Brotherhood, sisterhood, acceptance, community and belonging. These flashy words, often vocalized by conventionally attractive and well-dressed students, aim to convince teenagers and young adults to join a Greek organization, a membership to last a lifetime. However, participating in Fraternity and Sorority Life at The College of William and Mary has granted me lifelong friendships and a friendly, accepting community hundreds of miles from home.
Although I was unsure of the benefits of joining Fraternity and Sorority Life before my freshman year, having heard many of the highly publicized stories of chapters across the nation guilty of hazing and sexual misconduct, I have deeply enjoyed my time as a member of an organization that promotes scholarship, women’s empowerment and love for the community. Unfortunately, not every member of our campus has the same experience when they choose to join Fraternity and Sorority Life. Especially in the past few years, individual chapters have tarnished the reputation of the College’s Fraternity and Sorority Life due to irresponsibility and an ignorance of the ramifications of their members’ actions.
The Gamma chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the College has proven itself to be yet another cliched representation of entitlement and ignorance with the recent loss of its charter due to ‘violations of international standards’. As the second oldest chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKA) in the nation, the harsh punishment imposed on the Gamma chapter shows that age, in the case of Fraternity and Sorority Life, is seldom an accurate predictor of maturity. Although Pi Kappa Alpha officials were vague in describing what caused such a drastic decision, the rare occurrence of a chapter’s charter being revoked shows that the significance of this decision cannot be understated. While there are absolutely quality individual members of the now disbanded chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha at the College, this punishment came as a result of the group’s culture. In any organization, the actions of few can and will have ramifications for the entire group. This is why the importance of education on issues like sexual assault, respect for all members and responsibility should continue to be emphasized by Interfraternity Council at the College and at universities elsewhere.
Moving forward, the College’s administration owes transparency to all students, but especially to members of Fraternity and Sorority Life. The safety, well-being and contentment of the student body should never come at the expense of one organization. All organizations, especially sororities and fraternities, must be held to a higher standard. Intimidation and any verbal or physical action that causes an individual to feel out of place or unwelcomed in an organization should never be tolerated. My hope is that other Fraternity and Sorority Life chapters on campus will take this as a learning opportunity to remind every member of every chapter of the original values of such a community: inclusion, mutual respect, community and philanthropic engagement.
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