Recent incident indicative of flawed system



Column by Austin Hill

I figured I should write an article on the person wrapped in toilet paper and set afire because that is what college kids care about.

UK closed down a fraternity because some people got drunk and got an asinine idea — that has been top billing for the last five days. Online comments on the news story were full of exchanges between the current and former Greek members, swapping trash talk and stories about chest-beating barbaric societies where people go to fit in with one another.

I can see the wrath building in the eyes of the readers now and fraternity and sorority members are probably ready to wreak havoc on my head — but these organizations are a timeless faction of college life that do all this good service to the community.

It is these people who are picking up trash after football games, spending time with the disabled and raising money for all kinds of social causes.

My question is: would these same people not be doing the same things if they were not placed beneath the brand of these organizations? Is that what these societies are really about — good service, with a stress on academia, community work and good, clean fun?

From lot of angles it looks like these organizations are places where kids go to party, get drunk and feel popular. The service angle seems to be secondary to a lifestyle that creates social cliques for these weekend warrior fests of binge drinking and social debauchery.

When parents or officials come knocking after one of these incidents to reprimand someone, the first thing that comes spewing out is, “But we do this great work for the community,” like it is a get out of jail free card.

I am not naive to the fact that there are some organizations worse than others. I am sure it is true there are the good cliques that preach abstinence, and sobriety (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

The horrible truth, though, is the whole does suffer from its parts. For all the people that belong to these groups, there is a population of people that don’t, that see the whole thing as a scam.

A group of people see these groups as a guaranteed way to find yourself circling the drain of worthlessness two years after entering a promising start to a now-defunct collegiate career; now wasting mommy and daddy’s money, reaffirming yourselves through a brethren of losers and sucking up good oxygen.

I know plenty of people who do these same kinds of good work in the community and do not belong to social cliques and don’t ask for a pat on the back for doing these deeds. These people do volunteer work without having to make a shield for it.

Just because you scoop up another man’s beer cans doesn’t mean you get a medal of honor.

With every major incident like the flammable mummy, there are many that go unreported and ignored. Whenever these things happen, each chapter comes out trying to play damage control. Everyone is able to disassociate themselves by knowing all the stories about the others.

Maybe UK President Lee Todd should make these organizations accountable for their knowledge more often. Either watch each other’s back earlier to prevent this kind of thing or punish the whole bunch of them.

When I read one girl post online that SAE stood for “Sexual Assault Expected,” I was floored. If that is the kind of thing that is known or speculated and not shared with someone of authority, then everyone needs to go.

Punishing the whole for the sum of the parts seems like the strategy most employed. Look at the proposed housing bill or the party plan in the same way. This would keep the same spirit with hopefully better results.

It sends a message to students that if you want to act like children, you can be treated like children. And if you go to a fraternity keg party, don’t squeeze the Charmin.