College Judicial Consultants

Information on college, conduct, Greek life, advocacy, and fairness-published every Tuesday and Friday morning.

Archive for the category “Drinking”

Top Five (or 6) Reasons Students Get in More Trouble At the End of the Year

In my experience, the last 6 weeks of school have the highest amount of judicial incidents. I wanted to share some of the reasons for the spike, and offer some tips on how to prevent them. (As always, if you have any problems or want some advice on how to avoid problems, we can help.)

  • Senior Week. While it may be true that the rules are “relaxed” during this week, there is always someone who will take it too far and confuse relaxed enforcement with anarchy. Every year there are seniors who wake up from a night of debauchery to find that they have a meeting with the judicial office and have placed their graduation in jeopardy. Tip: Remember not to fight, destroy things, do drugs, or commit sexual assault and you should be okay. Better yet, stop drinking before you won’t remember all the fun you had.
  • Senior Week, Greek Version—Once classes and exams are over there are occasionally seniors who decide they can party with reckless abandon. The problem is that if they violate the rules, even if they are the only people left in the house, your fraternity or sorority will still be held accountable for their actions long after they’ve graduated. Tip: Work with your chapter advisors and Greek life office to separate your chapter from any “problem seniors” before they do something wrong. Even letting those resources know you’re concerned will help mitigate the trouble later if something happens.
  • You Are “Sick of It”—Stress makes small sparks into huge flames. If you are in a forced relationship with someone (roommate, project team, etc.) that has been difficult to this point, it is not going to get easier.  Tip: Get help-your RA, hall director, TA, and professors either have some training in mediation or can point you to someone who does. Address these issues BEFORE you lose it on your roommate for putting on Skrillex at 3am AGAIN, or on that jerk in your business class who isn’t doing his part.

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  • Breakups—When you’re in a relationship with issues, nothing brings those to the forefront like the looming specter of finals and summer break. Many breakups happen during the last 6 weeks of school, and someone invariably does not handle it well. This can lead to things like late night confrontations, unwelcomed and repeated texts/phone calls, and other behavior that quickly escalate to stalking and harassment. Tip: Listen to what the other person is telling you regarding his or her boundaries and respect those even if it doesn’t seem “fair.” Connect with the counseling center or administrators you know to safely talk it out.
  • Missed Work Catches Up With You—April and May are also big “academic misconduct” months. If you are too behind in a class to catch up, remember that an earned F is better than a sanctioned zero and a year home on suspension. Tip: Talk to your professor and explain your situation. Addressing it with 5-6 weeks to go will be well received, and your professor may even have some tips to help you feel less overwhelmed.
  • Spring Weekend—In the Spring almost every school has a major event with great musical and comedic acts and day-long functions—essentially they throw a HUGE two-day bash. In addition, there are also a lot of unofficial parties happening at the same time. What you may not realize, is Spring Weekend is also a time where most student affairs staff are required to work. In other words, there are more people on the look out for problems and disruptions than at any other point during the year. So when a student lets loose and comes to campus after they’ve been drinking for 6 hours in the sun or tried mushroom tea for the first time, they get caught. Tip: If you’re going to “get wasted” have a safe place to stay away from campus and people to make sure you’re okay. While you may miss Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the quad, you won’t miss school for the year you’re suspended. Bonus Tip: Watch your guests! Remember that if your friends come visit that their actions can be held against you as if you did them yourself. Be prepared to keep anyone who visits in check.

Do you have any questions you would like answered regarding judicial issues, risk management, student advocacy, or anything else? Email me at davek@collegejudicialconsultants.com. I’ll answer every email I receive and may use some of them in a newsletter or blog.

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Case Study: The Underage Party–Hidden Considerations in the Judicial Process

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[NOTE: All names and identifying information has been changed to protect the privacy of the students involved. Any relation to a case you may know is purely coincidental.]

Steve was a senior at a competitive school living in a residence hall on campus. On Wednesday some underclassmen asked Steve if he would buy alcohol for a “suite” party they are having that weekend that would mostly be attended by other residents. Steve knew these students and has purchased alcohol for some of them before, so this request was not a big deal. Steve bought handles of different hard alcohols and a couple of cases of beer for them, but did not attend the party.

At 2:30AM one of the a freshman guests heading back to his dorm with a BAC more than three times the legal limit, was hit by a car, and was seriously injured. The situation made it to the campus newspaper, and there was a lot of upper-level administrative attention on that case—including the campus attorneys. Steve and the party hosts were eventually informed that there would be a judicial hearing for their actions with the charges being underage drinking, providing alcohol to minors, and reckless endangerment based on the party and the student’s injuries. At the hearing all the respondents argued that since Steve was not at the event he should not be responsible for how much the injured student drank, and that none of them should be responsible for the fact that the freshman was hurt on the way back to his residence since his being hit by a car was a fluke.

What Steve and the other students did not realize was that there were two simultaneous forces affecting their case. They knew about the one clearly written in the charge letter and presented in the evidence against them. They presented a decent (although not great) defense against that one, but they did not see or consider the political impact of the student’s injuries and how their case fit into the big picture. When it came to the case, the judicial board chair was aware that there were a lot of eyes on the outcome and that awareness was shared with the board prior to the hearing.

As the students presented their defenses, the board was listening for information to help address both the case itself and also the various implications of the student’s injuries. Since Steve and the other respondents did not consider that aspect they did not address it and the board was left with only their pre-case impressions and a belief that the respondents did not “get the seriousness” of what happened. Steve was found responsible for providing alcohol and reckless endangerment, and was suspended for the last semester of his college career and had to come back the following year in order to take the mandatory class he needed for his major.

It is important to realize that the board did NOT intentionally punish Steve more severely because of the political undercurrents. By the time the case got to the board, the impact of the politics and attention were already in place, and those factors directly affected the outcome:

  1. While this board almost never heard alcohol cases the fact that they were implied a seriousness they could not ignore.
  2. While the student injury was clearly why the case was treated so seriously, the board and the respondents were not looking at the same issue. The respondents focused on the “fluke” nature of that injury, but the board believed the idea that an extremely drunk freshman getting hurt was actually very foreseeable. All the respondents seemed to be doing was missing the point and not taking responsibility.
  3. The decision to hold Steve accountable even though he was not there was not what was normally done, but the decision to do so in this case was made prior to the hearing. When the board got the case the students assumed that Steve would be fine based on their experience, but the board decided the person most responsible was the older student that supplied the alcohol because he had the ultimate responsibility for how that alcohol was used.

Cases do not happen in a vacuum, and the political climate at the school, the “headline” news, previous cases, and recent history can all play a factor. The good news is that these are not factors in 95% of cases. The bad news is that when those external considerations are factors, it is highly unlikely that a student, fraternity, or sorority will be able to identify and address them properly. If you are in trouble, and you think the people working with your case are treating it like a bigger deal than you think it should be, there are probably more things going on that you know. Contact us for a free consultation to see what you may be missing and how we can help.

Have you had a disciplinary case against you, your fraternity, or your sorority go worse than you expected? Contact me at DaveK@Collegejudicialconsultants.com and share your story for a future piece or share your story in the comments.  Be safe, be good, and be ready.

Know the People That Affect You In College (i.e. the Accidental Good Idea)

When I was in college, I was the classic example of a smart kid who made bad decisions. If there were 2 ways to do something and one way could get me in trouble that was the way I invariably chose…and chose it often. It was so bad that it became pointless for me to try and avoid mistakes, and success became learning a lesson early enough to not make the same mistake more than twice. Some of these mistakes were small and some involved police being called, but any one of them could have been the thing that got me sent home.

There was exactly one reason I was able to be that donkey and still graduate (and it wasn’t because I had good grades or my almost unbelievable charm.) The simple truth is that I got to know everyone in a position of authority that I could. I knew not just the RAs on my floor, but I knew the ones from my building and when someone came around I didn’t know I introduced myself. I knew the hall director, the student government advisor, the judicial officer, and every one of my professors. I met some of them when things went wrong, but for the most part I knew them simply because they directly or indirectly had authority over my life. This was not an intentional strategy, but it turned out to be a good one.

When I started working in higher education I was reminded of my relationship building because a small percentage of students took the time to do the same with me.  There are several reasons this is a good idea:

  1. Almost without exception the people working in student affairs and with students are good people with interesting stories. If you know that first hand it will improve your interactions down the road.
  2. People are more inclined to help when they know you. This is simple human nature. If you are “Jennifer” and you get caught smoking marijuana in the dorm, the first instinct will be to do more for you than if you’re “that girl in 205.”
  3. You get the chance to let someone know who you are so they don’t just judge you when they “have to.” This is similar to #2, but more positive. When I was in charge of judicial issues, if someone came up to me to change the way something was enforced I was a lot more open to it than if they tried to make the same argument because they were “caught.” The truth is that when a person in authority knows you he or she is much more inclined to trust the motives you present rather than make assumptions you may not like.
  4. There are numerous opportunities that get presented to these people, and the better they know you the more likely it is that you will be informed of them. This can be as simple as being on a committee or information about a paid internship.

If you are going to get to know someone, remember that they are busy as well. If the person is an administrator make (and keep!!!) an appointment. Go to programs, say hi, help out, and do other things that show you’re a good person before you need them to believe it. Besides being a good way to check out some other life options, it can also be fun.

Obligatory plug: Subscribe to this blog, check out our website, follow me on Twitter, or like us on Facebook (if people still do that.) Also check out our friends at The Greak Tweak if you’re in a fraternity, sorority, or just want some good advice.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Positive Implications of Greek Membership

The AFA (Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors) conference is happening right now (11/28/12) in Indianapolis.  There are great programs on expansion, creating change, advising local organizations, restorative justice, masculinity and feminism, social justice and other great topics.  What there aren’t are any programs like the one I’m going to propose for next year.  “Apologize for nothing: addressing the negative impressions of Greek life without accepting them.”

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An article in the Michigan Review details the results of the research done by James Turner at UVA who, after examining the mortality rates of 1150 schools found that for every 100,000 students there were just over 6 suicides and just under 5 alcohol deaths. (Note:  They say “alcohol-related traffic deaths” in the article so my rephrasing may be misleading.  If, as is likely, they specifically mean these types of deaths then when you add alcohol poisoning and the other alcohol deaths then I would imagine they eclipse the suicide rate.  Since the gist of the article is that suicide is the #1 cause of death for college students, that wouldn’t make sense. I’ve therefore made the assumption that they mean “alcohol” deaths.) This got me to thinking about the things I used to discuss with my colleagues on the student crisis teams, and the impact being Greek has on the at-risk students.  Since I’m not in grad school, I’m not going to do actual research studies (although if you do want a great thesis topic, feel free) but I thought I would post my thoughts and invite anyone who knows more to comment.

  1. Alcohol/dependency issues. I think there’s no doubt that Greeks have more students that are assessed in the “dependent” range for alcohol than their non-Greek counterparts.  I do not know if the same is true for drugs, but I assume that it would actually be drug dependent.  For example, I would not be surprised to hear that Greeks smoke more weed, but I would be surprised if they did more psychedelics or abused more pain medication. That being said, they drugs they do use may make them higher users of “drugs” in general. WINNER: Non-Greeks. That being said, I would be REALLY interested in comparing the alcohol consumption and drug use on campuses without Greek life (e.g. Bowdoin, Brandeis, Middlebury) with schools that have Greek life.  I suspect that the actual consumption rates would be similar and in which case I’d have to say “Tie,” but I can’t prove that.
  2. Depression/Suicide.  I think that Greeks are clearly the winners here. No matter how you feel about the types of connections people make in their fraternity/sorority, the fact remains that once you join these organizations you are rarely alone.  You are usually sharing meals and running in the same social circles as a large group of people you like, so I would expect that there is a lot more “dude, what the f*#k is wrong with you” type of intervention than there would be in traditional male relationships. I can actually think of dozens of examples of fraternity men and sorority women supporting their brothers and sisters through disease, parental death, and other situations, and have heard from students directly that they wouldn’t have “made it through” without their brothers or sisters. WINNER: Greeks!
  3. Violence (non-dating):  When you hear of a student writing manifestos, buying guns, or doing other crazy stuff that necessitates a threat assessment, it is almost never a member of a fraternity or sorority.  In fact, find me one example without the word “loner” attached to the description of the student and I’ll be stunned.  WINNER: Greeks!
  4. Inter-Personal Violence (e.g. sexual assault, dating violence, stalking.)  I think the literature makes it pretty clear that Greeks have a higher incident rate for sexual assault (both as perpetrator and victim) but I would bet that stalking is lower mostly because of the ease of intervention both for the perpetrator (“dude!  Let it go.”) and the victim (“That guy’s a freak.  I’m taking you to the police.”) (That bet is based in nothing, so please feel free to correct me with actual data.)  At schools with Greek life I’d have to probably say WINNER: Non-Greeks, but again the difference is narrow (and when you compare numbers of actual students I’ll bet there are more INCIDENTS among non-Greeks) and where there is no Greek life I would be interested to know once again about the actual incident rates to see if there are fewer per capita.
  5. Missing Students. Students occasionally get fed up and “disappear” for a while, usually by staying with a friend or taking a small road trip of some kind. Usually a parent will then call campus police after not hearing from their kid and file a campus missing persons report which triggers a pretty specific (and potentially lengthy) administrative process.  As with the depression/suicide category I would bet that there are many more of these among non-Greeks for the same reasons.  WINNER: Greeks!
  6. Campus Retention and Graduation. This isn’t a crisis matter, but another big issue on campuses is retention.  One of the biggest selling points I see on Greek Life websites is that membership in Greek organizations make a student more likely to complete their college degree. (see, for example http://arizonagreek.orgsync.com/benefits) WINNER: Greek life!

So what’s the point?  College administrators are quick to point out the areas of Greek life where the members are higher risk than non-Greeks, but I can’t think of a single upper administrator who has stood up and said “While drinking may be a bigger problem in the Greek community, membership in a fraternity or sorority decreases the likelihood that a student will drop out, be overwhelmed with depression, or commit suicide.” I’m not saying that you have to be Greek to have a happy and healthy college experience, but I encourage all or you to challenge your administrators, newspaper editorials, or anywhere else that tries to polarize people into “Pro” or “Anti” Greek camps.  Constantly remind everyone that the things that people use to vilify Greeks are also true for non-Greeks while the positive aspects of being Greek are not easily replicated in traditional residential situations.  Schools push co-curricular involvement to get a student vested in the college and the college experience, but completely disregard these benefits so they can talk about “hazing” and “binge drinking”–like that occasional aspect of Greek life is the ONLY purpose of Greek life. It isn’t, and I encourage you to refuse to accept that it is.

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1.  Go to our website to know more about what we do and what we can offer.  We are working on a separate site/section for student organizations, but the services are similar.

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5.  I think the photo is Kent State Greeks.  Completely snagged off the internet without permission. 🙂

Fraternity and Sorority Misconduct, Chico State, and the Nuclear Option

When I speak with a member of a fraternity or sorority in trouble, I know how serious the next few weeks will be depending on whether or not their hazing accusations included forced drinking or physical abuse.  If the accusations against them are in these areas, it is likely that the school is going to pull out all the stops to punish them, and that their national is going to be involved as part of that punishment. While we have successfully helped fraternities accused of drinking hazing and those accused of “abusing” pledges, the absolute worst thing a fraternity or sorority can do if they want to protect their organization is mix alcohol or violence into their pledge program.  If they use alcohol or violence as part of their pledge program, not only do they risk getting expelled, but none of the usual people will get an organization’s back or help them at all-not their alumni, not their national, not their Greek life administrator, and most certainly not their school.  I know there are fraternities that will keep doing it, and I know that there are differences in degrees of each of these categories, but ANY time an organization involves alcohol or violence into its pledge education process it risks everything. In fact, when you say “hazing” to most people (especially non-Greeks) they will almost certainly mention “forced drinking” and/or “beating” as the very definition of hazing. (Which is why I go bananas when papers print that an organization is “under investigation” for “hazing” without defining what they mean.)

It used to be that if a fraternity or sorority got caught doing something wrong, that organization would be punished.  Their school and/or their national organization would hold them accountable, and they might have members cut from the organization, be suspended on campus, be expelled, or have their charter revoked.  While (and I speak from experience as a Delt at Tulane) that sucks when it is happening to you, it is understood to be the price of doing business.  If you haze knowing the risks and you get caught, you can lose your fraternity or sorority. Those chapters that considered themselves “hazers” knew that, but that isn’t the case anymore.

Across the country we are seeing examples of organizations and entire Greek systems paying for the actions of other individual Greek organizations.  At SUNY Binghamton they suspended pledging this fall before the year began, and at Alabama just after.  At Cornell the University President has adopted essentially a “zero tolerance” stance for any sort of pledging because he sees pledging itself as not just having a hazing component, but a “high risk” component like the one that he believes lead to the tragic death last year.  Trinity College in Connecticut is mandating that all fraternities and sororities go co-ed.  Hundreds of other schools have already banned Greek life.  And, most recently, the President of Chico State banned fraternities and sororities  after the death of a 21-year old “pledge” who died on his birthday because it MIGHT have been hazing. (Message being: if you’re Greek and something tragic happens, it was hazing.)

Fraternities and sororities may have a greater prevalence of certain behaviors than other groups (that’s a different argument,) but once again we see these organizations being scapegoated for larger problems on campus. According to the same op-ed piece written by Cornell’s President there are 2000 alcohol-related deaths on college campuses each year.  (For the sake of discussion I’ll assume that every one of them results from excessive consumption and alcohol poisoning, and not things like drunk driving deaths, exacerbation of medical conditions, or the other things I know actually contribute to that number.)  He used these numbers intentionally, because when he mentioned “hazing” and used “alcohol related deaths” in the same piece the intended implication was that fraternities and sororities “cause” these deaths, and that they are caused because of hazing.  That’s simply not true.  (There’s a good list of hazing deaths throughout time by someone with an axe to grind here.) The fact is that on any given year there are almost no hazing deaths that happen in fraternities and sororities, statistically speaking. I am in no way saying that ANY hazing deaths are acceptable, but if you eliminated Greek life completely ALMOST EVERY ONE OF THOSE 2000 DEATHS WOULD STILL OCCUR.

Campus administration and “anti-hazing” groups also act like the men and women in the Greek Organization can’t decide for themselves what is acceptable behavior. People like to say that 9 in 10 people who are hazed do not consider themselves hazed, with the implication being that they are so brainwashed or beaten that they don’t even realize the reality of their situation.  More likely (from my experience being Greek and from actually talking to Greek men and women) the activities that are considered hazing are either not hazing to the people going through them, or are seen as the same as what is being done in regular social situations.  The very definition of hazing creates a “when did you stop beating your wife” type of logical trap. A common definition of hazing is that hazing is any action “that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule that risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of an (SIC) group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”  (from http://www.hazingprevention.org/hazing-information/hazing-definitions.html)  So whether or not you’re willing to put up with is, being teased or embarrassed by other people in your drop that “risks” emotional harm (e.g. hurts your feelings) is hazing just because you’re in that particular group.

That’s crap.

I challenge anyone to find 5 people in different social circles that have not sat around with their friends and been teased about something to the point where they got uncomfortable or their feelings got hurt.  Take a group of friends that drink and find one of them that hasn’t played a drinking game or had more alcohol than they planned on having at some point. Find anyone who has been involved with a prank on someone  and the target of the prank was not embarrassed intentionally by the prank. Austin Kutcher made a name for himself with a TV show based on this very thing.  I was a comic for a few years here in Boston, and we are merciless when we tease one another because we expect other comics to be able to handle it. Most of us would not talk that way to strangers or share those conversations with our parents. The fact is that what is acceptable when you’re with your friends does not become hazing just because you and those friends are on the same athletic team, chess club, or fraternity.  You do not lose the ability to decide if the actions done to you are “okay” simply because you become part of something larger than yourself.  As long as “hazing” is used to cover everything from nicknames and scavenger hunts to forced sodomy and beatings we will not have a reasonable discussion on hazing AND student members will not take these dialogues seriously. 

If we want to change student behavior to the point where we lesson or eliminate the groups willing to hurt or SERIOUSLY risk the lives of their new members, then we have to draw some hard lines when it comes to defining risky behavior.  We must acknowledge that there is a difference between beating someone into unconsciousness and having the newest people in an organization do the worst jobs in that organization. (One man’s terrible bartending shift is another’s having to clean up at 8am after a party.) We have to admit that there is a difference between “kidnapping” a pledge class and taking them to a party on a different campus on a Friday night, and locking them in a dungeon and lowering lotion to them in a basket.

It is impossible to get member buy-in to an “anti-hazing” program when we treat pledge pins the same way (or at least with the same language and seriousness) with which we treat forced branding.  Let’s have some real honesty and let organizations define the non-lethal/harmful actions that they do during the initiation period while prohibiting the ones we KNOW are recklessly indifferent to health and safety.  Have an organization’s standards be clear during recruitment so that when someone joins he or she know what he or she is getting into. Ban forced consumption of alcohol and physical assault, but if someone knowingly and willingly joins an organization where they are going to get an embarrassing nickname and be yelled at if they don’t know the founding mothers, then let them.  If we draw actual lines of intolerable behavior, but make those lines reasonable and logical then you will find many more students willing to take up the anti-hazing banner. 

Instead you have anonymous hazing hotlines where organizations are held to the standards of acceptability as defined by the most sensitive of us, or by that person’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or parent (or even occasionally by a rival organization.)  This makes organizations that want to improve their programs unable or unwilling to be honest about what they do and find acceptable, in order to eliminate those aspects that they don’t.  If you are a student and don’t believe me try saying “we want to get rid of forced consumption and calisthenics, but we want to make sure we’re yelling enough to have them take our history and values seriously” to your Greek Life office or if you’re an administrator ask yourself what you’d do if a group admitted that the pledges had to clean the house every Saturday, but that they wanted to make the pledges understand that they never have to drink.  Are there other ways? Sure.  It is just insane to me that the same people (administrators) who will admit that abstinence is not a useful means of controlling sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy will preach a “hazing” abstinence to fraternities and sororities.  What’s worse is that this ineffective approach is just increasing the walls of silence between them and the administration.  If you have any doubt that many Greeks feel like they are at war, just ask the students at Alabama, Union, Binghamton, and, most recently, Chico State.

Singling out fraternities and, worse, punishing all of them for what happens at one when those actions happen as or more frequently outside of the chapter house walls does not address the larger issues.  It does not end “21 at 21” (drinking 21 drinks on your 21st birthday), does not eliminate beer pong or other drinking games, or pre-gaming.  It is an easy way to look like you’re “fixing” a very serious problem (alcohol-related deaths) by nuking those organizations that are, at worst, just one reason for that problem.  We would not eliminate all student clubs because the chess team hazes, we don’t end athletics because the swim team hazes, and we don’t shut down a residence hall when a suite throws an illegal party. However, once again Greeks treated like they are all the same people so when a message needs to be sent to an entire campus they are thrust upon the sword. This is not only unfair, it hurts every student on that campus. I applaud those alumni and actives who are standing up against this discriminatory act, and hope a real dialogue can begin soon on the affected campuses.

Bring us to your campus!

We have launched a new campaign on RocketHub to raise money to do a nationwide college tour beginning in February.  Go to our page on RocketHub for more info.  If we get enough money I will spend up to 6 weeks on the road going to as many colleges as possible to do workshops and/or presentations on risk management, student advocacy, fairness, or other related topics that meet the needs of each audience.  

Many chapters, IFCs, Panhellenic Councils, and other student groups have asked that we do something.  This is your chance to bring us to your campus for a fraction of what it would cost otherwise. Depending on your donation, we will publicize you, your organization, or whatever you’d like on our site or even our touring vehicle.  Help change the way college students and student organizations understand their power and advocate for themselves!

(Un?)Intentional Bias Against Greek Organizations–Iowa Edition

There was an article in the Des Moines Register that discusses the higher rates of arrest among Greek students than their non-Greek counterparts that was essentially a reprint of an article published in the Iowa Press Citizen.  There are so many things wrong with the articles that I’m just going to choose a few. As a preface I want to remind you that I am not now, nor have I ever, said that Greek organizations are innocent of all wrongdoing and are framed.  I understand that Greeks, on average, tend to have higher rates of binge drinking and other behaviors.  As I said in an earlier post about the systemic bias against Greeks, the problem is that the police, administrators, and people who assess these behaviors go into their interactions with Greeks expecting a particular result.  That being said, here are some problems with these articles:

1.  The assumption that arrest percentages correlate to a proportional increase in illegal behavior.  Let’s look at the Greek men versus non-Greek men.  According to the article in 2010-2011 fraternity men had an arrest rate of 15.1% and non-Greek men had an arrest rate of 8.5%.  (I’m going to make an assumption that most of these “arrests” are alcohol-related for things like underage possession, public intoxication, open containers, and the like.  I can’t believe that Iowa students are committing more serious crimes at the rate of 1 in 10 male student, and these types of arrests are the ones I’m most familiar with on a campus.) On the surface this seems like a lot, but how are these arrests (most likely citations, by the way) made?  When the police appear at a fraternity party do they ID everyone and cite anyone who is over the limit, underage, etc? Or are these singular arrests of students they stumble upon?  I will bet $100 that these arrests/citations are done in masse which means that every time they show up at something they’re making dozens of arrests/citations? This matters because I can guarantee you that the police are not walking the floors of residence halls on Thursday-Saturday nights.  I may be wrong, but I’ll bet the 8.5% of non-Greek arrests are done in small numbers (1-3 students at a time) and the 15.1% are done in larger numbers.  This would mean that the incidents are not dissimilar.  I could be completely wrong, but there is NOTHING in the data that lets me know either way.

2.  The use of the word “frat” makes it clear that the author is not Greek.  This doesn’t really matter, but it does make it more likely than not that comments that seem anti-Greek are at least carelessly so.

3.  Arrests happen where the police are.  This is a version of the argument explaining the arrest rates in urban/minority areas so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it essentially says that there is an underlying bias against minorities and the urban poor that makes police in those areas more likely to arrest the people living there.  I think the same is true for Greeks, especially those with fraternity houses outside the school grounds. If you are part of a city or town where the college is a large part of the population, there is often an “us and them” feeling that develops among the non-college population.  For those people nothing expresses the privilege and difference of college students like fraternity houses with neighbors frequently calling the police on anything that is outside the “norms” of the neighborhood.  If you have 30-60 students living in a house, almost everything they do will be outside those norms.  I would ask how many calls to fraternity and sorority houses the police receive, what their patrol patterns are, what their protocols are when the find something in a fraternity/sorority house (as opposed to when something happens in a residence hall) and other questions to give the arrests some context.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll bet you find at least a corresponding 2:1 rate of normal patrols and dispatched calls.

4.  Shame on the University of Iowa (and other schools) for not protecting their students better.  Again, without knowing the actual reasons for the arrests/citations this is conjecture, but it makes me furious when a school allows arrests/citations to be given for drunk in public and underage drinking without fighting the town on those arrests.  An 8.5% arrest rate is ABSURD.  I am all for arresting all students (or anyone) who drives drunk, vandalizes, or commits other crimes where there is either a victim or it is so reckless that a third party-injury is likely.  I also refuse to believe that most of the arrests fall into that category.  So what you have is a police force targeting students for the sole purpose of raising revenue, and the schools allow it.  In fact, “town/gown” relations (the relationship between the school and the local community) almost always has the school apologizing rather than standing up for the students.  I’ve seen it at other schools, but what this type of police profiling does is increase drunk driving (because it’s easier to get away with than walking home), decrease the number of students returning to the safety of their homes (because if you stay indoors, you are less likely to get caught), and other actions that actually decrease student safety.  The solution is not to demand fewer arrests by the students, but to demand that the police treat students the way they treat the rest of the population.  Have the police stop people leaving restaurants and bars, or leaving dinner parties, and watch how quickly the public outrage changes their behavior.

So what can you, as a student government/organization, do?  There are several things:

1.  Organize a week-long boycott of local business.  Remind the city of the benefit students bring to the community and make it clear that the boycott is due to police profiling.  You need to engage the community and get them in the fight because your school won’t do it alone.

2.  Each student should challenge any judicial action resulting from the arrest/citation.  I do not know what action Iowa takes, but I’m willing to bet that there is a protocol that comes into play every time they get a report.  The school is not equipped to handle 8.5-15% of the population demanding a hearing.  Tax the system and maybe you can highlight the injustice to members of the administration who can do something.

3.  Represent yourselves in court and fight EVERY citation.  This is similar to 2, but the impact will be to the courts and the police force.  Most police either can’t attend court or get overtime for doing so.  Make them come.

We would love to help the students in the Iowa Greek community or The University of Iowa Student government develop a system to fight this on behalf of the students.  We can come train a group of you to be advocates, we can represent every student cited for a very reduced rate, or work together to find ways to bring this to a stop.  Get in touch, whether you are at Iowa, Arkansas, or any other school, and let’s see what we can do. Nobody will fight harder for you than you fight for yourselves.  Let me show you how.

If you are a student and want to help us out in less than 3 minutes, please take our survey!  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MGDYXK5 

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