Monday, October 18, 2010


The Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values has teamed up with LoveisLouder to raise the volume around a critical message -- that love and support is more powerful than the external and internal voices that bring us down, cause us pain and make us feel hopeless. We hope you will join us in raising the volume on Tuesday, October 19th. In coordination with the #LoveISLouder campaign, we'd like to share a number of valuable resources.

For more information on dealing with harrasment, depression or suicide, and to view the real stories of people dealing with emotional issues, visit:

Problems bigger than you can handle? Please contact one of the following 24-hour hotlines for help.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline - 1-866-331-9474
  • The Trevor Lifeline (Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ Youth) - 866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
  • Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), press 1
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
  • 24-hour online hotline:
  • Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse) - 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)
  • CDC-INFO (Formerly known as the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotline) - 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
  • Local Authorities - 911
How to call the police:

For more information on these important topics, please check out the sites below.

Dating abuse:
The Safe Space:
Love is not Abuse: 

Digital abuse / cyberbullying:
A THIN LINE (MTV’s digital abuse campaign):
Wired Safety:

Eating disorders:
National Eating Disorders Association:
Hotline: 1-800-931-2237 (8:30am-4:30pm Pacific time)

Girls’ and women’s health:
National Women's Health Information Center:
Hotline: 1-800-994-9662 (Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm)

Mental health and suicide prevention:
Half of Us (mtvU’s mental health campaign):
The Trevor Project provides suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Veterans:

Phone number blocking:
A THIN LINE (MTV’s digital abuse campaign):  (under ‘draw your line’)

Relationships and sexual health:
CDC's National HIV and STD Testing Resources:
It’s Your Sex Life (MTV’s sexual health campaign):
Planned Parenthood:

Sexual assault:
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network:

Social networking sites:
Facebook Safety Center:
MySpace Support:
Twitter Harassment and Violent Threats Policy:

Substance abuse:
MTV’s substance abuse resource page:
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s Facility Locator:

BRAVE (MTV’s veterans resource page):
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best of Busted!

Acting up in Athens, OH: Pi Beta Phi

The Parkersburg Art Center has been compensated by its insurance carrier for damages claimed after an Ohio University sorority formal in March. [The Attorney representing the art center] said the center has been paid $46,555 by the West Virginia Board of Risk and Management for damages done during the March 6 formal by Pi Beta Phi.

Last month, the director of the art center, sent a scathing letter to [the] chapter president of the sorority, saying the group did substantial damage to the facility and engaged in inappropriate behavior, including sexual incidents.

The damage necessitated repairs to the hardwood dance floor, a bathroom, the ballroom ceiling, carpet and baseboard. Beer keg taps were also taken, she said.

[Pi Phi Chapter President] alleged the damages were caused from a food fight and two people attempting to engage in sexual relations in a bathroom. According to the letter, a bartender and members of the catering staff also witnessed sex acts.

"The professional bartender hired for the event personally witnessed a couple engaging in sexual congress while surrounded by a cheering throng," the letter states. "The catering team interrupted two of your members engaging in sexual relations under one of the banquet tables."

The letter also includes claims from a bartender that guests attempted to tear off her clothing and take money from her apron pocket.

"The behavior of your members and their guests in our facility transcends normal student hijinks," [the Director of the art center] said in the letter.

Photographs of the damages were taken a day or two after the event, she said.

Last week the sorority's national office issued a statement to The News and Sentinel stating it would defend itself. The Ohio University Judiciary Office also is reviewing the incident.

The national admitted someone stole keg taps from the center, but other claims were "grossly exaggerated."

"Those charges are based solely on the letter from the art center and a police report. It is important to recognize that the police were not contacted by the art center until a month after the event," the statement said. "The police report simply concludes that the venue's complaints are a civil, not a criminal, matter. We agree." ….

Damages alleged in the police report were from spilled drinks, chewing gum on the carpet and dance floor and a food fight along with the theft of several taps to the beer kegs. The damages exceeded a $1,200 security deposit from the sorority.

For the record, the nearly $50,000 the Art Center was paid in damages will get an out-of-state student nearly two full years of tuition with room and board at Ohio University, according to the University’s Undergraduate Admissions Tuition & Fees web page. Or, for a different perspective, that’s a decent down payment on a half-a-million-dollar house. A SORORITY did enough damage to an ART CENTER to warrant an insurance payout worth TWO YEARS of college. We think that’s worth yelling about, at least a little.

In response to the alleged situation, Ohio University has since placed the Pi Beta Phi chapter on probation with sanctions including financial restitution and community service. Because we don’t think we need to restate how appalling such behavior is, let’s focus on this sanction, shall we? We understand that it can be very, very difficult for the powers that be – whether civil or criminal court or a university conduct system – to prove to the required threshold that a certain behavior occurred without witnessing it personally, we still believe that a) financial restitution should not be something the chapter had to be told to do and b) community service is a crappy, cop-out kind of sanction.

First, community service is a cornerstone of fraternity. The chapter should be doing this anyway. They shouldn’t be told to do it. It should be something we aspire to do, not punishment. What message does that send? Forget sending it to a sorority; let’s talk about the message that sends to college students? If you are bad, you must serve the community. So “good” students shouldn’t’? Ugh. That’s just backwards. We realize we tend to critique here at Busted!, and we don’t want anyone to say we aren’t about solutions.

So, here’s one: instead of sanctioning “community service,” try sanctioning some restorative action. For example, the chapter has to give their time, talent and treasure to improve the Art Center – the actual facility it damaged. Could the Center use some extra hands laying mulch next spring? (And, trust us, laying mulch is good, sweaty, manual labor). If yes, then the Ohio University chapter of Pi Beta Phi should be there with gloves on ready to go. Do they need volunteer docents? Then every Pi Phi should readily give 10 hours a semester to do so. Let’s not let these ladies get away with making a few cards out of construction paper and sending them to senior citizens they’ll never meet to make up for harm they caused live and in person.

Coming Out, Greek Life, & Changing a Nation

It’s rather strange that in the days before National Coming Out Day we are writing and talking about the tragic loss of life. National Coming Out Day was created to celebrate our lives and to celebrate the enthusiasm and cathartic nature of being who we are. It has been twelve years since Matthew Shepard was left to die on a fence outside of Laramie, Wyoming. A decade later, we are now mourning the untimely passing of Tyler, Seth, Raymond, Billy, Cody, Asher, Harrison, Felix, and Caleb- nine young lives that could not see beyond the homophobia and picture a life worth living. Unfortunately, there are many unnamed lives that were taken due to the hate and homophobia along with the nine lives that we are aware of.  Even worse, is there will be more lives in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.  The Trevor Project ( estimates that over ten thousand LGBTIQQ youth will take their own lives within the next year.

We are struck by the complexity of emotion that goes through us with each new suicide and related news stories.  This past month has brought about the dissonance of youth and experience.   If we would have known in our teens what we know now, we might not have been scared, confused or insecure.  We love what being gay and out has brought to our lives - friends, love laughter, peace and family.  To each of the lives lost, we want to shout at the top of our lungs -- "it gets better...what are you doing... just give it a few more days, months or years... we got through it and so will you!"  We often ask ourselves, if we had had an "us or someone like us" when we were growing up, would we be different?  Perhaps we would be less jaded, but we also might be less resilient.

We also know deep down just how they must have been feeling- "the anxiety of a parent or friend finding out...the lonely isolation of not knowing who to talk to...not being able to trust all of my friends with this secret...and trying to find just that one person who understands." Many of us within our community have felt this lonely and unworthy, especially as we were coming to terms with our identity no matter what age we are when we come out. We got through it and we have danced onto the other side and celebrated. But we have forgotten to turn around and reach back offering a shoulder or hand to those who are struggling. We have moved on without offering as much as an ear to listen or a nod to acknowledge the pain. We need to support each other through all of our times, not just the highs and the lows, but each and every day. Isn’t this what we all learned during our member education process?

This past month Campus Pride ( released the “2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People” which included 5,149 participants (LGBTIQQ students, faculty, staff, and administrators) representing over two thousand campuses in all fifty states. The report discovered that LGBTIQQ students, faculty, and staff remain at significantly higher risk, compared with their heterosexual and gender conforming counterparts, for harassment on our colleges and universities. Participants reported that much of the neglect or overt hostility and harassment they experience on college and university campuses comes directly from professors and staff employees, and also from adult members within the off-campus community. Participants often claimed that, overall, their institutions are doing little or nothing to improve conditions.

Complacency and inaction demonstrates acceptance! Suicide and harassment can be prevented! Action is necessary from all levels of the community!

Greek Life has historically demonstrated the values and tradition of leadership that have often been used to eradicate hate and bias. Brothers and Sisters have bonded together in the spirit of community service and philanthropy in hopes of changing the campus community and make it a better place for all. The energy and drive that Greeks bring to any culture change is dynamic and contagious. During this time, Greek Life is more important than ever in helping us all improve the campus climate into becoming more inclusive then ever. For each of us, Greek Life has been an important and critical support in our lives. Our Brothers and Sisters continue to lift us on their shoulders and fights for our place at the table. In the past ten-plus years, the four of us have been given so much by so many Greeks that we cannot begin to imagine our lives without our Brothers and Sisters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s program (, Teaching Tolerance, is offering a free video on bullying ( - perhaps this could start conversations where you live. The key here is to not assume that someone else is going to do something- the key here is that Greeks can and should do something. We are the best tool we have to start conversations and enact change. Greeks do this every day!

As we travel around the country speaking to college students, staff, faculty, and community members we see a lot - pain, guilt, fear, anger, apathy, energy, organizing, fundraising, and paralysis. We have also witnessed the power of Greek Life making the changes on campus by co-sponsoring LGBTIQQ events; standing beside and in front of gay Brothers and lesbian Sisters when anyone makes derogatory comments; supporting those members who have just come out; and challenging the administration to become more inclusive. We do not have any more time to waste. What will you and your organization do?

Jessica Pettitt, Sister of Delta Gamma, Social Justice Educator, LGBTIQQ Advocate, and speaker with Kirkland Productions

Shane Windmeyer, Brother of Phi Delta Theta, Executive Director of Campus Pride and speaker with CAMPUSPEAK, Inc.

Bil Leipold, Brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Associate VP at Rutgers University, LGBTIQQ Educator and speaker with The College Agency

Dr. Joe Bertolino, Brother of Delta Sigma Phi, VP of Student Affairs at Queens College, LGBTIQQ Educator and speaker with The College Agency

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Happening Now

This week's post is a guest post from Jessica Pettitt, a nationally-known speaker on a variety of topics and founder of I am... Social Justice.

I have gotten 5 phone calls this fall from campus professionals needing assistance on reacting to a trans student joining a chapter or registering to go through formal recruitment. The NCAA reports receiving over 30 requests for guidance in dealing with trans athletes. Trans students, faculty, staff, and alumni happen – and it is happening now. Trans inclusion is a new concept for most campuses and even those that have gone as far as to add gender identity and expression into their non-discrimination policies haven’t done much since then. Even the most progressive campuses still have acts of violence, bias, hate, etc. Much like racism isn’t over, homophobia, heterosexism, sexism, etc., are alive and well. The conversation that needs to take place is how do these realities impact our campus climate and the fraternal movement.

Single gendered organizations are by definition groups of members based on the conflation of sex and gender. Title IX codes were developed to provided equal access for female/women in response to male/men inequitable funding. The inconsistent applications of sex and gender have made gender designation significantly more complicated than it should be. In response to this complication, some single gendered organizations have created definitions of the sex/gender requirements or expectations based on hormone levels or chromosomal make up of an individual. A new NCAA report recommends that trans athletes are able to perform based on hormone levels while also being able to identify and express their gender separately. The fraternal movement needs to contemplate these complications and develop a similarly simple policy.

For example, a student athlete can identify as a man, use male pronouns, have XX chromosomes, and not pursue a testosterone therapy treatment and compete on a women’s team. If this student does pursue testosterone therapy, he can request an exemption from NCAA and perform on a men’s team. A transwoman (a person labeled male at birth and XY chromosomes) student athlete can compete on a men’s team or after a year of testosterone blockers and/or estrogen hormone therapy, she can compete on a women’s team. Trans folks taking hormones regularly have their estrogen/testosterone levels checked, but like non-trans, or cisgendered, folks, rarely have their chromosomes checked. Cisgendered men and women rarely have their hormone levels checked unless they are experiencing fertility or menopausal concerns. My question to the NCAA, and to all of us within the fraternal movement is - are we willing to set policies based on blood tests? If so, all members (active and alumni) would need to be tested. We could also trust and respect how an individual identifies themselves and allow for someone to develop through membership to be themselves?

These questions, lead me and an intern, Sarah Fielding, to write a Trans Resource Guide for Fraternities and Sororities: Beginning the Conversation found at . We gathered narratives from trans students that contemplated going through recruitment, joined Panhellenic, IFC, and NPHC organizations, and alumni that are still actively involved with their chapters and campuses. Please read these with the respect they deserve. Due to the climate, names, institutions, and Greek organizations have been changed to offer anonymity to the authors. The voices included in this resource guide are from lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, and queer, students of color, gender queer students, transmen, transwomen, advisors, faculty, staff, current undergraduate students, graduate students, active alumni, and de-pledged sisters and brothers from local and national fraternities and sororities on small, medium, and large research institutions within the United States. We also pulled together a lot of resources to help support the trans advocates that are doing GREAT work within chapters, organizations, and on campus.

Gamma Alpha Omega, a NALFO affiliated sorority, contacted me over a year ago when a chapter wanted to extend membership to a transwoman. The chapter turned to the national leadership for guidance. After a long process of education and conversations, GAO now includes gender identity/expression to their non-discrimination policy. Kappa Delta Chi and Omega Delta Phi have followed suit. Even with a more inclusive non-discrimination policy in place – there is still a lot of work to do for members. I don’t think answers can be developed until the conversation is started.

Now what? Thank you for your work and in advance for starting this conversation. If you are interested in joining in for a one hour free webinar on trans inclusion within the fraternal movement, feel free to visit