When will this end? A need for accountability in Greek life


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Editorial Board

Jacob Heil. Four-year-old Marco Shemwell. Collin Wiant. Maxwell Gruver. Stone Foltz. Clayton Real. Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood. 

All of these tragedies have one thing in common — they are all tied to Greek life.

Earlier this week, Fayette County’s coroner said that a possible cause of Hazelwood’s death is “presumed alcohol toxicity,” but the toxicology report is still pending and will be released in a few weeks.

Recently, during the pandemic, several Greek organizations were suspended or punished by UK, in part, for failure to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. 

Rather than the university taking responsibility for hazing incidents, on its Greek life website, it says that victims and witnesses are accountable for reporting them.

The students who should be reporting hazing could be scared to step up to the plate. It shouldn’t be on them to fix this. 

Between encouraging risky lifestyle choices, demolishing mental health and influencing the way in which students do most everything in college, Greek life can have great risks.

The Spring 2021 Chapter President Resource Manual says when a student identifies a crisis to first tell the appropriate chapter members, chapter president and event monitors.

The second step in this plan is to seek help, which includes calling 911 or the Lexington Police Department non-emergency number. 

Why is calling 911 not the first step? 

Reform of the guidelines of Greek life on UK’s campus would be a much better way of exhibiting student success rather than just suspending FarmHouse Fraternity for a while, only to allow every other Greek-affiliated organization that isn’t currently suspended the possibility to continue doing activities that can have the same result. 

In the past, some Greek organizations have had to overcome classism, racism, homophobia and sexism. Hopefully the organizations will continue to work towards becoming an accessible institution for all students.

One would think — with the existence of customs and a community that harbors strict gender roles — that each Greek organization would do anything they could to keep their reputation glowing and glistening for the outside world. 

They have demonstrated time and time again that in most situations, Greek life will not change their ways without significant reform. 

Delta Tau Delta is on disciplinary probation for hazing and misuse of alcohol until March 31, 2022.

Alpha Sigma Phi is on disciplinary probation for hazing, misuse of alcohol and failure to follow UK COVID-19 health and safety guidelines until April 21, 2022. 

Delta Sigma Phi is revoked of their registered student organization status for harm and threat of harm and failure to follow UK COVID-19 health and safety guidelines until May 6, 2022. 

Kappa Alpha Psi is revoked of their registered student organization status for abuse of the process, harm and threat of harm and hazing until March 28, 2023.

And that’s not all of them.

In response to Hazelwood’s death, a letter was sent out on Tuesday from the UK administration. In it, Capilouto announced that FarmHouse activities have been suspended until the end of the investigation and recommendations for the fraternity will ensue after.

Because of the recent events associated with belonging to a sorority or fraternity, UK should develop better measures to protect students, in Greek life or not.

Closing a few Greek organizations at a time has been done before. It is time for UK to deal more directly and harshly with those who can’t follow the rules and keep their own members safe. 

Up to now it has been like putting a bandage on a gunshot wound.