Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 27, 2017

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Drinking deaths and other concerns bring restrictions on college fraternities at four campuses

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1.gifRead about a college in your state (sports news is OK) and tell what you think of applying to that school.

2.gifFind coverage of students at any level and share a quote or topic sentence.

3.gifNow look for another issue involving safety and regulation. Summarize what's at stake.

Four student deaths at fraternities since April prompt a widespread look by college administrators at how to tighten controls at Greek system residences. Each of this year's tragedies is alcohol-related, and they reflect a familiar pattern. At least six young men died in connection with fraternity hazing rituals in 2014, according to a website that tracks the toll. Two years before that, seven died.

"Research shows that fraternity and sorority members make up some of the highest-risk college students in the nation, particularly with regard to continued and excessive substance abuse," says Eric Barron, president of Penn State. At his campus, a 19-year-old pledge died last spring after being forced to consume about 18 drinks in about 90 minutes. Twenty-six members who waited roughly 12 hours to call for help and who tried to hide evidence now face criminal charges. More recently, a 20-year-old Texas State University student was found dead after a night of heavy drinking at a fraternity. Another 20-year-old died at Florida State in nearly identical circumstances. At Louisiana State, the fourth 2017 victim was 18 and had a blood alcohol content more than six times the legal limit for driving and about two and a half times the amount that can cause a blackout. Ten students were arrested in October on misdemeanor hazing charges and one also faces a felony count of negligent homicide.

In response, four campuses – Ohio State, Florida State, Texas State and the University of Michigan -- have temporarily halted social activities and recruiting by fraternities (and sororities, in Florida's case). "The university will not tolerate behavior that puts the health and safety of students at risk," an Ohio State administrator says.

In addition to safety risks, critics see another drawback of houses with Greek letter names. "Fraternities and sororities contradict our stated values and undercut our supposed goals for higher education,” writes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. "They discriminate. They concentrate and enshrine privilege at a time when we're ostensibly trying to be more mindful of that." The Greek system on U.S. campuses dates back to the 1860s, notes sociologist Lisa Wade of Occidental College in Los Angeles. "Young rich men invented 'social' fraternities to isolate themselves from their middle-class peers, thumb their nose at the religious values of their professors and wrest control away from the administrators," she writes in Time magazine.

University president says: "Many members of the Penn State administration and board of trustees are wondering if we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Greek life at Penn State." – Eric Baron, after April pledge death

Student says: "They don't think we can think for ourselves. We didn't kill anybody, we're not hazing anybody. We're just trying to have fun. They're raining on our parade." -- Will Towers, Ohio State junior who belongs to Beta Theta Pi

Professor says: "Reform is not possible because the old-line, historically white social fraternities have been synonymous with risk-taking and defiance from their very inception. . . . These fraternities have drink, danger and debauchery in their blood — right alongside secrecy and self-protection. They cannot reform." – Lisa Wade, associate professor of sociology at Occidental College in Los Angeles

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2017
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