STORY BY MADDY GILDERSLEEVE
A study by the University of Maine found 55 percent of college students involved in clubs and organizations have experienced hazing and according to stophazing.org, 73 percent of students in sororities or fraternities experience at least one form of hazing behavior.
But at Drake University the statistics do not apply.
“There is a zero tolerance policy for all of Drake’s Greek life on hazing, sexual assault violence and alcohol incidents at any chapter function or involving underage students,” said junior Interfraternity Council Executive Vice President and music education major Xavier Quinn.
Many Greek life communities across the country deal with issues involving hazing, sexual harassment and alcohol abuse. In an effort to eradicate these harmful behaviors, Drake is setting a new norm in their Greek community.
According to the Drake Greek life website, there are nine fraternities, along with newly reestablished Phi Delta Theta, and five sororities on campus. Greek life’s zero tolerance policy applies to the entire community, which is around 30 percent of Drake’s undergraduate student population.
“In the media you see a lot of things about sorority and fraternity life having bad situations with hazing, drinking getting out of hand or not being dedicated to school work,” said Claire Van Treeck, sophomore accounting and finance double major and executive vice president on Panhellenic Council.
These stereotypes are well known to incoming first-years on Drake’s campus.
“I feel like fraternities [on campus] all haze but I haven’t heard anything,” said first-year accounting major Solea Rodriguez. Rodriguez is not involved in Greek life.
Rodriguez also observed that there seem to be stereotypes for each chapter on campus.
“I feel like certain girls go to a certain house,” Rodriguez said. “I mean, yeah, cause that’s the one they get along with, but it’s a certain type of person.”
Students who ended up joining Greek life had beliefs similar to Rodriguez. “I came in expecting dudes that drink, which is not something I wanted to be a part of,” said Joe Herba, first-year biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major and current member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Herba was expecting the typical media portrayal of Greek life but was surprised by what he discovered. “I found out the people in Greek life are actually the leaders on campus,” he said.
Herba, like most students, was still worried about the unspoken stereotype of Greek street: hazing. “I was expecting to be hazed,” Herba said. “But we talk about a no hazing policy and Sigma Phi Epsilon takes it very seriously.”
On the sorority side of it, the zero tolerance policy is equally enforced. “I have never been hazed and I have never seen anyone else be hazed,” Van Treeck said.
Both Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council make an effort to enforce their zero tolerance policy and improve the reputation of Greek life across campus.
As Executive Vice President of Panhellenic Council, Van Treeck is in charge of risk management and certain education policies. “In the most extreme case, if a chapter violated this rule [zero tolerance for hazing] the chapter could be kicked off campus or the member could be kicked out of the chapter,” VanTreeck said.
“But to my knowledge we haven’t had any of these risky situations in recent history,” Van Treeck said. Van Treeck attributes this incident free history to the quality of people in the Greek community.
“Hazing stems from wanting to control a group of people and show authority over them,” Van Treeck said. “At Drake we respect each other and have created a culture that values the individual member and doesn’t want to subject them to hazing.”
Quinn, the executive vice president for the Interfraternity council, has seen a similar push in a positive direction.
“I think that now Drake Greek life is very focused on values and there is a push to recruit based on our values as organizations to better both the men and women we are recruiting and organizations as a whole,” Quinn said.
Quinn believes that Drake’s Greek life is a unique system, separate from the national stereotypes.
“I don’t think Drake portrays or practices those stereotypes that are portrayed in the media,” Quinn said.
Even with the remaining stigma surrounding Greek life nationally and locally on Drake’s campus, Drake Greek life does not align with these accusations. Instead, it’s focused on the chapters and their members.