Monday, December 13, 2010

Best of Busted!

Student hospitalized after hazing

A fraternity’s Wayne State University chapter [is under suspension] and could have its charter revoked following allegations that a 22-year-old pre-medical student was hazed so cruelly he wound up in a hospital for nearly two weeks.

[The student] claims he was required to go to a house in west Detroit for 32 consecutive days, where he says he was administered beatings that sometimes lasted several hours as part of his initiation to become a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

“They would hit me all over,” said [the student]. “They would have me recite information I’d learned about history or whatever, and see how I responded under pressure by hitting me with thick paddles and slamming my body with their hands.”

[The student’s] attorney said he plans to sue the fraternity for the medical bills incurred because of the beatings. The most severe thrashing, [he] said, occurred in the house on March 1, when allegedly dozens of fraternity members from across Michigan assaulted him. Walker said he also was forced to eat dog food.

Later that night, after he’d gone home, [the student] said he was horrified to see that his urine was red. A friend drove him to Annapolis Hospital in Wayne. [He] later was transferred to University Hospital in Ann Arbor, where he was treated for kidney failure, among other injuries. He remained in the hospital for 12 days.

In an interfraternal world where so many students are debating if those matching scrunchies they made their pledges wear are considered hazing, it seems like stories like these should be legends of a bygone era. Not so much.

For the love of Zeus, people. It’s 2010 and we’re still beating people? We’re still using paddles? It’s as if these men lived in the far reaches of Antarctica, not the metropolis of Detroit where surely cable television is available. Because there would have to be some serious ignorance for these men to not know that this is a bad idea. And let’s take a break from all the fraternal values talk for a moment and simply point out that BEATING someone – for any reason – is a bad idea. It’s other things, too. Criminal. Mean. Dangerous. Did we mention criminal?

So what we have here is an incredibly courageous college student who, after being beaten to the point of serious injury, stood up to a group of older men who were abusing their power all in the name of fraternity. We assure you, there is no rationale or reason that wouldn’t make us at Busted! gag. We don’t want to hear about earning letters, or understanding suffering, or any of that business. At the end of the day, these men – whoever they were – committed assault, in our opinion. And we have no time or patience or space for them in our fraternal community.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Have you heard the names Chris Coles, Harrison David, Adam Klein, Jose Perez, or Michael Wymbs lately? How about David Wallisch? Each of these men are in the news today, painting two very different pictures of fraternity, and what it means to be a fraternity man.

The first five men are sitting in prison in New York City this morning, accused of selling drugs to their peers. NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelley called it, "the biggest drug bust at a college in recent memory." Where were they selling those drugs you ask? Out of the living rooms and bedrooms of their fraternity houses and residence halls of course. The majority of the drug sales of what has been dubbed "Operation Ivy League" took place at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Psi Upsilon. A few of these men even wore their fraternity letters as they got hauled off to jail! Stellar!

David Wallisch is in the news for a different reason. The newly 21 year old junior and member of Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity used his 21st birthday this past weekend to raise money for St. James Place, a community kitchen in Kansas City. Wallisch has been volunteering at St. James place weekly for two years, and felt his birthday was a great opportunity for his friends and family to raise money for a worthwhile cause, rather than buy him a drink. Wallish also baked 200 cupcakes with the help of his fraternity brothers to deliver to St. James this evening when he makes his weekly visit. (For more information on Wallish, or to donate to his cause, click here.)

Two very different stories, and two very different images of fraternity. Sadly, Operation Ivy League is all over the national news today. Wallisch's story made the Kansas City Star, but that is about as far as it will go. This is not the media's fault, this is our fault. We let this happen in our communities and right under our noses in our houses. And we wonder why people have a negative image of fraternity.

If it were up to me, the Columbia University chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Psi Upsilon would be shut down today. Immediately. We don't need to "investigate" this one. I don't care what the other undergraduates have to say, I don't care who the alumni are, and I don't care how expensive the rent is on the houses in NYC. Shut them down. Now. This isn't about one random drug dealer in a house, it's about an environment that allowed him to exist there and financially supported him to make it worth his while. There is no room in the fraternal movement for these men. If you feel the same way, I hope you will share your opinion.

When we take an oath, we agree to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and to hold not only our brothers or sisters to that same standard, but the entire interfraternal community. That means holding your chapter accountable. It means holding other chapters on your campus accountable. It means being accountable as alumni, and as advisors. It is time we all took that more seriously. If you're not interested, then please get out of the way. I'd love to hear your thoughts.