Crane: Greeks need to change to survive

by Michelle Gregg | 11/10/95 6:00am

Mitch Crane, a retired federal judge and the former district governor of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said in a speech last night that the Greek system desperately needs to change to survive.

"We can't be afraid to change," Crane said to nearly 200 students in 105 Dartmouth Hall.

"People's perception of the Greek system is based on their knowledge of what happened in the '60s, what they read in the newspaper, what they see on television and what they actually witness on campuses," Crane said.

Crane talked extensively about the risks caused by alcohol and drug abuse, hazing and rape within the Greek system.

Crane told several true stories about individuals who were killed in hazing practices, about men who died of blood-alcohol poisoning and of women who were raped after attending Greek-sponsored events.

"People read about these tragedies in the newspapers and they don't think of them as isolated incidents -- they view them as the norm," Crane said. "And because of that, when something bad happens, they want to get rid of us."

The tragedies are not intentional, Crane said. "No one starts out to kill their friends," he said. "It starts out stupid and simple. Because it's not written down, we forget what we're out to do."

Students do not know how to manage their alcohol consumption, which leads to some of the tragedies, Crane said.

"We encourage drinking, we laugh at it, and then bad things happen," Crane said.

He also questioned the practice of hazing. He said Greek house members often attribute hazing to tradition, but ultimately, the founders of the organization could not have been hazed.

Crane said the Greek system was founded on the principle of friendship -- people joined organizations because they liked the people they met.

"The crap of today had nothing to do with the Greek system's founding," he said. "Tradition is nonsense. Why do we buy into that myth?"

Crane said the Greek system must learn to lead by example. Brothers and sisters must begin to watch out for one another and not let anyone drive while intoxicated or get into a situation where rape could occur, he said.

Crane underlined the responsibility Greek houses have to their guests.

He said fraternities and sororities are responsible for any harm that comes to their guests while they are in the houses.

Students must also realize that they often can't predict when bad things will happen, Crane said.

"Don't think that tragic events can't or won't happen here -- they might," he said.

He called for students to think about what changes, if any, they think are necessary in the Greek system so the person sitting next to them would not die in a hazing incident or get raped in the future.