Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Miami U Greeks vs Core Principles

Suspensions show Greek organizations can stray from their ideals
By Christen Claytor

Although Scholarship and Learning, Leadership, Community, Service and Philanthropy, and Brotherhood and Sisterhood serve as the five core principles of the greek community on Miami University's campus, recently in the news the Greek community has received more negative publicity, which differs from the core principles.

Out of the 14,385 undergraduate students who attend Miami, 3,191 of these students identify with the Greek community —this translates to a third of the student population.

"I think we have a great student body that is very active in our community, not only internally just within the chapters where a person can develop his or her own leadership skills and personal well being, but also do a great service for Miami University being involved in various leadership capacities and with in the community just doing community service and outreach, which I think makes it a very great thing for a person to be involved with," said April Robles, assistant director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Leadership.

The Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Leadership promotes the members of Miami's Greek community to be involved in the Miami, Oxford and surrounding communities. The sororities and fraternities on Miami's campus are under the councils of the Pan-Hellenic Council, the Inter Fraternal Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

The organizations within the councils often host philanthropies and service projects within the community, as well as volunteer in the Talawanda school district. Hundreds members of Greek-lettered organizations volunteer in Adopt-A-School.

A few of the major philanthropies the students participate in are Jamboree, which is a carnival experience for children in the Talawanda School District, Spring Clean, which is where volunteers clean the Oxford community, and Adopt-A-Block, where volunteers clean blocks in Oxford for the elderly and the community in general.

Even though a third of the Miami population is involved in the Greek community and the Greek community encourages its members to positively impact the community and the develop leadership skills in the process there are times instances where members of the Greek community are subjected to negative situations, such as hazing incidents.

All hazing information the Cliff Alexander office receives in turned over to the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution to be dealt with because hazing is a violation of the university's Student Code of Conduct. Chapters accused of hazing violations are subject to participate in educational programs or be closed.

In the past year Miami has had two chapter closings occur, said Robles.

One of the chapters that was recently closed was the Phi Gamma Delta Chapter, also known as FIJI. Nationally, Phi Gamma Delta has no tolerance of hazing and suspended Miami's chapter for a minimum of one year. Kevin McGraw, the previous graduate advisor of Miami's FIJI chapter suspects the suspension will last three to four years, which McGraw considers to be harsher than Miami University's punishment.

"I think hazing is a problem on all college campuses right now," said McGraw. "I think society really has no tolerance whatsoever," he said.

McGraw has been a member of Phi Gamma Delta for 20 years and served as an advisor for the past 15 years — he was the regional advisor of all Southern Ohio chapters for the past three years and served as Miami's FIJI chapter's graduate advisor for nine months prior to the closing of the chapter.

"I think the most common problem is that people don't see or draw the line between hazing and it being mentally and physically abusive versus good ol' college pranks or what have you," said Robles.

The FIJI chapter was accused of participating in two hazing incidents during their membership process — having pledges dress like bulls of the Barcelona and run through the slant-walk and having pledges drink alcohol in Hueston Woods, said McGraw.

While Robles believes that hazing is cyclical, McGraw believes young women and young men constantly attempt to push boundaries to see what they can get away with.

"We try to be proactive to work with chapters not only just like on one-on-one consultations with chapter presidents and members, but also providing different programs for chapters to learn facilitation skills and different ways to make a well-rounded and positive new member experience," said Robles.