April 12, 2012

Letter to the Editor: A Call to End the Fraternity System

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To the Editor:

Re: “When a Hazing Goes Very Wrong,” The New York Times, April 12Finally, the New York Times has done what The Sun has never produced: in-depth coverage of a hazing incident, holding the guilty parties accountable for their actions and describing — in gripping detail — the night a series of irresponsible decisions resulted in death. The 3200-word magazine story began with kidnapped frat boys bound with zip ties being fed alcohol. It ended at a morgue.Many hazing incidents occurred during my four years on East Hill. Some resulted in chapters closing their doors, but none led to any sort of revolutionary change in greek life and the way Cornell deals with fraternity chapters.Many will blame hazing deaths on alcohol and quickly point out that underage drinking occurs well beyond the Greek system. This is certainly true. But it takes a particularly strong brand of daftness to dismiss the potent groupthink that occurs in a house of 40 self-selected jocular males as a necessary element in these lethal incidents.If Cornell wishes to curb hazing, it must recognize the merits of diverse, co-ed housing, where the aggressive and risk-prone are balanced by the timid and thoughtful. This is the whole point of college — putting a diverse set of bright, young students together to learn from one another. The Greek system is at best an impediment to this process. At worst, it destroys lives.

Munier Salem ’10Former member of The Sun editorial board