Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 17, 2024

Greek life is harming students. Let’s abolish it.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | November 4, 2021


On Monday, the University informed students of a reported intentional drugging incident at a Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity party over the weekend. 

The News-Letter stands in support of the victim. The paper is currently conducting our own investigation on the transpired events, and we are committed to keeping the community informed as more details become available. 

Unfortunately, the administration continually fails to adequately address incidents like these in our community. The University’s email about the intentional drugging failed to condemn the incident, instead providing a laundry list of ways to avoid “becoming the victim of a drugging incident.” 

Students are outraged, and rightfully so. In the past few days, a social media post correcting the University’s statement has circulated among the student body, and we agree with the edits: It’s not the responsibility of an individual to make sure they aren’t taken advantage of. 

Rather than instilling policies that might prevent these scenarios, the University has taken the problematic stance of shifting the burden of responsibility to the victims. This is clear proof of the persistence of rape culture at Hopkins, especially within fraternities. 

We’re past the point of reform — we call on the University to abolish Greek life. As extreme as it may sound, there have been far too many cases of sexual assault and misconduct at the hands of these student organizations. 

We wouldn’t be the first school to do so. Students at universities like Northwestern and Swarthmore have already recognized the violence Greek life has inflicted on their respective campuses. Swarthmore eliminated fraternities and sororities in 2019, and many students at Northwestern have disaffiliated and disbanded their chapters in the past year.

Last year, we called on the Hopkins community to change the culture surrounding Greek life after an investigation by The News-Letter found that seven students, two of which formally filed reports with the University, alleged they had been drugged at the Delta Phi (St. Elmo’s) fraternity house. 

Hopkins did not take adequate action against these reports, instead sanctioning the fraternity with a cease and desist order in response to an unrelated sexual assault allegation. Irrespective of this order, the fraternity still hosted its fall “Freshman Party” in 2019. 

Countless instances of violence and discrimination taint the history of fraternities at Hopkins. In 2015, a 16 year-old girl was raped by non-Hopkins affiliates at a fraternity party. In 2014, a brother was stabbed at a gathering in his fraternity house. Students called out a racist “hood” themed Halloween fraternity party in 2006. And the list goes on… 

It’s clear that we are not simply reckoning with “Greek life culture” at Hopkins, but Greek life itself. These issues are not exclusive to the named chapters, but pervade the entire institution that is Greek life. 

Ultimately, we cannot tell students what they should or should not do. But we urge those involved in a fraternity or sorority to question their own role in Greek life. Why did you go through the recruitment process? How inclusive is your chapter? Do you feel your organization, at Hopkins and nationally, represents your values? If mixers and date parties weren’t a consideration, would you still participate? 

We can’t see any real reason why these organizations, which originated as a means for wealthy white men to gatekeep their social circles, continue to exist. Your own positive experiences with an organization do not negate the problems inherent to these institutions. 

We sincerely hope that next year’s Editorial Board doesn’t have to respond to another incident like this. We won’t let our calls for action go unanswered any longer. 

Editors note: Some members of this week’s Editorial Board are currently affiliated with Greek organizations on campus. 

In the event of an immediate emergency, students should call 911 or Campus Safety and Security. Students who have experienced druggings can submit anonymous or named reports via the University-wide reporting form JHU Speak 2 Us. Students can also report directly to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethics or Fraternity and Sorority Life through their websites under the “Report an Incident” tab.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you can seek help from the following Hopkins-specific, local or national confidential resources: JHU Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU) 24/7 Peer Crisis Support Hotline — (410) 516-7887; JHU 24/7 Sexual Assault Helpline — (410) 516-7333; TurnAround Inc 24/7 Helpline — (443) 279-0379; Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline — 1 (800) 656-4673.

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