Hazing News

Michigan Daily commentary: Sig Ep attacks columnist for stereotyping fraternities

Viewpoint: Greek bashing baseless and shameful

By Alex Prosperi on 9/21/07

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Since freshman year, I have been a proud and active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. So you can imagine my outrage at Theresa Kennelly’s column in Tuesday’s Daily, which said things like: “I can think of several things you can do to change your life other than choosing some Greek letters.” (Rushing into trouble, 09/18/2007). Rushing gives a student an opportunity to meet new people and experience a different aspect of college life. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know it changed a lot of people’s lives for the better.

I won’t lie. Hazing does happen in the Greek community, but the stereotypical “frat-like” pledging and hazing that people assume is widespread occurs at a very low rate. But I’m not writing to talk about rush or hazing. I’m writing to secure the integrity of my house as well as all the other great fraternities and sororities on campus. SigEp is a national anti-hazing and anti-pledging fraternity. Don’t believe me? I have yet to take a sip of alcohol at the University.

We are built around the Balanced Man Principle, which holds three cardinal principles – virtue, diligence and brotherly love. Brothers go through the Sigma, Phi and Epsilon challenges to gain more knowledge and assume greater leadership in the house. Our house holds things like community service, intramural participation and bonding experiences in the highest regard. We have brothers involved in Indian American Student Association, The Michigan Daily, the Interfraternity Council, Circle K, The Detroit Project, campus orientation tours and Dance Marathon, among others. That’s just from one fraternity.

Year after year Greeks are painted as brainless alcoholics, more concerned with the next mixer than the next midterm. And year after year, we smile and point to statistics that show, once again, that the Greeks on average have higher GPAs than the campus as a whole.

Kennelly mentions that Greeks are more into drinking than philanthropy. Such a generalization is unfair. Mine is one of several houses that have never faced social probation for alcohol-related issues, and there are a great number of Greeks on campus who don’t even drink. The Michigan Alpha chapter of SigEp participated in nearly 4,300 hours of community service last year alone and raised upwards of $14,000 for various charities.

Again, SigEp isn’t alone in achievements. Every year, Phi Gamma Delta does a rivalry run to Columbus to raise money for the American Cancer Society. This year it has teamed with Pi Kappa Alpha to make the event even bigger. Speaking of big events, Greek Week is one of the largest student-run philanthropic events on campus.

Kennelly decries the Greeks for their drunken mess on State and Hoover on football Saturdays. Is there no other drunken mess around campus? Some of the best moments in my memory of SigEp come from football Saturdays, and once again, I don’t drink. For a writer to tell anyone in the Greek community that there is a more life changing decision than choosing to go Greek is a shot in the gut to all of us.

To understand the Greek community is to recognize the diversity that the University strives to promote.

-Alex Prosperi is an LSA sophomore and a Daily sports writer.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer, former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird, finished a stint as managing editor of the Celina Daily Standard to accept a new position as managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--

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