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Incident Hurt Reputation of All Frats

A fraternity, as an institution, has no asset as vital or as valuable as its reputation. Reputation is the life and blood of an organization that survives by the goodwill of its local and academic communities, and that must convince potential members that it is of good and upright character. Incidents such as the one at Phi Gamma Delta last weekend serve to undermine the reputations of all fraternities. At the same time, the statements and actions of students and administrators reveal a shamefully poor understanding of the diversity of fraternities. They show beyond a doubt that the reputation of even MIT's dry fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups were damaged by the public furor. If anyone is looking for a crime of which to accuse Fiji, it is that of reflecting badly on fraternities everywhere.

While we all mourn the loss of a promising fellow student, we must not become caught up in the rhetoric of shifting blame. The fraternity system as a whole was not responsible for what happened that night. MIT's fraternities are a diverse group, some social, others anti-social; some wet, others dry; some single-sex, others coed. To think of them as birds of a feather or to talk of the "Greek community" is a mistake. As much as the IFC would like to think otherwise, alcohol risk management is not everybody's problem.

The fate of every MIT fraternity in one way or another hinges upon its reputation. We have edgy neighbors, insurance obligations, health inspectors, freshman parents, and MIT all with the power to make our lives difficult or impossible. Everything that we are depends upon our reputation, and any fraternity which damages that reputation has endangered us all.

What is the solution? Certainly the media, the IFC, and the MIT administration must be taught greater appreciation for the true diversity of our fraternities and that they ought not criticize, impugn, or punish all for the actions of one. But until that is true, fraternities must always act with the certainty that what they do reflects on us all, and that a single drinking binge can bring the world to all of our throats.

Grant F. Gould '99