NEW ALBANY — The student-led ruling body on Greek life at Indiana University’s Bloomington campus voted unanimously Monday night to temporarily suspend fraternity social events and recruitment.
The vote comes after a string of fraternities on the campus have been punished over several years for hazing, and makes IU the seventh university in the country to have suspended Greek life in some way.
Students and leaders at Indiana University Southeast say that the suspension is a good move, but would be inappropriate for their own campus.
“What I think is awesome about this is … it was a unanimous decision,” Gabe Fulkerson, a student and fraternity member at IU Southeast, said. “College students in the fraternities said 'OK, we are going to suspend everybody because of all the things that have been happening.' Over drinking, hazing. It puts a stand that says it’s not the college that did this, it’s the college students in the fraternities.”
The difference in size between the Bloomington and New Albany campuses was a sticking point for Jackson Wagoner, another student and fraternity member, who said, “it’s a lot harder to corral that many brothers” at Bloomington. Wagoner also said he wouldn’t want to be punished for another fraternity's wrongdoing.
“I think it’s personally your choice,” Wagoner said. “You can’t be forced to drink and you can’t be forced to haze somebody. I don’t partake in activities that I know I’m not of legal age to do and I think that’s just responsibility.”
Associate Director of Campus Life Amanda Fenton said the lack of Greek housing at IU Southeast and the emphasis put on preventing the issues that can arise in a fraternity setting work to make the campus a good place for fraternities.
“We have a great Greek system here,” Fenton said. “Academically, philanthropy, with community service – they really have a very positive effect on the campus. Anytime you hear about a Greek community being affected by these major issues, it makes you stop and think, but I think we are blessed and lucky here because we put so much into prevention and prevention resources.”
Fenton said local and national speakers are brought in regularly to educate Greek students on hazing, sexual assault and the importance of drinking responsibly when age-appropriate.
Students can’t be monitored at all times and Fenton doesn’t think any one student is “perfect,” so if there is an issue, it is thoroughly investigated and addressed by the university.
Despite those issues that can be pervasive in Greek life, belonging to a fraternity at IU Southeast is a bridge for students at the predominantly commuter school, according to Fenton, who said “it really gives our students a great opportunity to meet other people, become connected to the campus and form a bond with a group of people on campus.”
That sense of belonging is what drove Fulkerson to Tau Kappa Epsilon. A former member of the U.S. Air Force, Fulkerson knew of fraternities from visiting friends at their college campuses and was interested in the kinship and networking opportunities.
“I saw something worth joining,” he said.