Editorial roundup

Time to end tolerance of hazing

The Columbus Dispatch, March 10

Will 2020 be the year that the toxic elements of Greek culture on Ohio’s college campuses start to die?

We surely hope so, and a raft of enforcement actions suggests it could be.

On Jan. 10, the Sigma Pi, Zeta Beta Tau and Phi Delta Theta fraternities at Ohio State University were ordered shut down for the next three years for hazing new recruits and plying underage students with so much alcohol that at least one needed medical attention.

On Feb. 28, Ohio State announced that four more fraternities and three sororities are suspended and under investigation for much the same sort of nonsense — alcohol abuse and physically endangering pledges.

The latest OSU announcement came the day after the first guilty pleas were heard in the criminal case stemming from the hazing death of Ohio University freshman Collin Wiant in 2018. Earlier the same week, 10 former members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Miami University pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of hazing.

The Dispatch told Wiant’s tragic story in the podcast “Broken Pledge” in November.

We’re glad to see colleges and universities take action against destructive, dangerous and sometimes criminal behavior that was tolerated for far too long. Still, the persistence of the culture is discouraging.

Getting in trouble doesn’t necessarily change the behavior of fraternities and sororities. Four of the seven houses whose investigations were announced last week had been punished for such behavior before; of the three that were suspended in January, two had been disciplined for similar violations in 2017.

Perhaps more criminal prosecutions, when warranted, would shake the complacency of the worst elements. We have supported Gov. Mike DeWine’s call for tougher criminal penalties and required reporting of hazing incidents to police, as well as a law to make the current misdemeanor offense a felony.

If some of these steps are taken and hazing still continues unabated, it will be time to reconsider whether the contributions of Greek organizations are worth the trouble they cause.

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