Staff editorial: AEPi must learn from the mistakes of others

Washington University’s investigation of fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, which was put on temporary suspension March 30 for violations of policies related to alcohol, has culminated in the fraternity being placed on a yearlong social probation and the members being required to take University-run training modules in the subjects of bystander intervention and alcohol awareness. We would like to see the University take steps to more openly publicize the status of Greek life infractions and to continue to try other approaches, such as substantive classes for all, to try to improve Greek life.

As students, we don’t know the specific offence that resulted in AEPi’s suspension—which is exactly the issue here. Because we do know the violations were alcohol-related, we can only assume that these violations in some way impacted guests at their events—guests who may have chosen not to attend or may have changed their behavior had they known. Fraternities on suspension may be less likely to call Emergency Support Team for someone that needs help. As such, making the current and past misconduct of each Greek organization clear and accessible can enable the student body to make informed decisions that can protect their safety and well-being. (Not to mention that a public record would have the added benefit of incentivizing Greek members to mind their actions, as guilt has been shown to a powerful motivator.)

Further, social probation seems to be the go-to, one-size-fits-all reaction to fraternity infractions, with the only difference being the duration of the suspension. Phi Delta Theta, who was permanently suspended on campus earlier this semester, was placed on social probation with an obviously low degree of success months prior to reaching their current status. So, the University’s new discipline of training modules may be a useful addition, but, like social probation, if this training doesn’t produce meaningful results, the University needs to seriously consider taking other actions.

Even though we can only speculate why this keeps happening, the only wrong thing to do would be to do nothing. After years of seemingly unbroken stretches of misconduct, even with fines, probations and suspensions, the worst behavior of Greek life seems to remain. (Even though there are upstanding fraternities and sororities, there seems to be an unchanging vein of bad blood.) After being given chance after chance, one has to ask what there is left to do to try to prevent this behavior—something either more systemic than Green Dot and It’s on Us or more drastic than suspension.

We hope that all members of the student body learn from AEPi’s and Phi Delt’s mistakes. Going to college and being a young adult are all about making mistakes, yet the mistakes you learn from don’t all have to be your own. Even though we are young adults, we are still “adults:” We should all be able to be mature enough to gain wisdom (or at least recognize a cautionary tale) from the experiences of others.

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