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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

TXST fraternities are working toward better reputation, unregistered frats are not helping

Quinn Fanta

Since 2017, after the tragic, alcohol-related death of Matthew Ellis at an off-campus initiation, fraternity life at Texas State is marked with a stain, one that is not easily removed without great effort and reform.

Texas State’s freshman classes have experienced record sizes for the past three years, bringing many new students looking to join fraternities. It is essential for incoming students to understand what they are getting into.

Today, the university enforces strict hazing guidelines and serious consequences for those involved in hazing and other forms of misconduct. However, incidents are still occurring.

Per the Texas Education Code, Texas State lists a detailed description of hazing incidents on the school website.  The reports are difficult to read.

In 2019, new members of Lambda Chi Alpha were “required to perform acts of servitude, required chores and tasks, verbally berated [and] told to jump off a roof.” In addition, “fight nights [were] hosted” and “associate members [were] required to sell illicit drugs to make a profit for the colony.”

In 2022, Alpha Psi Omega members were “blindfolded and wrapped with plastic wrap (2-4 times) binding their arms to their bodies.”

In 2023, Phi Beta Sigma members “were required to perform calisthenics during unsanctioned meetings.”

Also in 2023, Sigma Chi’s new members were “verbally berated” and required to “perform acts of servitude,” “run errands for actives” and “forced food consumption.”

All these incidents occurred among registered organizations, which is why Texas State can issue punishment and formally post these violations.

However, not all frats are created equal. Registered fraternities are those regulated by the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Multi-Cultural Greek Council or the National Panhellenic Council. Across all of them, there are fourteen registered fraternities at Texas State.

Any other fraternity is considered off-campus or unregistered. While this may seem like a technicality, the differences between registered and unregistered frats are significant. Off-campus frats are not under any governing board, so when incidents occur, such as hazing, alcohol misuse or any other form of misconduct, Texas State cannot intervene.

For registered fraternities, if an extreme case of hazing or misconduct occurs, consequences are issued, and there is a years-long process to get back in good standing. Depending on the incident, law enforcement, court fines and university sanctions can be involved. When faced with suspension, a fraternity is prohibited from participating in on-campus events and many fraternities cannot reinstate themselves for years after the incident.

These rules do not apply to unregistered organizations, parties and events. Incidents are made known to the student body through word-of-mouth. This makes it difficult to pinpoint misconduct, leading to under-the-radar incidents that do not come to light until something extreme happens, such as a student death.

Caden Carpenter, president of the IFC, said many negative stigmas around fraternities are born from off-campus frats.

“We don’t take hazing lightly at all and we take action for what we find out fraternities do…that’s a huge difference between us and unaffiliated fraternities, ” Carpenter said. “When you think of the typical negative, toxic aspects of a fraternity, that’s usually stemmed from the off-campus fraternities.”

Despite the punishments and the long process of regaining good standing, some fraternities still find themselves in trouble for their actions, and for unregistered fraternities, it is difficult to even keep track of their actions.

No matter how many rules and guidelines are in place, nothing will change the number of incidents besides a change in the culture, and this can only be done by fraternity leadership.

Mark Budde, president of IFC public relations, said those in leadership positions are looking to do things differently than those in the past, especially before Greek operations were shut down in response to Ellis’s death.

“Creating our own culture is something that’s really important to us,” Budde said. “Especially after [Greek life] shut down, IFC was very segmented and a lot of the values were misaligned… now, we’re trying to come together and make hardworking, motivated men in a way that’s safe.”

For stigmas to change, incoming students must educate themselves on university policies and understand that misconduct is taken seriously at Texas State. Students must also prioritize morals and values over simply having fun. Fraternities are supposed to be about brotherhood, which means protecting, not abusing each other.

There is a stain on the reputation of Texas State’s fraternities, but future students are in charge of removing it.

-Faith Fabian is an English sophomore

The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor in Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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