• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 47 comments on Sorority Suspended until 2013 for Hazing

    1. wait so they’ll all just continue to live, hang out, and go to frat parties together without actually being able to do anything “philanthropic” or “officially meet”. [Insert first world problems meme here]

  1. Honestly, it’s great that BU is taking SOME action for a change, but let’s be real, the hazing is going to continue once they come back. SDT takes a certain kind of girl, and those are the kinds of girls that would do that to their sisters. And as for AEPi, just because their charter is revoked doesn’t mean they’re going away any time soon. They still had a date night last week. This is a vicious cycle and it will continue until all students responsible are expelled to be made an example out of.

  2. I’m not sure what’s more pathetic–the members of the sorority who feel the need to haze, or the pledges who feel the need to be hazed for acceptance.

    Either way, both are so low on the rung of human respectability and maturity I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Go wait tables; university is for people intelligent enough to realize who profoundly stupid such practices are.

    1. Wow. Can we not start with the generalizations and the victim-blaming? Greek Life, for better or for worse, is a part of the social spectrum at colleges and universities. Students entering college will, more often than not, be concerned with making friends, as connections to other human beings is one of the core facets of most people’s sense of belonging and happiness. Greek organizations are willing and able to include new members into their various separate communities and into the Greek community as a whole. Unfortunately, people in positions of power are not always responsible, and awful incidents like hazing happen to people who were, I’m sure, hoping for a more positive experience and anticipating becoming a part of the fun, close, connected images of sororities and fraternities they had previously been exposed to. Perhaps some were in it for the status, and perhaps it is those who succumb too easily to power corruption and made victims out of others looking to join the groups. But really. Let’s not victim blame here. I am not and never have been a member of Greek life, but calling university a place for “people intelligent enough to realize [how] profoundly stupid such practices are” is unrealistic, judgmental, inaccurate, and insulting to everyone involved in the hazing, everyone involved in Greek life, and everyone currently or previously enrolled in university.

      1. First of all, ‘Greek life’ (as it’s so farcically called, as if many people, if any at all, in these neanderthaloid organizations have really any idea or interest in Greek culture and its influence today) isn’t a fact of all universities. It’s a fact of some, many of which enroll mostly privileged, under-matured, children for an outrageous $40 000/year. ‘Greek life,’ in this respect, is just another way that these children like to beget and perpetuate the joys of the exclusiveness of privilege.

        Which brings me to your second point. Naturally, when we move through life we make friends. Hopefully, the older we get the more we learn to dissociate making friends with joining groups that are predicated solely on social exclusion. What’s so perverse and pathetic about fraternities and sororities is that, unlike sports teams or activist groups, they are primarily predicated on a mentality of who’s in and who’s out. There is no shared activity that establishes a criterion by which membership is determined, like making the cut on a hockey team or being a good pitcher for the baseball team. It’s simply a matter of inclusion and exclusion for it’s own sake. You’ve no idea how utterly pathetic that looks from the outside, especially when you proudly wear your letters as if others are going to look at you with respect.

        How long until someone chimes in with the common refrain that these groups are ultimately philanthropic organizations, ultimately concerned with charity?

        Here’s what I think about that line of nonsense: charity is about being a responsible member of a community, not sticking pie in your face so you can put on your resume that you raised $400 for some cause in Africa that doesn’t really impact you whatsoever. So, if you want to really be charitable, start in your own communities, like Allston. For example, consider this:

        How about cleaning up the neighborhood on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, after many of you have barfed, littered, or broken bottles on the street? How about a few times a year sending out ‘representatives’ to knock on doors and ask people how they feel about the fraternities/sororities in their neighborhood, and how it can be better? How about getting people to knock on doors to offer some sincere apologies after extremely loud and at times violent nights in the “GAP” area? This is real charity, and none of you do any of that.

        It’s not about charity, it’s about a need to belong, because most of you can’t stand on your own two feet. And it’s so sad, because many of us learned to do that after elementary school.

        And yes, university is for smart people. Not over-privileged narcissists whose parents pay over $100 000 so they can basically extend their childhood four more years before getting hired by an accounting firm impressed with their fraternity/sorority pedigree.

        1. Hear hear, SR.

          BU is a small city within a city of ~30000 students. I went to BU and have lived near the campus for several years. Based on my experience, my temptation in many situations is to generalize and say that “all BU students are airheads who haven’t grown out of adolescents by their 20s”, but I know this is not true. I’ve also met great people there who have changed my life – honest, hardworking, mature, intellectual people with minds of their own.

          This being said, I feel almost no guilt when the temptation is to generalize about fraternity/sorority students. These are the students who, among a crowd which is mostly overgrown teenagers already, have actively sought out a belonging to group whose value lies in social status among other airheads. Whose REAL utility is in providing a good excuse to meet and socialize, with an occasional reference to archaic traditions upheld by the founders of the house, charity, and other modes of maintaining a pretense of usefulness to society. These are the creme de la creme of airheadedness, as is exemplified by the poster defensively describing “Greek life” above. You’ve got to be kidding me.

  3. As a parent reading about these events on campus- I see a policy of no tolerance should be maintained- the hazing idea can be so dangerous.. and I do not think these kinds of organizations should be allowed to return. There is no way to control them when they return on campus, except a lucky tip.

  4. BU is an school in a diverse, urban environment. Greek life is a childish, provincial clique where people pay people to be their friends so they can be rude, exclusive, and intolerant towards others. BU should simply disband all of these organizations as counter to the school’s urban mission and environment. That way, these immature students will simply self-select out and choose schools that allow this behavior.

  5. I am sick of the culture out there that says that individuals do not have the right to choose what is best for them. If students know the risks, then they should be able to take them. There was nowhere that stated that those girls could not leave the sorority. All that happened was that a bunch of girls, who already idolized drinking, got together to drink a whole lot. Coercion is powerful, be we have to stop this myth that it will someday not exist.

    Rather than be reactionary, BU should focus on preventative measures like teaching freshman the skills necessary to make responsible decisions and offering better alternatives than the terrible events the school has now that effectively ban even responsible consumption of alcohol. Punishing those after the fact does nothing. While the overall drinking rates go down from these restrictive policies, the number of excessive binge drinkers goes up. All that ends up happening is that the same people that want to drink continue to drink underground and sometimes have to drink a lot at one time to avoid punishment.

    1. Agreed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our approach to dealing with this is so backwards.

      In any case, if the people you choose to hang around are doing oppressive things and you don’t object, worse yet, you participate, then you’re equally as guilty. No one is a victim here. Everyone should be punished for their lack of better judgement. Learn what it means to be a conscientious, intellectual human being. What void are they trying to fill in their lives that makes them accept things like this that are so obviously wrong even a four year old would object?!

  6. How can BU recognize fraternities and sororities? As a freshmen everyone I know that has pledged has gone through hazing. A couple of them went to the hospital from drinking to much. Anyone who comes on here talking about Philanthropic bullshit knows their full of b.s, as the whole point of pledging at BU is to be able to engage in party life over in Allston when you first get here, and don’t have real friends yet. Maybe instead of allowing these social gangs to fuck with students with low self esteem the University should improve the culture of the school. There’s so many events going on all the time that are so cheap for students, and I’ve met so many people from going to them. Honestly I see these fraternities and sororities as gangs, just because their not poor does not mean they don’t hurt their members and those around them in the same way.

    For the amount of great strides forward that BU takes, it amazes me that they are willing to recognize these gangs of under-age drinkers to parade around.

    Like how about that rock in BU central? Why do fraternities spray paint it all the time? That is so f*cking stupid! How does that contribute anything to the University? It embodies the whole concept of Frats at BU, a complete joke for anyone who hasn’t gotten converted to them by hazing

  7. If only the organization changed its name to Sigma Tau Delta, each lady could come back to campus after suspension as an STD ;)

    1. I am not a fan of Greek life at all, but there is no reason to conflate what happened here with the stereotype of the promiscuous sorority girl. That’s not necessary.

  8. Before making such harsh comments in reply to this article, maybe it would be better to fact check first.

    Not all sororities and fraternities on campus are bottle breaking, vomiting, littering good-for-nothings. In fact, not all sororities and fraternities just party their lives away. Each individual member of their respective chapters are still members of the BU academic community — and most are involved in other activities and sports on campus. People do not just join Greek Life to meet friends that they otherwise could not have made on their own. They join to -enhance- their social lives and meet people they might not necessarily have met without the Greek organization they are a part of. You cannot judge an entire Greek community based on what you see on the weekends in Allston or hear about in the news — these are incidents that involve specific individuals, not every single member of every single fraternity or sorority on campus.

    As a member of Greek Life, I can confidently attest that we are not all “gangs of underage drinkers” parading around Allston. Seriously.

    We also DO pride ourselves in our philanthropies. Do you even know what amazing charities our Greek Community supports? Ronald McDonald House, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network, Service for Sight, North American Food Drive… the list goes on. While the example of “$400 to some cause in Africa” is also a noble one, please know what you are talking about before making such a statement. Our philanthropies DO help those in need in our community.

    While the members of Greek Life who were not involved in the hazing incident of SDT acknowledge that it was a horrible one, and acknowledge that it is a problem that needs to be fixed through education and prevention, we are also aware that not every member of Greek Life was involved. The rest of the BU community needs to acknowledge this as well.

    1. Please cut and paste this comment — you can save it for next time — and the time after that.

      When I see a pattern of sororities turning in fraternities for hazing incidents, I might start believing the myth of “Good Greeks.” I won’t hold my breath while waiting.

      Denial is not just a river in North Africa.

      1. Its funny everyone wants to ban greeklife over one or two mistakes. But no one is suggesting that we get rid of athletes even though they have been continuously “making mistakes”. At least Greek life is helping out the community what are athletes doing ?

        1. at least athletes have talent, skill, and fulfill their purpose of working hard and winning games. Greek Life’s purpose of making a difference by improving the lives of it members (they haze), the community and the world (they barely raise money compared to other organizations a fraction of their size)

    2. I’ll cut you a deal. If I see your ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ outside in Allston scraping puke off the sidewalks and cleaning up broken glass on the road on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, I’ll come here and fully concede that I’m entirely wrong about you.

      Let’s see some real charity from you guys–you know, not just the kind that puts another line on a resume, but the kind that is selfless and earnest.

      Do it. Really. Let’s see it.

      I’ll drop the condition that you send out members for public relations through out the neighborhood.

      Just clean up your own puke–all I ask.

  9. No matter what you think about the issue, the grammar and spelling everyone used here to make their lengthy treatises are embarrassing, proving the quality of each and every argument made.

  10. Can you all just get back to studying for your Mrs. degrees oh I meant whatever psych, public relations, or COM major you happened to settle for

    1. But actually.. we have the WORST reputation because of these kind of these kind of girls.. I mean Greek life is bs anyways, the way sororities pick their “sisters” is based mostly on looks, and then all they do is gossip about one another, or did everyone forgert all the stuff from collegeacb.com
      come on philanthropy? really? You can raise money the same way without needing to binge drink every weekend..

  11. Wow. The amount of vitriolic judgement going on here really shocks me. There are judgements about philanthropy,  Greek Life, majors, schools, BUworks, and even grammar!  You have called your fellow students biddies and likened them to gang members. You have made references to sexually transmitted diseases and called your fellow students over-privileged narcissists who can’t stand on their own two feet. 

    There are 16,000 undergraduate students at Boston University. There are countless students groups. Some are recognized university groups and some are just people coming together with common interests or even just plain old friendship. So however YOU choose to spend your free time at BU is YOUR business. If you want to be on the Quidditch team then be on the Quidditch team. If you want to be involved in Hillel then be involved in Hillel. If you want to support LGBT issues then support LGBT issues. If you want to want to be in the ski club then be in the ski club. And….if you want to be involved in Greek life then be involved in Greek life. The list could go on and on.  ALL of these groups need to respect each other. One is not better than the other. 

    As a parent of a BU student I would like to see a lot more respect about this situation. Hazing is wrong. Those responsible should be held accountable. Let the rules that are in place be enforced.  Educate ALL on campus about dangerous behaviors. And most important….respect each other while continuing this important discussion. 

    1. We liken them to gang members because that’s what sororities have become, gangs for insecure undergraduate girls. As a parent it might seem harsh but we all (especially those of us who know people in sororities) see it on a daily basis. Want evidence for their gang-like behavior? read the article above all these comments

  12. Thank you for your suggestion but i have been following the story and reading all of the articles on this matter. Excessive drinking happened, bad decisions were made. Hazing happened. It needs to stop. But if all members of Greek life were behaving this way then the community would collapse under its own weight. Classifying all sorority members as insecure undergraduate girls is narrow minded. Stereotyping like this is unproductive. Surely you can’t believe, as an open minded college student, that ALL members of Greek life fit into this narrow classification. If you do, I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on meeting some great people.

    1. every sorority i know of hazes in some manner and i often observe the “group think” mentality pressuring my sisters into poor choices, bad grades, and bad mentalities. Joining a sorority I made a lot of new friends and it quickly became my life. I thought it was a productive decision I’d celebrate. but a year and more later, i see all the downsides and regret my decision

      1. to hear of your experience, but I know of sororities who do not haze here. Nor do they pressure their sisters into bad choices, grades, or mentalities. T

  13. Hazing is never “ok” but to slam joining a sorority/faternity on the basis that you don’t think they do any good is just wrong. My daughter joined an organization last year as a freshman and has done much in the way of “charity” in these last two years. She has volunteered many times over at the school for the blind, spent every Friday evening traveling quite a distance to help over in Chelsea, lending a hand with children (tutoring, doing homework, playing) so that these children’s parents/guardians could go run errands, work etc. She has also traveled to senior centers to provide companionship, raised money for cancer research…..the list goes on and on! All of these things have been for the benefit of your very own community, which happens to Not be her own home town. On top of this, she is also traveling to Honduras to help with the Medical Brigades this May. How many of you criticizing these organizations can say that you have done half of this?? My daughter is a caring, thoughtful, intelligent young women and we are very proud of her and what she is accomplishing during her time at the university and part of this is her involvement with her sorority. Not one entire organization is all good or bad, there are mistakes made at every level, within all organizations, athletic, greek life, within your own communities. It is the choices we make as individuals Not an entire organization. Take a good look within yourself instead of bashing others as I’m sure there is some aspect that you could change to make the world, as a whole, a better place!

  14. Some of the hatred being thrown about on this articles’ comments is quite surprising. I know that this does not represent the general opinion of BU because only those vehemently for or against Greek Life would be commenting, but it is still surprising. As a member of Greek Life, the SDT and AEPi incidents were disappointing for sure. That is not what we are about. We’re about having a closely-knit group of friends that are always there for you, no matter what happens. We share common interests, beliefs, and goals just like every other student organization on campus.

    We can’t dress differently? Why? If we get chastised for wearing our letters and what we like, shouldn’t hipsters be criticized for being different? Why is it any different? Seems like a double standard to me. I’ve gained a lot from being in Greek Life, and wouldn’t change anything about the process of me joining, or what has occurred within my organization since I’ve joined.

    As for the criticisms of our philanthropy and how it isn’t “authentic”, what have the critics of us been doing to benefit the community? We’ve raised thousands of dollars this year for our philanthropy. How much have you raised or volunteered? My organization has volunteered over 750 hours of community service. It seems as though people are very quick to criticize without really looking at their impact on the community.

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