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.


Anonymous said...

Take a second to step into reality. Not all drug dealers are Fraternity men, and not all Fraternity men are drug dealers. On that same note, not all Charitable people are Fraternal men, and not all Fraternal men are Charitable people. These are college kids. College, a place where drugs and alcohol will forever be prevalent despite the law. Has it occurred at all to the public that maybe these students, Ivy League students, may come from situations where money is not all that prevalent. These student, so pressured to do well in such a competitive environment, may not be able to hold a regular job while enduring the hardships of Ivy level academics, and may not have the benefit of receiving Mommy and Daddy's money. Not to mention, these students had Adderall, which some students "need" in order to compete in the classroom. Who's to say that some students "need" adderall while others don't, when it clearly provides a large advantage for learning. People are so quick to place judgment on others without ever taking a step in their shoes or learning about them as an individual. I'd be glad to put money on the fact that the author of this article didn't work a day through college, and cruised by with the help of mom and dad. Also, they more than likely drank alcohol before the age of 21, and provided it to people under the age of 21 thereafter. Who are we to decide which laws are okay to violate and which are not. If I'm wrong about the author take a second to see how it feels to be criticized from an uninformed third party and maybe the next article will carry slightly less hostile tones. Live the lifestyle you choose rather than critiquing those that others choose.

Anonymous said...

An interesting (and sad) testimony to what many of us who try to uphold fraternal values, and shine the light on those who live those values, contend with on a regular basis. Tdogg, I agree with your comment that neither of these examples typifies the entire Greek community at any college campus.

The author's point, if I may be so bold to articulate it, is that stories such as the Columbia University incident will always grab the headlines before David Wallish does. It is that reality that constantly cripples our Greek communities, and reinforces the stereotypes and generalizations made about our members.

No amount of pressure to succeed, or reliance on a prescription (both of which I grant you are also real) can justify allowing an environment to persist where those prescriptions are misused, and where brothers and sisters cannot hold each other accountable to the values articulated in their shared Rituals.

Any of us who wear Greek letters certainly live our chosen lifestyle. Sadly, we also live the lives of those who share our letters (or even letters that look close to ours), and are judged by the behavior of the men and women in those letters. Committing a crime may be a lifestyle choice, but it is not one that I want any of my brothers to choose, if I have the courage and power to stop him.

Pat D said...

Very good article. I agree with that the chapter should be closed. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. If they were dealing drugs out of the chapter house, then others knew what they were doing. All Greek men should be embarrassed that no one stepped up to stop them.

Per the first comment - it is that attitude that is killing Greek Life and is a very sad commentary on students today...


Scott said...

Although I attend a small private liberal arts college that may not have the pressures of an "Ivy League" school, I do know what it means to work for what you have. I am enrolled at 18 semester hours, work a 20 hour a week internship, I am a member of my chapter's executive board as Vice President, a member of our local Greek Council's executive board, and a resident assistant. Oh, did I mention that my parents are middle class working adults with no college education and that I have to take out student loans to pay for my college?

So according to your thesis, I should be one of the prominent drug dealers on my campus due to all of the stress and pressures that accomplishing all of these endeavors requires.

Well guess what? I am a man of what I preach. I don't consume or sell drugs. I am 20 years old and have never touched a drop of alcohol in my life and never plan to buy for minors when I am of legal age to purchase. I choose to live by the values of my fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, and to defy the stereotypes of the traditional Animal House "frat".

I challenge everyone to live by their values and to be the Fraternity men and Sorority women that your founders envisioned when your organization was founded. I challenge you to be a Fraternity man or Sorority woman, and not just another Frat guy or Sorority slut. I challenge you to find a fraternity or sorority where drug dealing is a part of their ritual. I challenge you to live your ritual in your life. To make your BIG R your little r. I challenge you to make the values your ritual teaches you apparent through your daily actions, and not some deeply guarded secret. But more importantly, I challenge you to stand up to these people and tell them they are wrong no matter how hard it is because when one Greek screws up we all do.

I live my life by my values: Silence, Charity, Purity, Honor, and Patriotism. What do you live by?

Billy Joe said...

I'm very disappointed in AFLV for this post. Not all the facts of this case are known and public at this time so making a rash judgment is unacceptable.

Shouldn't this be investigated and looked into? While the members named, who are probably guilty, should be expelled isn't there still some due process? It's obvious that all the facts aren't known yet.

Jumping to conclusions didn't work very well in Salem in 1692 and it doesn’t work very well at Columbia in 2010… Let’s let the University and national fraternities do their work and support the students who weren’t involved in this situation before we come to rash judgments.