Greek life reacts to Tripathi's suspension of all activities
Many UB students involved in Greek life were disappointed with President Satish Tripathi’s decision to indefinitely suspend all official fraternity and sorority events.
Friday’s suspension came after freshman Sebastian Serafin-Bazan was hospitalized following a possible hazing incident with fraternity Sigma Pi. The suspension bars students from participating in Greek Week, an annual week-long celebration where over 35 of UB’s official fraternities and sororities host events and fundraisers.The Spectrum reached out to over 50 fraternity and sorority members for their thoughts on the suspension but only two agreed to talk on the record, while others blocked editors on social media or refused to comment.
But Greek-life events and fundraisers are known to annually raise thousands for charities nationwide. For example, UB’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter has raised $3,154 this year (as of Sunday) toward the Ability Challenge, a fundraiser set to support people with disabilities. The fraternity placed second in a nationwide chapter competition in March.
And Greek week is when a lot of this happens.
Greek-life members know the university’s response shows its serious approach to the incident on Friday and hope that the victim is okay and surrounded by his family.
Still, the students said they consider it unfair to punish all organizations for the poor choices of a single group of students.
Jared Houghtaling, a member of Sigma Tau Gamma, was upset that the charity events his fraternity planned for Greek Week might not be happening.
“It hurts us as a whole Greek life but it also hurts the people we’re putting our money toward,” Houghtaling said.
Houghtaling, a junior accounting major, said he thinks the university could have removed Sigma Pi from Greek Week as a whole, but did not see the reason for the indefinite suspension.
“It’s once a year, those who got into [Greek life] this past year are going to have to wait another whole year to get involved in Greek Week, they’re going to miss it.” Houghtaling said.
Jamie Keeran*, a sorority member in Delta Phi Epsilon, said she thinks the suspension makes Greek life seem like a “bad thing.”
“It’s really not,” Keeran said. “It’s a great community. We have people everywhere around here. We’re all a community and I think that just paints us in a bad light. And there’s some stupid kids that do stupid things. You can’t really stop that because they’re going to do whatever they want in their own houses.”
Keeran said her sorority sisters in Delta Phi Epsilon were planning their annual “male pageant” for cystic fibrosis awareness. She said DPE usually raises “a lot” of money at the event and that Sigma Pi’s incident shouldn’t impact Greek Week fundraisers.
“[UB] is doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Keeran said. “ It’s good that they’re doing a good job at keeping everybody safe. But I just think that suspending Greek Week and things that are going toward good things shouldn’t be the reaction to the kid being hazed in Sigma Pi. Everybody else wasn’t involved in that incident.”
“People shouldn’t be subjected to not having [an event],” Keeran said. “Whatever happened [at Sigma Pi], they should be the main focus.”
Student Association Vice President Anyssa Evelyn, who doubles as a member of a sorority, wrote in an email that she is “devastated” about the incident and especially knowing it happened to a UB student.
“I feel as though this incident shines a poor light on all of Greek life,” Evelyn wrote. “The incident is not a reflection of the ideals I uphold as a member of Greek life.”
“I am nervous for the future of Greek life but I want to emphasize the importance our prospective Greek organizations serve in the UB community and the development it provides for its members.”
Houghtaling said he doesn’t think hazing will stop overall but there are ways the campus community can limit it from happening again.
“The frats and sororities that are more school-oriented, like business frats, they don’t do that type of stuff but off-campus [frats], that barely meet their requirements [to retain recognition] every semester, they are the ones doing these types of things,” Houghtaling said. “So I think if the frat is more involved with the school and student life as a whole, there could be less.”
The school-wide suspension is the first since 2002, when two local students drank alcohol at an Alpha Sigma Phi party and later died in a car crash, according to Spectrumrecords.
During the suspension, Vice President for Student Life A. Scott Weber will form an “internal review committee,” to examine each organization’s programs, policies and practices, according to UB Spokesperson John DellaContrada.
Houghtaling’s and Keeran’s comments for this story were made on Saturday afternoon.
* Keeran’s name was changed for anonymity
Tanveen Vohra contributed reporting to this story.