Fraternity Insanity

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE LAWSUITS … By LEN ANTHONY  ||  In October of 2012 a UNC-Chapel Hill freshman fraternity pledge was found dead at a concrete plant near the University.  He had a blood alcohol concentration of .22.  The young man apparently fell 40 feet from a tower.  The…


len anthonyBy LEN ANTHONY  ||  In October of 2012 a UNC-Chapel Hill freshman fraternity pledge was found dead at a concrete plant near the University.  He had a blood alcohol concentration of .22.  The young man apparently fell 40 feet from a tower.  The fall occurred sometime during the wee morning hours of a Saturday.  According to The Daily Tarheel newspaper, police spent months appealing to members of the fraternity and the University community for more information about the pledge’s death but they were met with a wall of silence.

More recently, Wesleyan University banned students from the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house because of “a long history of incidents there.”  The fraternity house had reportedly become known as the “rape factory.”  The reason for the ban was a student fell out of a third story window and is in critical condition.

This week it was reported that a fraternity at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is being investigated on suspicion that members put “date rape” drugs into drinks served at a party.

Allegedly the fraternity had a reputation for putting “roofies” into women’s drinks.  Apparently, no one took any action until four people were hospitalized after consuming drinks served by the fraternity.

The University of South Carolina just suspended the Delta Tau Delta chapter from campus for four years due to alcohol violations. The fraternity was on social probation when the violation occurred.

Now, we learn that a Clemson fraternity pledge died after he “fell” from a bridge during a pre-dawn pledge run.  The local sheriff’s office said the death is “very suspicious.” WSPA TV-7 (CBS – Spartanburg, S.C.) reported that local members of the fraternity did not want to talk.  On Tuesday, Clemson enacted a ban on social activities for all 24 fraternities on campus.  The Vice President for Student Affairs said the ban was required due to reports of possible criminal activities and violations of the University’s code of conduct — ranging from alcohol-related medical emergencies to sexual misconduct.

I promise you, in every instance the university was aware (“on notice” to use the legal terminology) that there were serious problems with these fraternities, yet, they either took no, or insufficient, action to address the problems.  The demise of the application of loco parentis to colleges and universities in the 1960’s and 1970’s may have caused schools to believe they have no duty and thus no liability to students.  They are wrong.  The laws of negligence and gross negligence still apply.  Courts are beginning to look at the totality of the circumstances in tragic situations such as those described in this article and find that the college or university had a duty, which was breached, to take action.  I hope the parents of the Clemson student sue Clemson and the fraternity because apparently, until these type situations start having a monetary impact on the school or fraternity, nothing will change.

My direct experience with fraternities both as a member of a fraternity and my son’s experience, as well as a fair amount of research, convinces me that groups of 18-21 year old young men/ children (physically they are grown but their judgment has not reached an adult stage) require supervision and oversight.  When they are allowed to form into groups with no oversight the book Lord of the Flies  is unfortunately instructive.  In addition to supervision and oversight, they must be forced to suffer the consequences of their actions. When tragedies such as the UNC-Chapel Hill and Clemson students’ deaths occur and fraternity brothers refuse to talk with law enforcement or are not completely honest or forthcoming, the parents and the universities need to take action. Take them out of the fraternity. Take or kick them out of school.

At this point, membership in a fraternity is counterproductive to the purpose of college, obtaining a good education.  All it does is provide a place for underage drinking and drug use and boorish behavior.  Either fraternities should be eliminated or significant oversight instituted.

The oversight can be provided by the universities or the fraternities’ national organizations.

I know the frat boy defenders will pontificate all the way to the hospital or morgue about the friendships made, relationships built or male bonding forged as wonderful benefits of fraternities.  These supporters are basically “Frank the Tank” from the movie Old School. In the absence of fraternities college students will still make friends and build relationships.  They will still bond as they work together on school assignments, play sports, and grow up. And best of all they will live to tell their children about their college days.

Len Anthony spent thirty years as in-house counsel for a public utility. He’s now semi-retired living in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. Wanna sound off on FITS? Submit your letter to the editor or opinion column HERE.

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Speak Up Pussies September 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

It’s sad that the same popularity trolls that have their mommies and daddies buy them a group of friends won’t fess up when one of their own loses his life taking part in their little social utopian activities. Instead they’ll all feign sorrow and pour a little craft beer out for their fallen homie. Pathetic.

vicupstate September 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm

The Oconee Sheriff says there is no indication yet of hazing. Getting 20+ people to all relay the same false story without messing up under investigation is easier said than done. Don’t assume things about people you don’t even know in the first place.

Speak Up Pussies September 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I wasn’t only talking about Clemson there Vicki. We all know the upstate is the center of your universe, but there are other places mentioned in this article. What’s more, the easiest way to corroborate a story is by refusing to talk.

vicupstate September 25, 2014 at 3:28 pm

I haven’t followed the other incidents and am not familiar with them. Therefore I won’t comment on them. I suggest you do the same. If the sources are as credible as WSPA, I wouldn’t take them at face value though.

Name September 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Oconee Sheriff’s office … *rolls eyes* …… Wait till the private investigators crack this case.

Goober September 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm

They got Ang and Barney hot on the trail up there?

Nölff September 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I wasn’t in a fraternity due to the popped collar douchbags who run those. If somebody wants to haze you, you’re trying to hard to make friends. Just go to the bar get a pint and study and you’ll meet good friends.

Legacy Schmegacy September 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I could have gotten a legacy referral, but opted to go to the bar, get a pint and meet good people.

Blackball September 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Who dropped the Black Ball on you?

Legacy Schmegacy September 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Your mother.

john dozier September 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm

“Animal House” redux.

vicupstate September 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Your description of the Clemson incident is not what the local papers are reporting. WSPA is the local National Enquirer of TV in the upstate, they sensationalize everything.

ALL of the fraternity members with knowledge of the Clemson events have been interviewed by law enforcement, and the Sheriff says there is no indication of hazing, per The Greenville News.

Young adults indeed need supervision, but just as many non-fraternity college students die in the same ways you describe.

Fraternities are moving away from ‘pledging’. That will eliminate the intimidation/peer pressure that allows hazing to occur. It just needs to happen faster.

Oh What Now September 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

The local mouth pieces only report what the police and officials tell them. Investigative journalism (the real kind) is not mirroring their story.

vicupstate September 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Please provide those sources. All I want is the truth to come out, but I am not going to accuse someone of something without proof and a proper investigation.

xx September 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm

“but just as many non-fraternity college students die in the same ways you describe.” You are rationalizing. That is an irresponsible statement. The fact is the Sig Ep pledges were REQUIRED to do a 5:30am. THAT IS HAZING!

vicupstate September 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm

The Women’s Soccer team is accused of hazing too. Does that mean the team should be disbanded?

If any hazing occurred, hold the offenders accountable and don’t punish those that did nothing wrong in the first place.

Is it hazing to require Army recruits to run? You act like they were running naked into ice water. Physical fitness is not detrimental to anyone’s well-being, just the opposite. If he didn’t want to run, he could have de-pledged.

xx September 28, 2014 at 7:17 pm

As for the Women’s soccer team, those guilty should be punished or perhaps fired/dropped from the team for misconduct. As for the Army, every recruit is made aware of the physical fitness regimes and tough circumstance they must endure because, simply put, they are being trained to KILL the enemy. Fraternity Hazing is ILLEGAL. Obviously you are not a man, because a real man never wants to quit or “rat out” his friends/brothers. Obviously, you are not a lawyer either. Look up the definition of hazing.

vicupstate September 29, 2014 at 8:57 am

As for the Women’s soccer team, those guilty should be punished or perhaps fired/dropped from the team for misconduct

Do the same thing with the fraternities. Why treat them any differently? Take care of the bad apples and be done with it.
I know what hazing is, but it has not been stated that the running was a REQUIREMENT. It was only hazing if it was required. If it were required, it is certainly not life-threatening or extreme hazing. A 19 man would normally have no problem with that level of physicality, and probably was REQUIRED to do the same thing in P.E. class. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill. There is no indication that even if required, that Hipps did not want to participate. If it was required, the fraternity will be held accountable, as it should.

How is de-pledging ratting someone out? It happens every semester in most fraternities for a variety of reasons. 90% of the time it is an amiable parting. Being in a fraternity is a personal choice and is not irreversible, nor is it for everyone.

xx September 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

To answer your first question, the fraternities charters are contingent on ALL MEMBERS following codes of conduct, grade requirements, alcohol policies, etc. That is why it is treated differently than a soccer team or Army recruits. And it has indeed been stated that the pledges were required to run. Whether that is true or not is the real question.

xx September 28, 2014 at 7:32 pm

My impression is that the more respectable fraternities are not hazing or using intimidation tactics. Less respectable ones require branding pledges arms with the frat letters, making them carry cigarettes around for the brothers convenience, perform embarrassing dances on campus, etc.

SC Political Digest September 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Liberal-Tarians = Hypocrites.

Can’t have it both ways, geared to yours, and the media’s, convenience, Dumb@$$.

Gary Teekay September 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Notice how sooner or later during the course of debates on these issues, somebody attacks opposing points of views by accusing them of the horrible crime of being “liberal.” Frat boys are more conservative than the general student population. They are more likely to go into business than the general student population. They are more likely to be misogynous, homophobic and racist than the general population. There is all kinds of social science research on these issues, but since it was no doubt not conducted by conservative businessmen/frat boys, it is no doubt suspect as being liberal.

Nölff September 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I think he went to Tri-county tech. They don’t do fraternities there.

SC Political Digest September 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Bigot much?

PS: I’m directing the comment to the author. And I think your level of stupidity DOES qualify YOU as a Liberal. (:

John from Irmo September 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

placing the blame on the college/university is typical of today’s mentality of not accepting
responsibility for your own actions.

Old Frat Guy September 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

1) The entire 911 call in available on the Anderson Independent website. It is odd to say the least.
2) If nothing is amiss then there was no need for these boys to hire lawyers
3) There is nothing more suspicious than 20 people telling the exact same story
4) There is a reason that many of these activities now take place off-campus just as this one did. The frats are aware of the legalities, are schooled on how to continue these activities, and the recidivism rate for fraternities suspended is high.

Personally I hope that nothing stupid was done by any of these guys and they can go on and live a guilt-free life. I suspect that once this young man’s family has given him a proper burial they will start the process of getting answers by whatever means are necessary.

At the end of the day, I have to agree with your article. Is it really worth it in the end? I think not. Greek life today is not what it was decades ago.

Clemson Cover Up September 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm

When they lawyer up at the speed of light, it speaks volumes.

Philip Branton September 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm


Dear Mr. Anthony…….

” ..I promise you, in every instance the university was aware (“on notice” to use the legal terminology) that there were serious problems with these fraternities, yet, they either took no, or insufficient, action to address the problems…..”

Well…sir, I hope you have the guts to call Mr. Simmons from ESPN and represent him in his “tirade” on his podcast calling Roger Goodell a bold FACE LIAR…!!!

Talk about free speech INSANITY..! You mean that if a worker from Coke realizes that his or her company is not using at least 50 % LOCAL energy to manufacture and transport their product and tells the viewing public that HE or SHE can lose their jobs for telling the SLAVERY TRUTH…!?

Sir, you take this time and subject to SOUND off on a frat death but when our bombs KILL women and kids because of OIL…you say SQUAT…?

Maybe you need to re-watch Erin Brockovich and ask yourself where your stinkin TRASH goes too………!!! (Fist POUNDzzz…!)

Dare to wonder how plasma waste to energy converters where scammed that resulted in our troops (and myself) being exposed to BURN PITS…!?

SO…Mr. Anthony, dare to wager what I can tell about you from your FACEBOOK page alone…!?

Len……..get busy…….

John September 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Put down the crack pipe, Phillip.

Clemson Cover Up September 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Criminal negligence is a far more serious form of negligence that usually involves the death of another individual. The defendant has failed to perceive the serious nature of his or her actions and instead precipitated a gross violation of the standard of care expected on an individual.

usc1801 September 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

As a former USC employee I assure you the higher ups are well aware of everything frats do. In fact, some of the fraternities had chapter advisers that were high up in Student Affairs and they were well aware of the alcohol abuse, hazing, and property destruction they did. They did their best to cover it up. Greek Life did nothing but cover up hazing instances at USC. It was a total joke. One of these days these groups will cost a university some major money in a civil lawsuit.

tapa kegga beer September 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Shezus – Go back to defending the right of monopolistic entities to unilaterally raise rates with impunity, and leave the generalized stereotypical platitudes to the talking heads who vet paid to do it? Also, the presupposition that fraternities are indefensible is pretty simplistic even for a public utilities attorney whose used to the “tough scruitinty” of the public commissions they’ve already bought and paid for. My school had 33 fratenties and we didn’t kill anyone, though some non fraternity persons did die in stupid pranks, I don’t think that made the fraternity men “better” luckier perhaps. But hey, hatred needs a target and you’ve got yours now. This was only slightly more mornic than your last piece on drinking. But that took some real work.

Robert September 26, 2014 at 8:56 am

I had a friend who died from alcohol hazing one semester at Carolina. It was either SAE or Sigma Nu, can’t remember. It was very sad to watch his parents come clean out his room.


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