens the leash on Greek life. It needed to be reigned in, there is no denying it, but that has been accomplished.
Whatever the university’s Greek life policies are in the future, it needs to stop sacrificing innocent philanthropies for the sake of its war.
The Nevada Sagebrush Editorial Board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.