Risky behavior affects frat image

by Lauren Kingsley | 11/14/00 6:00am

Judge Mitch Crane entertained a nearly full house at Rollins Chapel yesterday evening as part of the College's Greek Speaker Series, addressing potentially risky behaviors such as hazing, negligence, alcohol abuse and other issues that threaten the image and survival of fraternities and sororities.

Crane, an attorney and judge from West Chester, Pa., is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Drawing on his experiences both as a fraternity brother and as a judge, he spoke to members of the College's Greek community on the issue of "Risk Management in the Real World."

Since he became a Greek 44 years ago, Crane said, he has "watched people's attitudes towards fraternities and sororities change dramatically over the years."

Much of this is due to the negative portrayal of the Greek system by the media, he said. "Political candidates don't advertise Greek ties. Why?"

Crane cited the example of presidential candidate Governor George W. Bush, who made no mention of serving as president of his fraternity at Yale University, despite the leadership qualities involved in the position.

"Stories of hazing and initiation that appear in the papers reinforce the perception people have of us," Crane said, emphasizing his role as a member of the Greek community. He cited many examples of incidents of alcohol abuse, rape, hazing related injuries and death that has occurred within the Greek system in recent years.

However, he said, the media does not recognize that the Greek system has many "leaders and people with principles, and it provides a social environment for people to come and enjoy."

"There is a crisis in the system," he said, which cannot be solved by trying to change people's perception of the system. It can only be solved by changing the reality of things within the system.

"We must do everything necessary to make sure the system survives," he said. This may include reexamining initiation traditions that could result in injury, death or lawsuits, as well as reevaluating new member programs that are potentially dangerous or humiliating.

The Greek Speaker Series is a part of the All-Greek New Member Orientation Program and is part of the general member ongoing education process.