EDITORIAL: Marquette greek life needs to refocus on mission of integrity

Illustration by Rob Gebelhoff/ robert.gebelhoff@marquette.edu

Illustration by Rob Gebelhoff/ robert.gebelhoff@marquette.edu

Despite the commitments to service and the community it purports, the Marquette Greek system demonstrated a pattern of misbehavior over the past few years.

Marquette fraternities were involved in several incidents – as recently as the past few weeks – approaching the announcement of a new fraternity and sorority on campus by the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council. On April 5, a student reported to the Department of Public Safety an incident of sexual assault by another student at Triangle Fraternity. DPS also issued a report last week indicating hazing at an unnamed fraternity on campus.

These incidents are only adding to a longer string of violations. Last year, Sigma Chi was suspended for one semester due to hazing violations, and in 2012, six fraternities on campus – Delta Chi, Omega Delta, Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Delta, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Triangle – were placed on probation due to alcohol violations.

These reports portray Marquette Greek Life in a very different way than the university presents its fraternities and sororities on the Greek Life page of its website.

“As a Catholic, Jesuit University,” the page reads, “Marquette Greek Life serves the University Mission with integrity and aspires for excellence while respecting the dignity and diversity of its members. Our Greek community exists to enhance the lives of individuals by raising awareness and serving the needs of Marquette University and the greater Milwaukee community. Through the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, Marquette Greek Life strives to strengthen its members through scholarship, leadership and service.”

Considering the recent behavior at Marquette’s Greek Life establishments, the decision to introduce a new fraternity and sorority to campus next year comes at a peculiar time. Delta Tau Delta, the proposed new fraternity, will come to campus with a clean slate, but will join a Greek community where social violations often overshadow contributions to the greater community.

In many ways, Greek organizations on campus strive to meet the university statements. Sororities and fraternities often hold philanthropic fundraising events and require members to participate in Hunger Clean-Up. Some affiliate themselves with specific organizations and raise money on their behalf.

If a new fraternity and sorority are on their way to Marquette, members of Greek Life need to begin considering their unsound social behavior and recommit themselves to these philanthropic causes.

Delta Tau Delta has an opportunity to set a new precedent for fraternities on campus, but it also runs the risk of falling into the same behavior. With a new fraternity and sorority on their way, members of Greek life need to begin reconsidering this social behavior and pursue causes outside of organized social events.

The university paints Greek Life in a positive light on its website, and Delta Tau Delta has a similarly positive motto: “Committed to Lives of Excellence.” Other establishments on campus do the same.

All fraternities and sororities commit to these mottoes in theory, but at Marquette, many fail to demonstrate “dignity” or “integrity” in practice. It is not up to the fraternity itself to follow this motto – Marquette chapters stem from national organizations. But rather, it is up to the students who join.

Social misbehavior, hazing and alcohol violations all begin with individuals and work their way out to represent the organizations as a whole. The few individuals who engage in poor behavior and violate the rules of the university, the Interfraternity and their specific chapters give the entire Greek system at Marquette a bad name.

The introduction of a new fraternity and sorority means Marquette is widening the influence of Greek life on campus. It is vital these organizations get back on track. Violations should not show up in headlines more frequently than service contributions. Individual students in fraternities and sororities need to veer away from this behavior, and the Greek community as a whole needs to reinvigorate its commitment to service.

  • MU Alum

    The standard Greek Life crucifixion by Marquette’s non-Greek students. Sigh…

    The discourse of perpetuating the Frat Mentality (ie rampant alcohol consumption, sexual misconduct, etc.) seems to only be popular with those from the outside who want to uphold the stereotype while discounting the innumerable deeds that Greek members do on an everyday basis. (Thanks for that plug – two sentences? Really? You shouldn’t have.)

    Not that these charges should be discounted, but take a good look around campus for all of the misconduct that happens within the non-Greek population. The basketball team allegedly rapes girls. Alcohol gets snuck into the dorms by underage kids with fake ID’s. Marquette students even get caught driving drunk. Enh, who cares.

    I guess it’s easier to pin the university communities’ ills on social and academic clubs that have a target on their back for no reason other than a lack of understanding.

    Whatever makes you sleep better at night, MUTribune.

    • MU Student

      Sounds like the MU Tribune needs to refocus it’s own mission of integrity…

  • DX

    “Violations should not show up in headlines more frequently than service contributions.” Hey Marquette Tribune, you guys can make those headlines! And yes, service contributions occur much more frequently than violations.

  • Travis Smith

    To Whom It May Concern:

    In regards to the recent “Marquette Greek Life Needs to Refocus on Mission of Integrity” editorial published in Tuesday’s Tribune, I find it imperative for me to make a statement that not only disagrees with the claims against the integrity of Marquette fraternities, but offers a different perspective for the student body to view the issue – one which the Tribune Staff has either neglected to offer or has not encountered yet.

    Obviously, the Tribune Staff will be expecting responses from the leaders of the accused Fraternities in its incendiary editorial. I hope that the arguments in this response are considered from an unbiased perspective from both the Staff and general student population, without simply defining a fraternity as “Greek” or a “Frat” – buzzwords which have derived negative connotations from films, rumors, and Youtube videos.

    This editorial is an unfair, ill-informed assault on Marquette fraternities that attempts to wholly define our organizations by a few problems that have arisen lately. Yes, there is a sexual assault and hazing accusation being investigated – I am not denying that in the slightest. However, using these incidents to state that we fraternities are straying from our/Marquette’s “mission of integrity” is inaccurate and needs to be looked at from a different perspective – one that is yet to be taken by the Tribune Staff. I have consulted with the executives of Sigma Chi here on campus, and would like to issue this statement in response to the above article.

    Marquette Greek Life (as quoted above) serves to “enhance the lives of individuals by raising awareness and serving the needs of Marquette University and the greater Milwaukee community” – and this is exactly what we do. Marquette Fraternities exist to serve as a collective social community for men to join and feel comfortable in – ones which then reach out to the university and greater Milwaukee area in hopes of assisting both through means of philanthropy and service. And that is exactly what we do. The small, acknowledging paragraph above that simply states that “fraternities and sororities often hold philanthropic fundraising events and require members to participate in Hunger Clean-Up” is a vast understatement. We are the only social organizations on campus who continuously participate so greatly in these events, benefitting both the university’s service outreach and those in need in Milwaukee. Take it from us in Kappa Sigma: this school year, we have sent droves of brothers to participate in the Coca Cola Classic, Campus Kitchens, Kohl’s Rec Classic, Jingle Bell Run, Brigg’s and Al’s Run, United Way Service Reading Day, St. Baldrick’s Cancer Awareness, Make a Difference Day, and much more – including currently setting up two days of service with the Urban Ecology Center. Kappa Sigma has also raised and donated $6,327 in philanthropy for not-for-profit organizations around the area.

    Kappa Sigma’s four pillars to live by are fellowship, scholarship, leadership, and service – but these are not solely ours to strive for. While they may be worded slightly differently, each fraternity here on campus lives through these ideals. The fellowship aspect is obviously the community that one receives as soon as they join a collective group of male college students – as shown through communal trips, sporting tournaments, and
    social events. The scholarship is demonstrated through our outstanding GPA and grade requirements. We provide study hours, group work segments, and requirements on grades to assure that everyone within our organization is excelling in the classroom first and foremost. The leadership pillar is exemplified through the fantastic positions and opportunities presented to members of our organizations – be they Executive Board positions, chair positions, or membership on the Interfraternal Council (IFC). There is even a “Greek Leadership Retreat” held once a year, which serves as a fantastic forum to teach each member the traits of a leader. Finally, the service aspect – but this should be quickly answered by everything mentioned in the paragraph above. We Fraternities and Sororities are the social student organizations on campus that donate the most money in philanthropy and dedicate the most hours in service.

    In another offer of perspective, I would like to quote a line from one of Marquette’s most successful television advertisements, which states: “We do not live in the past, but we learn from it.” Mistakes happen. And we learn from them. Take Sigma Chi for example – yes, they were indeed suspended for a semester due to a hazing allegation last
    year. As Marquette students, however, they have bounced back stronger due to their ability to learn from the past. They put themselves through a membership review during their semester on suspension, and restricted the entire organization. Sigma Chi’s new approach and focus on a mission of integrity is shining through stronger than ever before. Their successful service and philanthropic efforts – embodied by their widespread and unbelievably popular Derby Days week, overwhelms Marquette’s
    campus in spreading the service commitment of Greek Life. Sigma Chi also takes place in tutoring programs on the south side of Milwaukee, volunteer work in soup kitchens in the surrounding area, Make A Difference Day, and have held video drives within the fraternity to send movies to Africa. If we did not learn from past mistakes, we would not be successful. We would not be Marquette students. But we do, and we are.

    Finally, fraternities take an incredibly serious stance against sexual assault. Anybody – I repeat, anybody­ – even remotely associated with such claims is immediately put up for membership review. We as a collective entity on campus do not stand for such things, simply put. There is no more I can say on that subject to emphasize my point.

    One can take a “glass half empty” approach to life and solely focus on the few negative elements and dissenting opinions that arise, and proceed to use them to define an organization while completely disregarding the overwhelming good that emits from them. If you are going to define our fraternities based on alcohol violations, sexual assault allegations, and claims of hazing, you would have to review other organizations on campus with the same “glass half empty” approach (and yes, hazing/alcohol violation/sexual assault accusations have indeed been brought against other student organizations and D-I sports over the past few semesters). But I urge you not to do
    that, for none of us deserve to be looked at with such a cynical approach. Instead, please take a step back and realize how much good there is on our campus, emitting from all of our student organizations.

    We are incredibly proud to call ourselves one of the fraternities of Marquette University, for we are completely devoted to enhancing our member’s lives through bonds of fellowship, strengthening each other through scholarship, leadership, and service. If any of you out there are even remotely interested in benefitting from such a unique experience, I encourage you to come check out all of our fraternities during Fall Rush, and decide for yourself. We welcome Delta Tau Delta with incredible excitement, and look forward to their contributions to the incredible things that we do here on campus.

    Travis Smith
    President – Kappa Sigma Fraternity (Xi-Xi)
    Broadcasting & English Literature
    Marquette University 2015
    In collaboration with Andrew Kreatsoulas (President of Sigma Chi) and Jacob Bernstein (President Elect of Sigma Chi)

    PS – If you have any questions or would like to institute an open forum for public debate on this issue, I and the other fraternity presidents would be more than happy to set up such an event.

    • MUGREEK

      Could not agree more