What if you got rid of the entire athletic program because you had a number of teams that were causing problems? Nuwer said. I think its an unusual response.
UCFs Greek ban isnt permanent, and Ehasz said activities could be restored as soon as next month provided the organizations agree to beefed-up university oversight. What the specific new rules will be is still unclear (the university says that will be hashed out in negotiations), but it may include the addition of a live-in school staff member to every fraternity house.
Some UCF students are angry about the shutdown, and they accuse university leadership of overreaching.
Almost all of the Greek organizations adhere to the rules given by UCF, said student Elisha Rodriguez. But of course one group messes up and ruins it for everyone else.
Rodriguez said she was planning to join a sorority this semester, but now wont bother.
UCF leaders say they are reacting not to just one particular incident, but rather a pattern of hazing and alcohol abuse among Greek student groups. A university conduct summary spreadsheet lists dozens of rules violations in the past couple of years, including repeated cases of hazing, underage drinking, and damage to property.
Thus far, no other Florida universities have announced plans to follow in UCFs footsteps. The University of Florida which suspended two fraternities last year for hazing said it conducts vigorous enforcement of student safety rules, but that enforcement is still on a case-by-case basis.
Local universities such as the University of Miami and Florida International University said little when asked about UCFs action. UM declined to comment, and FIU released only a short written statement on the matter.
FIU, through Campus Life/Sorority & Fraternity Life, provides numerous workshops, programs, and retreats each year to review policy and educate all students and organizations on hazing and safe alcohol practices, wrote Alexis Hamilton Fulks, FIUs assistant director of Campus Life/Sorority & Fraternity Life.
Both FIU and UM have had their own instances of Greek misbehavior and/or alcohol abuse. FIU suspended the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity in 2002 for an act of hazing (paddling) that was so extreme the student was seen limping on a swollen left leg. In 2008, FIUs Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was caught filming a pornographic video at its on-campus fraternity house.
At UM, student Chad Meredith died in 2001 while trying to swim across Lake Osceola with two officers of Kappa Sigma a fraternity he wished to join. The group had been drinking, and Meredith drowned. The Florida Legislature responded by passing the Chad Meredith Act, which makes hazing a third-degree felony if it results in serious injury or death. Floridas anti-hazing laws are still among the toughest in the country.
Defenders of Greek life are quick to note that young adults in general, regardless of what student clubs they join, are known to sometimes abuse alcohol. Some research studies, however, have found a greater prevalence of excessive drinking among members of fraternities and sororities. In addition, some of the risky behaviors exhibited by Greek groups for example, the dangerous alcohol enemas performed by a frat at the University of Tennessee are typically not found in the general population.
For schools such as UCF and FIU, which have worked to shed their old reputations as boring commuter schools, Greeks have a special symbolic importance. Though Greeks are only about 5 percent of all students at UCF (and less than 4 percent at FIU), their presence helps the universities pitch themselves as the complete package to prospective students. Greek students also tend to be hyper involved in school activities, which helps further breathe life into the campuses.
Nothing would get done on campus without the Greeks, said FIU student Stephen Nunez, who founded the schools Theta Chi fraternity last year. No one would go to football games, no one would care. No one would participate in student government, no one. Its all Greek.
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