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The student government at the University of West Georgia is looking to cut funding to the school’s student newspaper in retaliation for an opinion piece that mocked fraternities.

The day after the West Georgian ran a column called “Join a Frat with Buck Futter, Jr.” student body president Alan Webster — a fraternity brother himself — introduced a bill that would freeze the paper’s funds on a “temporary yet immediate” basis while the university explored alternative ways to “allocat[e] institutional funds to extend interesting, informative, accurate, and responsible information in a manner that sheds a positive light on the University.”

The bill was passed by the student government and is being reviewed by university lawyers prior to implementation.

The offending column described frat members as “over-aggressive alcoholics that have no sense of responsibility,” and said that the university repeatedly lets “frats off the hook despite their incessant rule-breaking and idiotic antics.” It claims that frat members keyed the word “FAG” into the finish of a Resident Assistant’s car, and went unpunished “because University Police never actually investigate any crimes against students.”

It also suggests that UWG fraternity members regularly have sex with each other and rape passed-out female students.

A yearlong drug investigation at the University of Illinois culminated in more than two dozen arrests last week.

But all the cops found was six ounces of pot and some Xanax.

The UI campus police launched “Operation Thunder Strike” last fall, and the force decided to make “a little bit of a splash” before the end of the semester, according to Lt. Roy Acree. They obtained search warrants and arrest warrants for seventeen people, and swept in on three fraternity houses and several apartments starting last Tuesday.

They made twenty-five arrests, twenty-one of UI students, but Acree said the total haul was “180 grams of cannabis, numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia, cocaine residue, and some Xanax pills.” Cops also confiscated two vehicles, three television sets, two computers, and about three thousand dollars in cash.

Spring classes end tomorrow at UI, and final exams start this Friday.


(The Chronicle of Higher Education swallowed the campus cops’ line on this bust, by the way, but the comment thread on their story is turning into a real doozy.)

Steven Oliver and Kendra Key met in the contest for the student government presidency at the University of Alabama this year.

More than fourteen thousand students, well over half the campus population, voted — the most in UA history. The race was close, with less than two percentage points separating the two candidates. But in the end Olvier, a white man, defeated Key, a black woman, by two hundred and sixty-one votes.

UA is the flagship campus of Alabama’s state university system, and it has never had a black student body president. In the fourteen years since its current student government was established, seventeen students of color have run for campus-wide office. All have lost. 

Race is not the only factor in Alabama’s student government elections, of course. (The campus’s student body is more than eighty-five percent white, to start with, which means the majority of Key’s support came from white students.) Oliver ran with heavy support from fraternities and sororities, and the divide between greeks and independents played a major role in the campaign.

But the fact that UA’s student officers have been — and remain — all white has significant consequences for the student government, and the campus as a whole. UA’s student newspaper, the Crimson White, grapples with those consequences in two articles — here and here.

A gay first-year student at Jacksonville State University in Alabama claims that he was rejected by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity because of rumors about his sexual orientation. On one level, this is an unsurprising story. But on another, as Pam Spaulding notes, it’s very interesting indeed.

Steele Jackson says Pi Kappa Phi blackballed him when rumors that he was gay began to circulate, but chapter president Chris Stokes denies it, saying the frat doesn’t “discriminate based on … any kind of orientation.” In that, Stokes is following the mandates of the fraternity’s national body, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

So Jackson, a gay student at an Alabama state college, was willing to say so publicly. The president of the local chapter of the fraternity he pledged denied explicitly that the frat discriminates against gay pledges. And they both made their statements in an article in their campus newspaper.

As Spaulding says, “this particular story has a lot to offer in terms of observations about life in Red State America and the changes that are under way.”

I recently stumbled across an interesting study of hazing in American colleges and universities, released earlier this year. I haven’t had the chance to fully digest it yet, but I thought I’d pass it along.

A few highlights of the executive summary:

55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing.

Hazing occurs in, but extends beyond, varsity athletics and Greek-letter organizations and includes behaviors that are abusive, dangerous, and potentially illegal.

Alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep- deprivation, and sex acts are hazing practices common across types of student groups.

In more than half of the hazing incidents, a member of the offending group posts pictures on a public web space.

More students perceive positive rather than negative outcomes of hazing.

In 95% of the cases where students identified their experience as hazing, they did not report the events to campus officials.

Nine out of ten students who have experienced hazing behavior in college do not consider themselves to have been hazed.

The study defines “hazing” quite broadly, and I’m not sure I buy all of its premises, but it’s certainly worth a peek.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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