Once again, Greek Life at West Virginia University has found itself in hot water after a slew of incidents led to disciplinary actions against multiple chapters last week. Facing hefty penalties such as suspension from their national organizations and social suspension that will keep some from hosting any of their usual end-of-the-year functions, many are criticizing the University as a whole for unnecessarily and unfairly "gutting" Greek life at WVU. Whether it will carry on a while longer or end by sweeping action taken by the University, it is true that Greek life at WVU as we’ve known it is dead.
On April 5, WVU’s Delta Tau Delta chapter was suspended after a video created by one of its members surfaced online. The student behind the video, Stephen Budkey, reportedly filmed it and put it on YouTube as an audition tape for MTV’s "The Real World." According to an article from the Charleston Gazette-Mail last week that detailed the event, "…the video showed the student touring the fraternity house while making inappropriate comments about women, describing social functions that violate the council’s conduct code and referencing activities that violated Delta Tau Delta’s values."
Later that same day, a former president of WVU’s Panhellenic council was arrested and charged in connection with a burglary that took place at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house. Brigette Lajoie reportedly covered her face and entered the house through a window with "an unidentified man" and stole property from the house. She was later arrested and charged after her car became stuck as she was driving away, reportedly under the influence.
On April 6, WVU’s Sigma Chi chapter was indefinitely suspended after an event that took place over the weekend reportedly violated campus-wide Greek policies. Similarly, WVU’s Sigma Nu chapter was placed on social suspension for the remainder of the semester after they allegedly planned an event that violated fraternity policies.
While these incidents are admittedly unrelated to one another, they are reflective of the current nature of Greek life at WVU. After a chapter event involving alcohol led to the tragic death of freshman Kappa Sigma pledge Nolan Burch last year, Greek life was placed under a microscope by University officials. While many are attempting to carry on their party legacies under the radar, they are doing so in violation to many of the measures put in place for their own safety and protection.
Other articles and commentary on the topic have already gone viral on Facebook and websites like Total Frat Move, with many saying that University sanctions and regulation of Greek life is extremely harsh. Some point to the fact that the "Real World" audition video was intended to be a joke or that the focus on the negative stories has overshadowed the positive ones, such as Greek participation in a day of service where hundreds of members participated in community service projects around Morgantown. Others argue that they have found their best friends in Greek life, and to see it die out is a detriment to the campus community.
As a senior, I’ve seen a complete change in Greek life from the day I first stepped on to this campus to now as I prepare to leave it. Unfortunately for some, the actions leading to these changes are absolutely not "harsh" or "over the top." I don’t doubt membership in these chapters fosters friendships or promotes community service and leadership experience; however, if allowing fraternities and sororities to run rampant has led to the death of one student, that is one student too many. Whether the best parts of Greek culture will die alongside the worst remains to be seen.