WFSB looks into Greek Life on CT campuses - WFSB 3 Connecticut

WFSB looks into Greek Life on CT campuses

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Wild parties at fraternities and hazing rituals put students at serious risk, Eyewitness News looked into what universities are doing to keep Greek life safe for students. 

Greek societies were heavily involved in charity work, and often leave legacies of high academic achievement. Fraternities and sororities also serve as a place to make life-long friendships.

"I've gotten so much more than I could ever have expected," said Tim Scalzi, who is a brother at Sigma Nu, which is a fraternity at the University of Hartford.

However, fraternities and sororities have been the center of negative attention in recent years after numerous reports of hazing and assaults nationwide. Just last week, a University of Hartford student was arrested for a hazing-related incident at an underground off-campus fraternity banned from the school. 

"Those situations are very unfortunate, but there's good that comes out of being any Greek organization," said Greg Overend, who is the director of student activities at the University of New Haven.

Overend has worked with Greek life organizations for the past 18 years looking to keep fraternities safe, fun and purposeful. 

At the University of New Haven, officials said they believe the following three things keep their Greek life organizations successful:

  • An active alumni network that keeps tabs on their fraternities or sororities.
  • They prefer chapters that are sponsored by a national organization. A national fraternities and sororities can offer support and guidance to the group.
  • Finally keeping the university involved and aware.

UConn and Connecticut State Police are investigating after a sorority sister from Kappa Kappa Gamma said she was a hazing victim and forced to drink to the point of blacking out.

Sorority sister Hillary Holt spent the night in the hospital. Holt said if she didn't get treatment she worried she might have died. 

"We don't believe that it builds you up," said Zani Imetovski, who is a brother at Sigma Kai at the University of Hartford. "We don't believe that it makes you a better person to be hazed."

Hazing is illegal in Connecticut and universities have rules against the ritual, but hazing incidents still happen across the country.

The UConn incident happened at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house. Last Sunday, the national organization SAE has done away with the pledge process altogether.

The national organization, SAE, was called the "deadliest" fraternity by Bloomberg News -- made the decision in an effort to eliminate risk.

"It's more so to breakdown that barrier between pledge and brother," Scalzi said. "To kind of get rid of that prejudice, and remove the hazing aspect."

Eyewitness News also told you last week about a recently filed lawsuit against a Wesleyan University frat house.

A woman claims she was raped in front of a room full of people at an out of control frat party last May.

Eyewitness News spoke to officials at both UConn and Wesleyan before a student can even join a Greek organization, they must go through a member education process that teaches students what to do if a criminal or ethical situation arises.

At University of New Haven, students have the option to report incidents online and to maintain anonymity.

Greek leaders at the UHart have a chain of command to report to when they witness any suspicious activity and notify other leaders and university staff to assure that any illegal activity is dealt with immediately.

However, many Greek organizations want to shed the bad image and have people see their focus of leaving a legacy on campus.

"We aim to educate future leaders here on campus," Scalzi said.

Students who feel that they have been a target of hazing can contact the National Hazing Prevention by calling 1-888-not-haze or visiting its website.  

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