We’re proud of the student leaders of the fraternities and sororities at Washington State University.
The Pullman campus has been plagued by all kinds of tragedy this semester, from rapes to assaults to injuries and hospitalizations, many traced back in some way to Greek Row and its party culture.
These are not the kind of phone calls any parent wants to receive, and we sure can’t imagine it’s the college experience these young students expected. Instead of learning and thriving, alcohol and drugs have created a damaging culture for many on their first extended stay away from home.
Last month, a student was found dead in his bed at a fraternity house. And though the official cause of death has not yet been reported, that may have been the final heartbreak to bring some action.
Last week, the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils announced that all social events were to be suspended for the rest of the semester, whether alcohol would be present or not.
It’s time to take a deep breath and regroup on Greek Row and beyond. And we’re impressed that it’s the student leaders themselves taking the action, not the university administration. We don’t know if the university has additional plans of its own to address the problems on campus, but these young people took initiative nonetheless.
We remember the days when, for students and alumni, it was a proud — and misguided — moment to have WSU named as one of the top party schools in the nation.
Bad things have always happened on campus, especially late in the night and involving alcohol. Add the resurgence of drug use to the mix and things have gotten even more dangerous, whether it be abuse or illegal use of prescription drugs or street drugs.
Earlier this year, following the arrest of a sorority member for selling cocaine on campus to a police informant, the Associated Students of WSU issued a statement about its concern over increased use of the drug. The honor student was later convicted of drug possession and jailed in exchange for dropping more serious charges of felony cocaine delivery. At the time of her arrest, she was listed as her sorority’s president of membership.
During the ban, chapters will be charged with developing plans to create awareness regarding sexual assaults, abuse of alcohol, abuse of illegal and prescription drugs, falls and mental health.
Any fraternity or sorority violating the ban on social functions will face potential revocation of its presence on campus.
The letter issued by the group following the decision talks about the “negative” reputation of Greek Row and the need to rebrand to preserve the Greek community, so it does have the feel of a marketing campaign. Whatever the motivation, it seems like a good time to take a break and look to the long-term.
It’s unfortunate that it has come to this and that all fraternity and sorority members must be sanctioned for what are likely the actions of a minority. The ban is only in place through the end of the semester. Students have the week of Thanksgiving off and finals end Dec. 16. And the ban is only for the Greek system. We think they can make it.