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COMMENTARY: Philanthropy, bonds formed in greek life help campuses

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The Daily Targum editorial “Greek life fails to live up to its own values” ignores the fact that hazing and alcohol abuse are a societal issue faced by the whole campus community. 

Approximately half of college students are exposed to hazing in high school. Hazing is a critical issue facing campuses today across all student organizations, marching bands and athletics. Hazing is even a concern in the military.

Last year, the military released a new policy aimed to deter misconduct and harassment among service members. "The Air Force does not condone hazing in any form," said spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. "We expect our airmen to adhere to our core values at all times and treat their fellow service members with the highest degree of dignity and respect."

Fraternities continue to lead in efforts to protect students by enforcing stricter health and safety guidelines, then applied to non-fraternity students. Fraternities have policies as well as prevention programming around critical topics including alcohol and drugs, hazing and sexual misconduct. 

For decades, fraternities have spent enormous resources educating students about the dangers of hazing, how to intervene to prevent it and how to support a student who has been a victim of hazing. Each fraternity has procedures for investigating allegations of misconduct, and they work with their universities to ensure due process and compliance with both fraternity and university regulations. 

Fraternities and sororities are working with parents of hazing victims in a coalition to educate about hazing and strengthen hazing laws. The 66 fraternities of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) support the END ALL Hazing Act introduced in Congress June 2019 and also support the REACH Act introduced in 2017, which seeks to increase transparency, education and accountability and are advocating for stronger state hazing laws throughout the country.

At Rutgers University this month, coalition parents Jim Piazza and Evelyn Piazza spoke to the Scarlet Knights, along with more than 100,000 students this year, to share their personal story to educate the community on the dangers of hazing. The best way to inspire change in college students is to touch their hearts, said Judson Horras, president and CEO of the NIC. 

In working with these families, we have seen how deeply their personal stories resonate, and we have witnessed first-hand the powerful impact these parents have in helping young men and women.

The hard-alcohol ban implemented this year by the majority of fraternities across the U.S. is another action that has been taken. When you look at the big picture of alcohol abuse, for example, it is important to consider research in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 

It shows that in the U.S., 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes, each year and 97,000 students report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Clearly, alcohol abuse and sexual assault are campus-wide issues.

Fraternities are a flourishing part of the community on hundreds of campuses across the U.S. 

Fraternities provide structure, rules of conduct and discipline for members. Fraternities stress the importance of civic engagement and academic excellence. 

Financial management, conflict resolution, public relations, goal setting and basic democratic principles are everyday lessons for our members. Members manage organizations of up to 200 members, with housing facilities and annual operating budgets that can run into the high six figures.

For first-year college students, fraternities provide friendship, a sense of community and higher levels of academic and social involvement. Fraternities are places for young men to develop into leaders, philanthropists and, most importantly, scholars. 

On many campuses, the average GPA for the Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternity men is above the all-men’s average. That is supported by fraternity requirements of members maintaining a specified grade point average or higher.

Men are going to college with less frequency than in the past, and not persisting to graduation at the same rates. For every four women graduating from four-year colleges, there are only three men. Fraternities provide the academic support and connection that helps members reach the finish line. 

College fraternities and sororities serve as the nation’s largest network of young volunteers. Nationwide, fraternity chapters raise more than $20 million annually and provide more than 3.8 million hours of service in their local communities. 

At Rutgers and other campuses, fraternities make a positive impact on the community. 

 Todd Shelton is the Chief Communication Officer of the North American Interfraternity Conference. 

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