Monday, August 22, 2011

USC fraternities protest crackdown (or, "We Shall Brovercome")

After "widespread" underage drinking and other alcohol-related issues plagued the University of South Carolina's fraternity rush week early this semester, USC officials shut down the bid process in order to maintain some appearance of authority over the Greek community. Fraternity oversight has always been a joke at USC (hell, last time it took overt displays of racism to warrant any kind of action), but the university's crackdown is the biggest effort to control the den of debauchery known as the Greek Village since I've been in Columbia.

“This is a cultural issue that has infected our community,” said Director of Student Services Anna Edwards, apparently referring to alcohol (though her statement could arguably also apply to the fraternities themselves).

Unsurprisingly, the bros flipped out. Fraternity leaders responded by calling USC's Office of Greek Life "inefficient, ineffective and in violation of university law," and demanded an audit of the office. It's enough to make Fox News proud, and the self-aggrandizing language asking university officials to "tone down their use of aggressive tactics and join us in a period of reflection" only added to this comedy of conceit.

At a forum between university officials and Greek students Monday evening, fraternity leaders continued to protest their perceived persecution. "Honestly, I’m tired of Greek Life having a bad reputation," said Alpha Epsilon Pi President Adam Kess. Now what could've given him that idea?

Perhaps it had something to do with university officials' recitation of a three-page timeline of rush violations (which frankly sounded like a good opportunity for an impromptu drinking game), complete with strippers and multiple arrests. Officials said that out of 115 alcohol hospitalizations last year, 45% involved Greek students. However, only 20-25% of USC students are in a fraternity or sorority, according to the Daily Gamecock.

Meanwhile, students outraged by the university's "bropocalypse" live-tweeted the forum with woe-is-us language that was just as overblown as the fraternity leaders' statement. "[Vice President of Student Affairs Jerry] Brewer said he wanted Greeks to "get real" -- he's about to get his wish," threatened student Meredith Hucks, evoking Animal House-like images of civil disobedience such as lunch counter sit-ins at Groucho's, solidarity rallies at Pavlov's and guitarists on the Horseshoe switching from OAR to protest songs.

Still, it looks like USC freshmen won't be denied an opportunity to buy their friends after all. Assistant Director of Greek Life Keith Ellis said he believes the fraternities' bid process will resume this week, but stressed on Monday that the Greek Village will see increased oversight moving forward. "The issues of hazing that have occurred on this campus before will not be tolerated," Ellis told students.

Yeah, we'll just see how many Sig Eps "accidentally" burn their hands on the stove this fall.


  1. What do the following have in common? Dizziness, profuse sweating, nausea, writing this article- all signs of a sodium overdose.