The University of Oregon (UO) has just temporarily suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The suspension comes after a 32-page internal fraternity document was released by the Daily Emerald, UO’s campus newspaper. The document was loaded with homophobic and abusive questions that fraternity members asked to pledges. After this, merely the latest in a series of black eyes for fraternities, we’re left wondering: Are frats worth it?
The full document features a list of potential pledges — the Emerald redacted the individual names of the students — and the questions they were asked. While some of the questions aren’t terribly upsetting — ones like, “Do you think you’re cool because you’re a DJ?” — there’s a lot of homophobia. Questions like, “What does [redacted]’s dick taste like?” and “Do you fuck 2s every weekend to convince yourself that you’re not gay?”
There are also a number of misogynist and other offensive questions as well. These including “How many schools have you shot up?” and “Can you go one week without doing something utterly retarded?”
UO’s Assistant Dean of Students, Marcus Langford said, “This is something that, quite frankly, I’m troubled by. As an institution, it’s something that is counter to what we believe in.”
All Phi Kappa Psi events and operations have been suspended while the university does an investigation. The national organization released a statement that they’ve partnered with UO to investigate what happened.
The statement says, “The messages contained in the document do not reflect the values of Brotherhood, Respect for the Dignity and Well-Being of Others and Personal Integrity. Nor do they align with expectations of Phi Kappa Psi membership. We will get to the bottom of this.”
But we’re not so sure this doesn’t align with expectations of Phi Kappa Psi membership. After all, this isn’t the first time the UO chapter of Phi Kappa Psi has gotten in trouble.
In 2015, the frat was sanctioned for hazing and probation violations. And it’s not just the UO chapter; in 2015, a former Oregon State University student raped a woman at that school’s Phi Kappa Psi house. Last year, after a stabbing occurred within the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska discovered a culture of hazing, underage drinking and distributing drugs and suspended the group until 2025. In 2017 as well, Texas State University banned all fraternities after a Phi Kappa Psi pledge died.
And honestly, we wonder whether all colleges should follow Texas State’s lead.
Are frats worth it?
It’s not just Phi Kappa Psi; this year, the University of Delaware’s Phi Gamma Delta and Kappa Sigma Xi-Lambda threw a joint party where a man was beaten for being gay. And at Syracuse University, the Theta Tau frat was suspended for “extremely racist” behavior.
Last year, 21 Pi Alpha Nu members at SUNY Plattsburgh were charged for hazing rituals including “urinating and vomiting on pledges.” In 2016, Tufts University shut down four of its frats, after a gay student claimed he was hazed and forced to watch sex acts in the frat house’s basement.
Approximately 40 American university students have died of hazing in the last decade, often from alcohol poisoning. A 2008 study estimates that 73% of university students have witnessed hazing in some form.
Though some people worry that if frats are banned, they’ll go underground where they can’t be regulated, colleges are obviously doing a terrible job regulating them as is.
As far as the question of “Are frats worth it?” is concerned, the answer seems to be a resounding no. The UO Phi Kappa Psi house was where much of National Lampoon’s Animal House was shot and modern frats have used that film as a template of how to behave — and found ways to make frats even worse. It’s time to put all fraternities on double-secret probation.