In April, the administration at SUNY Binghamton instituted a campus-wide ban on all pledging/new member activities as a result of a widespread hazing investigation. Articles in the Binghamton Pipe Dream (student newspaper), and the New York Times, provide an overview of the decision. There is very little specific information in these articles, and wide-spread outrage by the students involved with fraternities and sororities.
As a result of a Freedom of Information request, the university recently released 339 pages of documents to the Press & Sun-Bulletin (local Binghamton, NY newspaper). As described in the article, “almost every record, with the exception of a few, was nearly entirely redacted.”
As was the case in April, the lack of specific information results in articles full of comments that may, or may not, be related to the situations being investigated.
The comments by the current Panhellenic Council President, Samantha Vulpis, are particularly revealing, “The extreme lack of communication and disorganization within the administration has caused faulty assumptions as a result of anonymous reports regarding Greek life,” she said. “And while multiple administrators were speaking to the press about these issues, the students involved were completely left in the dark.”
If the allegations are as serious as those implied, I commend the BU administration for taking a strong stand against hazing. However, if they want to successfully enact cultural change, they must bring the student members into the process. They need to build a partnership with the student leaders by sharing enough information to demonstrate that the concern is real, and the steps being taken are appropriate. The longer the students (particularly chapter and council leaders) are kept “in the dark,” the harder it will be to rebuild trust and enact meaningful cultural change.