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Greek Life

Tennessee Bill Would Ban Fraternities and Sororities

The bill would prohibit fraternities and sororities from being “recognized by, associated with, or operating on the campus of, any state institution of higher education.”

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Rep. John DeBerry Jr., a Democrat representing Memphis, introduced a bill in the state house this week to ban fraternities and sororities from state colleges and universities. The move comes in the wake of a year of hazing incidents that have been directly linked to the deaths of several undergraduates across the country, including LSU and Penn State.

“The continuation of assaults and hazing incidents and just bad behavior — not just in Tennessee, but all over the country — at some point in time, you have to force the argument and force the discussion,” DeBerry told Time.

Many universities across the nation have moved to suspend or restrict fraternities, while some schools have banned Greek Life organizations from serving alcohol at official events.

Incidents at Texas State, Florida State and others have led those schools to take action at against fraternity chapters. Earlier this week, a sorority at George Washington University was forced to terminate the memberships of three students after they were found to be responsible for a racist Snapchat post. 

That followed a racist social media rant from a University of Alabama sorority member, who was expelled from the school shortly after the MLK Day outburst.

DeBerry’s proposed law would ban fraternities and sororities from being “recognized by, associated with, or operating on the campus of, any state institution of higher education.”

The legislation likely faces significant opposition from Greek Life organizations, six of whom released a statement regarding the bill late this week.

“While colleges and universities are facing critical challenges, fraternities and sororities are actively partnering with campuses to implement measures to enhance health and safety, and we invite true collaboration and dialogue with public officials as we focus on solutions,” the six groups said in the statement. “Together, as interfraternal organizations, we call on Rep. DeBerry to withdraw his bill, which if implemented, would have a chilling effect on a student’s basic constitutional rights of freedom of expression and association.”

Academics

Yale Starts Financial Aid Program to Cover Sorority Dues

Yale University hopes to reduce financial distress caused by membership dues with a new financial aid program.

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For people in Greek life, membership costs can be a source of financial distress. Yale University hopes to change that with a new financial aid program.

The Yale Panhellenic Council announced that they will be launching their first financial aid program this Spring semester.

Each of Yale’s four sororities, Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi will receive roughly $200 to cover for membership dues according to Panhellenic Council President Lucy Friedmann ’19.

Members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority tabling on campus.

“We decided that as a body, we have the capacity to give more money,” Friedmann said to Yale Daily News. “It’ll be up to each sorority’s discretion whether they give it to one person or distribute it among people who need financial aid.”

Friedmann also said the funding for the new financial aid program will come from registration fees the council collected in previous years and has saved. According to Yale Daily News, the registration fee for sorority recruitment was $15.

Other colleges have started initiatives like that to help with membership costs in the past. At Penn State, the Panhellenic Council founded the Panhellenic Scholarship Fund in 2013 to “help multiple women who need financial assistance with their sorority dues.”

That year the fund split $3540 between 12 recipients and in 2016 it provided $3,830  to 17 recipients, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The move came after students at Penn indicated that sorority membership dues, which ranged from $550 to $917 for freshmen not living in-house in 2015, posed a significant obstacle for students from lower income backgrounds.

At Cornell University and Columbia University, financial aid does not cover sorority membership fees, though sororities at the two schools have the option of offering their own financial aid, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

 

At Yale University, Alpha Phi requires new members to pay $750 for their first semester, $430 for their second semester and $350 for subsequent semesters. Kappa asks new members to pay $495 and active members to pay $395 every subsequent semester.

Pi Phi required members to pay $665 for their first semester and $411 for each subsequent semester. Theta required new members to pay $662 for their first two semesters, and active members to pay $487 in the fall semester and $395 in the spring semester.

Some were doubtful whether the amount offered would make much of a difference.

Kat Corfman ’21, who participated in this year’s rush but decided not to join a sorority, said to Yale Daily News that she appreciated the Panhellenic Council’s efforts to make Greek life more accessible at Yale but is unsure whether $200 would “make much of a dent,” considering the total cost of dues for each member.

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Greek Life

Penn State Football Trainer Resigns in Wake of Hazing Death

Tim Bream lived in fraternity house in which pledge Timothy Piazza sustained injuries that lead to his death.

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The head football trainer for Penn State, Tim Bream, is resigning a year after his involvement in a Beta Theta Pi hazing death. Bream was living in the fraternity house at the time of the young man’s death as an advisor.

In his testimony regarding the event last August, Bream said: “I, in no way, shape, or form, would give permission to any type of alcohol abuse, gauntlet, or anything like that.” The members of the now-defunct fraternity are facing charges for the death including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

The parents of the young man who died last year, Timothy Piazza, are reportedly happy that Bream is retiring.

In a statement regarding Bream’s involvement, the Piazzas said, “there is no way he didn’t know there was an illegal hazing event with alcohol going on and because he lived there for years, there is no way he didn’t know there was a history of illegal hazing and excessive drinking going on.”

There was no official reason given by Bream for his retirement. Penn State athletics said in a statement that Bream will be retiring at the end of the month and that they wish him luck in his future endeavors. Before working for Penn State athletics, he worked for the Chicago Bears and the athletic departments of the University of Richmond, Vanderbilt University, Syracuse University, and West Virginia University.

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Greek Life

University of North Florida Bans Student Tailgating For the Rest of the Year

“Swoop-gating” is taking the heat for this decision.

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Some students at the University of North Florida (UNF) got an email recently stating that “effective immediately, all student tailgating associated with athletic events are suspended for the rest of the academic year.”

First Coast News reports that the email was sent to fraternity and sorority members whom some school officials feel are responsible for excessive drinking that was taking place at the tailgates. A student had to be transported from a tailgate to receive medical attention last week.

UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon told the Florida Times-Union that, “tailgating, by definition, is probably not what is going on.”

The pre-basketball game gatherings are called “Swoop-gating” at UNF and reports say typically around 1,000 students will show up, but only around 200 actually head inside to see the game. This is what seems to have prompted school officials to drop the hammer.

“The rest of them stay out there and drink,” Moon said. “That’s not what tailgating is, not what it should be. It should be about school spirit.”

The UNF basketball team practices at UNF Arena (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

For their part, basketball players said canceling the tailgates will also cancel much of the energy of the home crowd during games.

The Times-Union reported:

Locked in a tight race for conference positioning, coach Matthew Driscoll was clearly frustrated by the decision to suspend tailgates the rest of the season.

“It’s almost a slap in the face,” Driscoll said. “Like we did something wrong or the guys did something wrong. That’s the part that hurts.”

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