by Cristopher Rubio
In a move that may change the way that sororities and fraternities operate across the country, David J. Skorton, President of Cornell University, has decided to eliminate pledging for all Greek Letter Organizations at Cornell. On the heels of the alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old Cornell student last spring, President Skorton felt he had no choice:
“This tragedy convinced me that it was time — long past time — to remedy practices of the fraternity system that continue to foster hazing, which has persisted at Cornell, as on college campuses across the country, in violation of state law and university policy,” said Skorton.
For starters, I have to applaud this decision as a step in the right direction. Thirty-five college students die every week due to alcohol related deaths. While it’s important to note that Greek Letter Organizations are not at fault for all alcohol-related deaths, they still play a role in this statistic. Cornell decided that enough was enough. After all, parents send their children to colleges and universities to better their lives, not to end them.
It seems that nearly every semester, a Greek Letter Organization is in the news for putting their prospective members through a humiliating – or worse – life-threatening ordeal. This culture, which can be defined as hazing, is not unique to sororities and fraternities, but it seems that these are the organizations that often take things a little too far. Have we not reached the point where we, as a community, say enough is enough? How can we keep allowing processes that result in the deaths of young women and men every year?
However, it’s also important not to lump all organizations in the same boat. Specifically, Latina/o Greek Letter Organizations (LGLO) conduct themselves much differently. While I cannot speak for every organization’s process, to my knowledge, all of the LGLOs that I have worked with conduct dry processes, induction processes in which alcohol plays no role throughout the process (LGLOs aren’t the only ones with dry processes, by the way). Prospective members are required to complete study hours, participate in community service, and build a bond with one another. The goal of the process is to ultimately create better leaders who will graduate and continue to give back to their respective communities.
I am proud to say that my process was spiritually uplifting, and has ultimately made me a better person. There have been numerous times in my life when I still use many of the lessons that I learned nearly seven years ago to help guide me through life. The relationships that I’ve built are ones that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
It only seems logical to believe that more universities will follow Cornell’s example in the coming months and years. What does this mean for the future of Greek Letter Organizations? I’m not 100 percent sure…I just hope that all Greek Letter Organizations don’t have to suffer for the mistakes of a few irresponsible college students.
To learn more about Cris, visit El Kamino Real.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.