When the University put the kibosh on fraternity and sorority pledging this semester after numerous complaints of hazing, they loosened the lid on a can of worms that had been tightly shut for a long time. Now, it’s time to wedge that lid open and punish those responsible for hazing.
The subsequent investigation into hazing at Binghamton is a good thing, and though it may not turn up much (because students involved, regrettably, probably won’t speak up) it certainly sends the right signal. Hazing is illegal, prohibited by both campus and state, and ethically reprehensible. There is no place for it on a campus that claims to have as much integrity and prestige, inside the classroom and out, as Binghamton does.
Everyone knows that hazing happens, here and everywhere else. And kids opt into this system of their own volition. But if even half of the rumors swirling around campus are half-true, then the jig needs to end. The University no longer has plausible deniability and can’t condone institutional abuse — much less proudly display the flags of offending organizations in the library’s lobby.
As an Editorial Board absent of any members who belong to Greek organizations, we can’t speak to the personal psychology of individuals who decide to pledge fraternities and sororities — specifically, those that haze pledges. We understand that people join Greek Life for any number of reasons, and that there are existent Greek organizations without the hazing stain, but the poor (or extremely poor) behavior of those accused has already tainted all of Greek Life, and may yet affect all students here.
With that said, if you bore witness to hazing or were hazed yourself, you need to grow up and speak up. Now is not the time to be coy and mum. Perpetuating the idea that pledging goings-on need to be kept under wraps to preserve fraternity and sorority integrity is a feeble defense. Going forward with this investigation, we need whistle blowers; people need to speak up. As members of these organizations, and even just as college students, you are considered to be rational adults.
Members of the Greek organizations facing investigation must ask themselves these questions: What matters more, your freedom to haze each other or your affiliation with this campus? Do the ends justify the means? Does the systematic, institutionalized mental and physical abuse of peers make them better men and women, worthy of entrance into your exclusive clubs?
BU has already answered the last question with a “no,” and we stand behind them. All offending parties should face criminal charges and their host organizations should be kicked off campus, no longer allowed to affiliate themselves with Binghamton University.
An investigation into Greek Life hazing has been long overdue. The negative connotation between pledging and fraternities has always been in the public eye. It’s time to bring the severity of this situation to light.