Fraternities and sororities are not having a good year. New incidences of disturbing misconduct seem to pop up on a weekly basis. As far as the press is concerned, the image of the fun-loving frat boy popularized by the film Animal House is long gone, as is the Alpha Delta fraternity chapter on which the film was based. Earlier this year, it was suspended indefinitely for branding the flesh of pledges.
Bloomberg News claims that so far this year, “133 fraternity and sorority chapters at 55 U.S. colleges were shut down, suspended, or otherwise punished after alleged offenses including excessive partying, hazing, racism, and sexual assault.” And to help visualize the information, it has created this interactive timeline that breaks down each offense.
Click here to see the entire timeline.
“We thought it’d be interesting to do a deep data dive on all the allegations brought up against organizations this year,” Akane Otani, the chart’s co-creator, told Playboy.com. “The reason there are 133 chapters but just 70 incidents is because some incidents involved multiple chapters being punished.”
While the information is interesting, it’s still hard to decipher what it means. There are 6,136 fraternity chapters across roughly 800 campuses in the United States. This means there’s been a major problem at just over 2 percent of chapters.
It’s also worth noting that if you break down the report further, most of the problems involve alcohol and hazing, as opposed to more sensational offenses (although in all fairness, hazing incidents such as branding human flesh certainly qualify as sensational).
Thirteen chapters were disciplined for sexual misconduct, which comes out to 0.2 percent of all chapters. Discipline involving “offensive behavior,” which I assume includes racism, came out to 0.1 percent. Discipline related to a death occurred four times, which means it’s been an issue for .07 percent of all chapters.
Of course, the year is only half over. So these numbers are sure to rise. But without comparing the data to previous years, or to similar instances among the general college population, it’s hard to determine if there’s a specific problem in the Greek system (as other studies have claimed). That said, this is in interesting place to start.
Jason Mathews is Internetting way too hard. Follow him at @jasonmathews316.