Dear President Stenger,
I am sure all responsible people agree that hazing at Binghamton University must stop. New York state law has required that it stop ever since 1994, partially in response to a hazing-related death at Alfred University. Sadly, this law has done little to prevent both psychological and physical damage resulting from hazing experiences. In fact, it appears that hazing has continued statewide. Cornell University, which had a death last year, has decided not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, a choice Binghamton has mirrored so far. However, given that hazing has been against the law for about 20 years, it seems to me that banning hazing just does not work.
Alfred University ultimately did what was needed to prevent any further hazing: The school banned fraternities but allowed them to fundraise on campus as well as have their alumni meetings there.
While I know there are strong considerations for wanting to keep Greek Life, given the continuation of the abusive practices of hazing, I think it is better to be safe than sorry.
When I attended Binghamton, the school had a pub on campus. This provided a social outlet for the student body and, because of its convenience, significantly reduced drunk driving. Reopening the pub might be a good idea, especially if you consider banning fraternities.
This problem that you have inherited is deadly serious. Somehow I don’t think that half measures will effectively put an end to this insidious practice. The policies discouraging hazing have been a failure. It took a death to convince Alfred University. I sincerely hope that Binghamton will understand that it cannot successfully prevent active fraternities from secretly hazing, which is a long-standing and unfortunate tradition. It may be time to face the fact that the risk is far greater than the good of keeping fraternities.
Class of 1973