George Mason Law School

Staff Editorial: Intolerant behavior childish, unacceptable

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April 10, 2007

1:52 PM

The recent allegations of homophobic slandering on the part of members of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, directed at neighboring fraternity Theta Delta Chi, are disturbing, embarrassing and have no place on this campus. Individual fraternity members are by no means representative of the organization as a whole, yet such inappropriate and degrading behavior exhibited by individuals naturally reflects poorly on their peers. These reports are particularly troubling when considering that many fraternities are founded on leadership and character, and that they exist today as a means for their members to develop and pursue these goals.

p. On a more rudimentary level, this sort of childish behavior, including the fecal matter which was dropped on the TDX dance floor — reportedly the result of a prank — completely contradicts the ideals of a tolerant and accepting college. Several members of the Greek community, including brothers of Phi Tau, have introduced recent initiatives which have helped increase dialogue on combating homophobia and encouraging a tolerant atmosphere, both on fraternity row and on the entire campus. Regrettably, the actions of a small number of members have, for the time being, overshadowed these efforts.

p. The fraternity situation on campus is an interesting one. With seven fraternities currently living in such close quarters, and another three slated to return to the Units next fall, the fraternities are constantly interacting with one another. This has the potential to be beneficial for all parties, yet all too often fraternity rivalries prevail and things get out of hand. We realize that this housing situation differs from other schools, where fraternities enjoy the luxuries of separate housing where they are not constantly prone to police inspections and an administrative watchdog, but this does not excuse fraternity members from displaying the maturity that should be expected from any student of the College.

p. We applaud members of Phi Tau for acknowledging their role in the incident and accepting that such behavior is unacceptable. It is no surprise that alcohol is often involved, and that situations such as this have the tendency to escalate beyond control. While accepting responsibility and being apologetic for such actions are notable starts, actions must be taken on the part of Greek organizations to ensure that these incidents do not occur.

p. Individual members must be educated and informed, much like any other student on this campus should understand the principles of tolerance and open-mindedness as they relate to sexual orientation at a liberal arts college. Fraternity members, in addition, must also understand that their actions have the potential to reflect poorly and often unfairly on their brothers.

p. Campus organizations are known for their diversity and effectiveness in increasing awareness about important campus issues. Fraternities are no different. It is often the case that actions or mistakes of one member are absent in his fellow members. The amount of self-governance which exists in most Greek organizations gives the group the power to handle problems with members internally and prevent future occurrences of this sort. We hope that an active and honest approach is taken by the leaders of these organizations to ensure that all members realize that, regardless of the circumstances, such behavior is not only juvenile, but may have extremely negative consequences for the fraternity as a whole.

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