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Greek life to stay at Purdue for now

Despite incidents in fraternities resulting in death across the country, Greek Life at Purdue plans to operate the same. Two Indiana schools have suspended social events for fraternities.

Posted: Dec 4, 2017 6:35 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Despite incidents in fraternities resulting in death across the country, Greek Life at Purdue plans to operate the same. Two Indiana schools have suspended social events for fraternities.

Campus leaders in the Greek community say they don't think suspensions are the best way to prevent incidents and hazing issues from happening.

If you look around Purdue's campus you'll see empty and boarded-up houses. That's because university leaders say they know there are many flaws in the Greek system.

But they choose to handle incidents case by case rather than terminating an entire community.

"It absolutely is concerning," said Purdue's Inter-Fraternity Council President, Doug Abramowitz.

The deaths of at least four fraternity pledges have fueled widespread changes in Greek Life.

That ripple effect recently made its way to Indiana after both Indiana and Ball State Universities announced they were suspending social events for fraternities.

"If people are going to continue to die and the professionals in the industry and the students and all of the stakeholders aren't going to make drastic changes, then I don't think that it would be unwarranted," said Abramowitz.

Abramowitz recognizes the issues. He says it's easy to point fingers when bad things happen, but he feels it's the Universities that need to be held accountable.

"We have a 500 million dollar kind of revenue-driving group of organizations here that is run by 18 to 22-year-olds and it becomes a question of what kind of support are the universities giving to give those people a fighting chance when there is so much negative culture surrounding it," said Abramowitz.

According to a study by a professor at Franklin College, there has been at least one hazing death in the U.S. every year since 1961.

"A freshman coming to college only wants to fit in and they are willing to do, we've seen, anything to really fit in," said Abramowitz.

As for the future of Greek Life at Purdue, Dean of Students Katie Sermersheim said, "Here at Purdue our students and student leaders are currently doing a really good job of holding one another accountable for behavior."

She says she doesn't see it going away anytime soon.

That's not to say Purdue hasn't had its fair share of issues, but the university has decided to handle things on a case by case basis.

"Some chapters are really strong, some chapters need some assistance and need time to re-evaluate what it is they are striving for," said Sermesheim.

Abramowitz says there have been changes at Purdue, and because he believes in the Greek experience, he hopes leaders at other colleges take the time to re-evaluate as well.

"If change happens, when the pain to stay the same is too much to bear, I guess the pain hasn't reached that point and I think now for sure, if not anytime in the future, it is certainly reaching that point," said Abramowitz.

Abramowitz says he doesn't feel they are in a place to make any major changes right now. However, he realizes anything can happen at any given time, and he will be the first to address issues if they get to an unsafe point.

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