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More Greek Life transparency needed

This past Monday, Oswego State administration denied a Freedom of Information request for documents related to past disciplinary records of Oswego State-affiliated fraternities and sororities, citing the FERPA rights of the members of the organizations as the reasoning for denying the request.

Since FERPA only applies to an individual student’s rights, we appealed the decision, explaining we were not interested in individual names, only the actual charges against the various organizations. We asked the university to reconsider its decision.

We requested the records as a reaction to the veil that has been placed over the Greek Life system at this university. It operates almost entirely in secret. We have been denied access to Greek Council meetings, had interviews refused by high-level Greek Life leaders and FERPA rights similarly cited when asking Student Involvement officials basic questions about the rules governing Greek Life.

It is our opinion that students, whether in Greek Life or not, have a right to this information. Greek Life is a massive part of this university and affects the day-to-day life of every student on this campus. If a student is interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, he or she has a right to be able to access information about how often that organization has been disciplined.

Other universities seem to understand the value in transparency. SUNY Plattsburgh posts the disciplinary records of all fraternities and sororities on its website, easily accessible for anyone seeking the information. If a Plattsburgh fraternity or sorority is constantly facing discipline, that organization will likely lose members, who will see that this organization is not exactly of the utmost standing.

So it was with great disappointment that we heard back from Oswego State administration with our request again denied. When we cited Plattsburgh’s system, administration pointed out that Plattsburgh had created the system that they post online. In other words, it took the information and un-FERPA’d it. Oswego State administration is not required by Freedom of Information law to do this, and apparently does not see value in endeavoring to take on a task as exhaustive as retyping the violations without student names. So it can continue to refuse to release the current information it has.

How could administration abide by such a reckless lack of oversight? They are content to let their students enter in to fraternities and sororities completely blind to the organization’s past transgressions. The current system allows Greek Life, and the judicial system they are governed by, to operate completely void of public oversight.

The system has to change. It makes all other efforts toward Greek Life compliance appear completely hollow. There is absolutely no reason for students not to roll their eyes at the school’s semesterly anti-hazing emails when the school willingly hides all Greek Life violations from the public eye. The school must hold a magnifying glass on fraternities and sororities until all the constant violators wilt away. Until then, Greek Life will continue to be a sour topic among all students not directly involved.

Even if the law doesn’t require the university to compile this data, common sense does.

By Oswegonian Staff ( ) on November 7, 2013.
Email:
Posted in Opinion,Staff Editorial.

48 Responses to More Greek Life transparency needed

  1. Tom

    November 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I was thoroughly disappointed with this article. There are a lot of things that you do not understand about the administration of a university. I am sure the entire readership would like to know what your motives were, what point are your trying to make about student conduct on the campus?

    You write about how every student has the right to this information, actually.. you don’t. You have to consider the ethical principles that Student Affairs officers follow when there are questions like this. Follow the principles that can be found in The Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS), one section focuses on the ethical principles laid out by Kitchener (1985). One of these principles is “Do no harm.” This means that Student Affairs professionals can not allow anything to happen that might have a negative affect on the student whether it be physical, mental or emotional distress. If you have this information (without names) you can easily connect the dots with a police blotters and use this information for malicious intent.

    I guess my real question for you and your staff is; Are you looking into other organizations too? Are you looking into athletics? What about other clubs and organizations on campus? If I were an administrator for the university, I would be very concerned about giving that information out to another student, especially one who works for the newspaper.

    Greek Life does have a large influence over the university, as a alum and a former Greek, I understand that. However, I would have go to an administrator and ask for the personal information about my peers.

    You mention Plattsburgh’s policy. FERPA can be waived if the student or a parent/guardian approves that information to be made public. SUNY Plattsburgh may have a policy in place to those who are greek in regards to student conduct. In order to become greek, they may have to sign a waiver allowing that information to be printed.

    Above all, the university is probably doing you a favor. You might not have realized this, but this could to be for your safety as well. It is likely the university does not see how this could be beneficial to the learning environment that they are trying to build especially if student wish to protest your findings. Putting names in the paper for those who face legal or student conduct violations could be interpreted purposeful public embarrassment of an organization(s). FERPA also allows students the right not to disclose information to their parent or guardian. Students who have not told their parents about their legal or student conduct meetings are essentially hung out to dry by the newspaper. If you print information like this and student are found innocent, you could face the kind of blowback that you did not anticipate.

    As I said before, I am very disappointed with what the goal of this article was. You are looking at people private information and you are now creating an environment that says “guilty until proven innocent.” The goal of the university newspaper is not to play private detective, your job is to publish articles that can be beneficial to the student body as a whole and to promote awareness of campus and global events. This article provides nothing that would be beneficial; not to you, not to the university, and not to Greek Life.

  2. Katherine

    November 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    What I find laughable, is that the author of this article did not even have the “guts” to put his or her name to it. Calling for such blatant disrespect of student privacy and then hiding underneath the “Anonymous” blanket? Typical journalism.

    If you’re going so far as to try to pry into the past transgressions of Greeks, why haven’t you tried to do the same for athletic teams? Clubs? Various other student organizations? No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes; that does not mean the same mistakes are going to be made by future members. As an alumni and a former Greek, I can tell you this from experience. How would you feel if you were a part of something you were proud of, so proud that you could display its letters across your chest, only to have it defamed by some sleazy journalist trying to sell a story? As Tom stated in his incredible response, you have no idea the kind of backlash that you could be dealing with if you exposed everyone’s dirty laundry.

    (By the way, Tom, I have to applaud you. Your response just covers all the bases and I hardly have anything to add!)

    I hope this article gets retracted before more Oswego students read it and become as offended as I am. Greek life gets a bad rep due to people like you, but in reality it brings students of all different backgrounds together like no other. I really came out of my shell after I “went Greek”, and I credit my three years in my organization for helping me to become who I am today: a successful alumni with a salaried job, many connections across the state (and around the world), and some of the best memories that anyone could have. I only wish you could have that experience.

    • Kwame

      November 11, 2013 at 12:07 am

      I HOPE you understand that the point of an Editorial is that it is written on behalf of the entire news organization. That is why it is an editorial and not a normal opinion piece. This is in fact the essence and epitome of journalism at it’s finest. So before you go further in your rant…pause and think clearly , stop typing and make sure that the same spite that you intend to spew is appropriate and accurate.

      • Jon

        November 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

        Kwame, as someone that worked at that very paper, you can’t shill that line with me. The point of the editorial is to express the position of the paper – that much is true; the other aspect of the editorial is to shield the individual, or individuals that wrote the piece.

        In the semester that I was a part of the editorial board, there were at least 5 instances where an editorial was published that I either wholly disagreed with or had no knowledge of. So, I have to play Devil’s Advocate here and state that this “editorial” was more like a smoke screen for an individual or a small group that was working on a story and got blocked harder than Dikembe…

  3. Jess

    November 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Maybe you should write about the multiple meth labs that keep occurring around Oswego high school/ SUNY Oswego campus. Maybe you should write about the homeless people who break into people’s cars because there’s no homeless shelter. Maybe write an article about how young women get taken advantage of and and SUNY Oswego university police does not even have the decency to file a ploice report. Maybe instead of blaming it on this so called “Greek life,” you could focus on bigger issues. But I understand… Because you’re not involved in it you know everything about it. You’re clouded judgement of being a radical “journalist” has clearly gotten in in the way of what it actually means to be a Greek. What about other organizations, such as the Oswegonian, who are invovoled in the same type of behavior? You are writing about something you clearly don’t know anything about. Maybe next time you could write something that is remotely positive towards Greeks rather than choosing the easiest target on campus. Just because less than one percent of people that get arrested from Greek life the whole organization needs to face the consequences? Not once did you mention the ratio of other campuses Greek life compare to Oswego’s. Did you do research? No wonder you’re request got denied. You are a biased writer and this is a disappointment towards SUNY Oswego’s journalism.

  4. Jess

    November 10, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Maybe you should write about the multiple meth labs that keep occurring around Oswego high school/ SUNY Oswego campus. Maybe you should write about the homeless people who break into people’s cars because there’s no homeless shelter. Maybe write an article about how young women get taken advantage of and and SUNY Oswego university police does not even have the decency to file a ploice report. Maybe instead of blaming it on this so called “Greek life,” you could focus on bigger issues. But I understand… Because you’re not involved in it you know everything about it. You’re clouded judgement of being a radical “journalist” has clearly gotten in in the way of what it actually means to be a Greek. What about other organizations, such as the Oswegonian, who are invovoled in the same type of behavior? You are writing about something you clearly don’t know anything about. Maybe next time you could write something that is remotely positive towards Greeks rather than choosing the easiest target on campus. Just because less than one percent of people that get arrested from Greek life the whole organization needs to face the consequences? Not once did you mention the ratio of other campuses Greek life compare to Oswego’s. Did you do reseWait do we have a 212 quiz? arch? No wonder you’re request got denied. You are a biased writer and this is a disappointment towards SUNY Oswego’s journalism.

  5. ecorey

    November 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    I am actually a part of a sorority at Oswego. I can tell you now, you will not get any information. Sorry. What makes a sorority closely knit is this information you are trying to find out. No greek life member wants their information on a public website. Plus the two/three people that got arrested have nothing to do with the entire greek life as a whole. That is crazy. I never got arrested, why should you look into my sorority? I think that the way you approached it was horrible. I think that if you want to look in to greek life, for the “outside world” to know about, prying is not going to make any of us want to give you anything. AND writting this nasty article is digging a deeper whole for you. If you want to get on the good side of greek life there are many ways. YOUR WAY is terrible and you are only looking at it negitively. I think that other campuses not only SUNY schools have the same situations as oswego does. Every college campus has an arrest or two? and some yes, may or may not be in a sorority. this is a very biased article. Check other schools then come back and reevaluate oswego’s. You will find this anywhere. Good luck with other schools and your NASTY approach to finding information to exploit!

  6. Josh

    November 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    First and foremost I want to congratulate the author on making it this far in his/hers career in journalism without learning a thing about journalism. Have you ever taken a media ethics class? Are you fully aware of the purpose of a school newspaper? In the event that you skipped that class, which you clearly did, allow me to enlighten you; your sole job is to enrich the lives of the student body. That’s it. You want to expose some completely inconsequential/fallacious scandal you’ve dreamt up in your head? Great, call the E! Network or the NY post. This article has no business in academia.

    Also, either you didn’t do ANY research or you purposefully omitted what I’m about to say in an attempt to alter the truth to make your super important investigative expedition carry some weight. The reason SUNY Plattsburgh made their Greek life’s past transgressions available to the public is because it needed a bold PR move in the wake of students dying due to hazing in the not too distant past. How do I know this? I called one of my oldest friends, a former administrator of a well known fraternity in Plattsburgh. That’s called a primary source, incase you missed “Intro to investigative journalism,” or “Intro to how to make a story credible.” I don’t even know how this made it past your editor.

    You are trying to create a call to action to a problem that doesn’t exist. Except for with you. What happened, couldn’t get a bid anywhere? Tom is right in the comment above, why aren’t you asking for record of past transgressions of the sports teams? How about non affiliated students who just hang out in large groups? Maybe some of them have been arrested, should every member of the student body have knowledge of their past transgressions??? I think not.

    How about this, I’ll write an op ed in the Oswegonian. It will cover basic journalistic ethics, media ethics, how to write and interesting intro sentence, and and entire section dedicated to citation. This was a very disappointing read.

  7. Jack

    November 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    A well written article. The school should be supplying this information, hiding behind FERPA (which does not cover this particular instance) is petty. And as the Greeks here protest the loudest, know that you are on the right track, Oswegonian. They are only looking to discourage you because they don’t want you finding out the truth. And before people ask, no, I was never a Greek. I didn’t feel the need to pay $400 a semester for friends. But I know people who worked in Judicial Affairs, and a majority of the kids who came through their doors were Greeks. A majority of the worst offenders were Greeks. And the fact that Greek life has worked at every turn to stop any improvement or new regulations to the program speaks volumes about how much they want the status quo to continue.

    As for Darren, you must have missed the Media Summit that just took place on campus, as it has for the past 9 years. No serious journalists graduate from Oswego? You’re quite mistaken.

  8. Scott Whitmore

    November 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

    There are many clubs, organizations and athletic teams on a college campus. Using the logic put forth by your editorial that shouldn’t a student have access to how often the Greek organization has been “disciplined” could also be used for all other organizations that one might join, perhaps even which dormitory had the most disciplinary actions against it. If you single out one organization such as “the Greeks”, what is your basis of comparison of whether that number is good or bad unless you have some data on the disciplinary records of the other organizations. I have long since graduated from Oswego and in full disclosure was a member of a Greek organization. Most college students, whether they were in a Greek organization or not, probably will have some moments that they don’t want their parents to know about and again in full disclosure I did and some were before I was in a fraternity and some after. Can we expect “transparency” from the Oswegonian and see a self published report on the disciplinary actions of their staff due to its purported value to some student thinking about joining the student newspaper? My college fraternity had a number of members that were athletes and members of a club. If such a student had a disciplinary action against them should it be attributed to that they were in a fraternity, on the soccer team, or worked for the student newspaper or should it have been 1/3, 1/3, 1/3? Not all students are saints, nor are all Greek members but singling out that organization only for seeking this information, seems like there may be an underlying bias at play.

    • Victor

      November 11, 2013 at 12:51 am

      Scott,
      While we will agree to disagree, I must say that I applaud you for the way you have constructed your argument. You didn’t start belittling the newspaper staff and instead made your point in a calm manner. I don’t know you at all, but you definitely have my respect.

  9. Rita H

    November 11, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I may share a name with a deceased movie star, but my thoughts on this issue are in the here and now.

    First point: Oswego has produced many fine journalists, as the Media Summit we have every year demonstrates. But, since several commenters here don’t know how journalism works, I’m not surprised that they don’t recognize it when it stares right back at them.

    Second point: Staff Editorials aren’t anonymous: they are articles, endorsed by and emblematic of the thoughts of the Oswegonian staff on a particular issue. One of you goes on about writing a piece teaching us about journalism ethics when, like far too many who post comments on hot-button stories such as this one, you know nothing about how basic things like Staff Editorials work.

    This leads to the crux of my response: Greek Life is a privilege, not a right. Those involved are Oswego State students just like the rest of us. Those Greek organizations should be held responsible for any disciplinary violations they may have committed, and the paper has the right to obtain that information if it is crucial for a story they wish to publish. That’s why we have the Freedom of Information Act in the first place. If you don’t want the disciplinary information about a group to get out, there’s an easy way to avoid that: DON’T BREAK THE RULES. This paper does post disciplinary about other organizations and students all the time. What do you think the police blotter is for? You talk about how Greek Life is such an integral part of the student community? Then stop acting like you’re better than the rest of the community you cherish so much. This paper holds all aspects of the school accountable: that’s why they cherish their independent status.

    If you want to change the perception and dismantle the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding Greek Life, then do something about it. Stop being so damn entitled and expecting those who attend this school along with you to ignore the transgressions that do happen. In my time at Oswego I heard from a number of people some horror stories about both sororities and frats.

    Journalism itself doesn’t destroy reputations. The actions of those we report on are the proverbial noose. The Oswegonian has the First Amendment right to report on wrongdoing committed by the student body. Those letters on the front of your houses aren’t a shield.

    • Jon

      November 11, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Here is the question of the moment – what is it that the paper feels it can find that “word of mouth” has not already delivered?

      When I was attending Oswego, the Internet was just becoming a “thing”. Google and Facebook didn’t exist, and it wasn’t until my junior year that AIM became available. With all the “lack of information” at my fingertips, I still knew which fraternity was involved with which activities down to what was actually in the punchbowls. Within a week of arriving on campus, I knew exactly which fraternities I would never “rush”.

      Has the student body become so inept at basic socialization that the paper would feel inclined to need to do this? Hell, this actually might have been useful two decades ago, but in an age where you not only have the Internet to guide you on anything you can type into Google, but through word of mouth of, in theory, more informed people, what is the reasoning here?

      At the end of the day, the college did itself and the Oswegonian a favor – the lawsuits that would have come from publishing that information would have been crippling to both, as you are not dealing solely with local fraternities and sororities.

  10. Alum

    November 11, 2013 at 12:53 am

    These comments make the hidden greek life data seem scandalous and juicy.

    It’s a shame that The Oswegonian can’t prove that wrong by reporting on the facts (they’re probably boring).

  11. M

    November 11, 2013 at 12:53 am

    I’m really confused as to why Greek organizations on this campus get such a bad rap. We’re college kids and we’re not perfect, and we’re not claiming to be either. We make mistakes, sometimes we party too hard, and sometimes we get caught. Does that make us terrible? Absolutely not.

    I don’t understand why we’re always the targets. Last semester, one of my sorority sisters and I decided to go to the bars on a weekend night. We soon found out that it was “rookie week” for the sports teams. Do you know how we found out? Because there was a girl (we don’t know her name because she couldn’t remember it) who was stumbling down the road alone, who could barely keep herself up. The only thing we managed to get out of her was that she was trying to join a sports team (I won’t name which one), and they forced her to drink alcohol until she started puking. After awhile she couldn’t take it anymore, so she snuck out alone. And no one chased after her. Instead of going to the bars, we sat her down and got her a ride home, and made sure she made it there safely. Why? Because we’re decent human beings, as are all members of greek life. We look out for one another, and everyone else. I don’t think I know of any “GDIs” that would do the same.

    So someone, anyone, please tell me why Greek life has to face constant harassment, bullying, and questioning about drinking and “hazing allegations”, but SUNY Oswego puts sports teams on pedestals and encourages every student to join one (Division 3, who could say no!!!). Why is it that Greek organizations seem to have a giant target on our backs, while the rest of the student organizations slide under the radar?

    Maybe we stick out because we’re so damn proud of who we are (and we should be). Maybe it’s because we wear brightly colored letters all the damn time. You know why we do it? Because we hold ourselves to a standard that is much higher then the rest of campus, contrary to everyone’s beliefs. We have minimum GPAs that we need to maintain, we raise thousands of dollars every year for charity and the Oswego community, we bend over backwards to help our peers (Greek or not), and we work together to overcome obstacles and hardships. Last year, one of the sororities on campus lost a sister to a tragic accident. The entire Greek community rose up and sent our condolences, sent flowers, raised money for her family and in her honor, and attended a candlelight vigil. Did we have to? Absolutely not. But we did it because we are good people, we respect others, and we have compassion and a desire to be a part of something bigger then ourselves.

    Also, we don’t pay $400 a semester for friends. First things first- ain’t no body got time or money for dues like that at a SUNY school. We all go to a public college for a reason, let’s call it how it is. I pay my dues to be a part of something that will last me an entire lifetime. The friendships and bonds that I have made in the last 2 1/2 years will last me until my dying day, I can guarantee it. When I look back at my college years, I won’t just remember some frat parties I went to, or all of the all nighters I pulled. I’ll remember the philanthropy and fundraising I did, the volunteer hours I put in, hanging out with my best friends during our mandated library hours, goofing off before chapter trying to push the president’s buttons for a good laugh, crying to my sisters about some stupid boy, how it felt to wake up one morning and sign my bid, how it felt to get my big sister-one of my future bridesmaids and my best friend. These are the things I’ll remember, and I’ll always have someplace to visit in the wonderful land of Oz. We still have 40-something year old alumni come up to visit once or twice a year, that’s why I joined. I didn’t join to pay for friends because I couldn’t make any on my own- in fact, a majority of my chapter had to like me and be friends with me before I could even get a bid- so good try on that one.

    To everyone out there who hates on the Greeks just like this newspaper does, I am so sorry that you are so ignorant. Please feel free to walk up to any member of Greek life and ask why they joined and what they are a part of- despite the allegations of this terrible article, I can guarantee you that every Greek will tell you.

    Love always,
    An educated, compassionate, responsible, hard-working, respected member of the State University of New York at Oswego’s Greek Community.

    • Alum

      November 11, 2013 at 12:58 am

      “To everyone out there who hates on the Greeks just like this newspaper does, I am so sorry that you are so ignorant. Please feel free to walk up to any member of Greek life and ask why they joined and what they are a part of- despite the allegations of this terrible article, I can guarantee you that every Greek will tell you.”

      1. There are no allegations in the editorial.

      2. You’re calling for the same thing the editorial is calling for: transparency.

      Congratulations, you are actually on the same side as The Oswegonian’s staff.

  12. Rita H

    November 11, 2013 at 12:55 am

    To Alum:

    Oswegonian will gladly report on the facts. But the school won’t let them have said facts, which is the point of the article.

    • Alum

      November 11, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Sorry if my statement wasn’t clear (I realize now it may have been ambiguous); I think it’s a shame that the information is not available.

      I bet Oswego’s greek life is statistically insignificant when it comes to crimes/debauchery.

      But we won’t know that for sure if the information isn’t being published.

      • Rita H

        November 11, 2013 at 1:05 am

        I’m sure of that too. But by acting like this article is “defaming” Greek culture and being so hostile toward any sort of open stream of information may look like guilty conscience to some.

        Transparency is a two way street. It will also bring more attention to the benefits Greek Life brings to the school.

  13. Alum

    November 11, 2013 at 1:04 am

    And for the calls to uncover the dark secrets of the sports teams (particularly the Hockey team): student journalists on this campus have a legitimate deportation threat in that department.

  14. Alum

    November 11, 2013 at 1:12 am

    And just for fun, I’ll throw out this fact:

    The Oswegonian has previously published the criminal activity of one of its own employees.

    It was in the spring of 2008.

    They have already pointed the finger at themselves.

  15. Lou Borrelli

    November 11, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Yes, its really me – how’s that for transparency?

    Before I share some thoughts on the matter being debated, I really appreciate the kind words written here about the Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit. This past week on campus was amazing and Oswego students distinguished themselves as smart, prepared, curious, passionate and professional.

    While I am not taking sides here, I would like to make the following observations:

    1) Editorials are opinion pieces, not articles and may not reflect the opinions of everyone who works at The Oswegonian. See http://www.oswegonian.com/about-us/

    2) Read http://www.oswego.edu/administration/registrar/ferpa.html if you are not fully aware of the FERPA policy here so you can make educated comments

    3) In trying to understand what all the fuss was about, I went back and looked at every article published this semester – the only stories written about Greek organizations were related to fundraising activities, so WTF (What The Fuss)?

    4) Those who demand transparency open themselves up to the same demand.

    5) I fully support healthy debate that limits the body blows below the belt and are more thought provoking and less thought attacking.

    This debate has clearly hit a nerve, deserves more discussion and follow up and can be a real teaching moment for anyone who wants to learn, something I strongly encourage all sides to participate in. I will continue to observe and comment as needed.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I am currently a member of the BOD of the Oswego College Foundation, Inc., the School of Communication, Media and the Arts Alumni Board and this past year’s Reunion Committee. I am also an “official unofficial” advisor and mentor to Oswego Student Media Organizations, more so to WTOP10 and WNYO, less so to the Oswegonian. As a student here I was not a member of a fraternity, I was a member of a sports team and I was a staff member of the Oswegonian and WOCR radio.

  16. James K.

    November 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Okay, I respect this whole article/journalism/proper lawn care/ethics debate going on between everyone. My personal opinion is that the paper has the right to write what they feel is right. If you have an issue with it, join the newspaper and put forward your own feelings.

    That being said, what really grinds my gears in this article is that Greek Life is made out to be some “Illuminati” council where everything is some secret behind the scenes plot to do “Greek” things. Greek Life is composed of students just like you. For example, the article reads:

    “We requested the records as a reaction to the veil that has been placed over the Greek Life system at this university. It operates almost entirely in secret. We have been denied access to Greek Council meetings…”

    Really? Greek Council meetings are not the gatherings of dark wizards plotting to do something evil. Want know the BIG secrets you guys are so curious about? They discuss what fundraising events fellow organizations have for the coming week. Or maybe today is a day where one organization has a presentation in regards to the do’s and do not’s of pledging. Or maybe it’s that one day of the semester where rush week is planned out. So there you have it. The cat’s out of the bag. Honestly if I wasn’t in Greek Life, I could care less what went on at Greek Council meetings. I wasn’t on the hockey team and I wasn’t hounding to find out what they talk about in the locker room. It’s none of my business and honestly, I don’t care because it didn’t affect me as a student. Greek Council meetings govern Greek Life; they aren’t deciding new mascots for the school, they aren’t renaming buildings. No. They are deciding and discussing things that solely affect themselves.

    To further my whole “Illuminati” argument against Greeks:

    “…to operate completely void of public oversight.”

    Again, Greek Life isn’t some secret organization pulling strings. If anything, we have the least amount of privileges on the campus. At other schools there’s Greek Row, or maybe banners with the organizations letters and colors on them, hanging in a public space. But at Oswego, we get some little glass cabinet hidden in a back hallway. So maybe Greek Life is hidden behind a veil, because their minimal representation can be hidden by the mist of a sneeze.

    In closing, report what you will, but remember… at the end of the day, we’re all Oswegoians. Don’t make each other out to be a bad guy. Greeks are just like everyone else and share the same feeling: we all love Oswego (maybe not in the Winter) and if we start holding knives at each others throat and making each other out to look like some shadowy figure in the parking garage, then we lose the overall goal of students in general: to become leaders of this campus and make this one of the best SUNY schools in the state.

    Rant done.

  17. Jake P

    November 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

    As Lou and other commenters have said, an editorial piece is not written under the byline of one writer and are not, as some commenters said, “hiding underneath the “’Anonymous” blanket.’” Other commenters have claimed to be a former staff member of the paper and during his/her time there, had no knowledge of or disagreed with the staff editorial. As The Oswegonian’s website states, the views and opinions may not reflect the opinions of everyone at the paper. This is the same at almost any newspaper. Does one think that the editorials put out by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or another newspaper with millions of subscribers and a massive staff and editorial board have been agreed upon by all its staff members? Of course not and it’s ludicrous to expect so.

    Many are taking this editorial to be slamming Greek life and plotting a witch hunt against all the organizations and its members. This could not be farther from the truth. Greek life is only a foil here to shine the light on school administration. Any organization or sports team could have been used here; Greek life has perhaps the most members of any organization campus-wide, so its inclusion here is both without surprise or without merit.

    To the commenter that said that Plattsburgh only releases such information as a “bold PR move in the wake of students dying due to hazing in the not too distant past,” I am shocked you even implied that such a move be done only as a reaction. So because students died, as your source claims, that’s the reason why such a measure was taken? If an organization, whether it is a sports team, Greek organization or anything else, is responsible for the death of someone, the scrutiny the organization is viewed under should undoubtedly be stronger. So should the school wait until a student dies before making this knowledge available to the public, or should it be made available and the likelihood for potentially tragic events decreasing. As the same commenter said, the “sole job [of a journalist] is to enrich the lives of the student body.” But making it possible for a student that wishes to join a Greek organization, sports team or any other group to make an informed decision and to be aware of past transgressions is not “enriching?” This commenter seems to have mixed up informing and enlightening the public of the goings-on and important issues with writing only positive stories that view each and everyone under only a positive light. There is a reason staff editorials exist and why investigative journalism is such a critical part of the industry. It seems like he should take media ethics class, as he so offered as a snarky suggestion to the editors of the paper who clearly already have.

    To reiterate, this editorial is about school administration refusing to release information that the editorial board of the newspaper feels is important to me made aware to the public. Those who think this piece is bashing Greek life simply need to read it again. No accusations are made anywhere. This editorial could have used any other similar-sized student organization or sports team and the effect would have been similar.

    And to the editors who wrote this piece, you’ve done the work all journalists should strive for. Just has we have to read through the entirety of the writing to find the misspelled word, missing comma or the frequent confusion between “freshman” and “freshmen”, you will undoubtedly read the comments attached the piece you have wrote and see negativity and attacks against your qualifications and character. But 100 percent of everyone I know in the media industry who has read this editorial sees it for the strength of its writing and the strength it took of the writers to write it. Great job.

    • James K.

      November 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

      You say it’s against the administration, but as I keep rereading the editorial, I keep coming across lines like this one:

      “The school must hold a magnifying glass on fraternities and sororities until all the constant violators wilt away. Until then, Greek Life will continue to be a sour topic among all students not directly involved.”

      To say that this article isn’t pointing any fingers at Oswego Greek Life is absurd. The editorial is clearly throwing Greek Life on the chopping block here to make a pointless observation. Yes, this method was necessary for Plattsburgh because their case called for it. But here at Oswego you don’t need to start throwing fellow students under the chopping block.

      Oswego Greek Life having closed meetings and “hiding” whatever veil you think they hide behind is outrageous.

      Although people are kind of angry about the article, I believe the real thing which rustled everyone’s jimmies is that whoever on the newspaper deliberately went to administration asking to release personal information.

      “So it was with great disappointment that we heard back from Oswego State administration with our request again denied.”

      This is journalism, but it’s comparable to TMZ/paparazzi reporting. Find something better to report on which doesn’t involve going out of your way, slandering your fellow students.

      #leavebritanyalone

      • Alum

        November 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

        “This is journalism, but it’s comparable to TMZ/paparazzi reporting. Find something better to report on which doesn’t involve going out of your way, slandering your fellow students.”

        1. Reporting on events and subcommunities within a greater community is of interest to the community, and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the community’s media to report on it for the community.

        Reporting on the actions of greek life could be a great way for greek organizations to share their positive contributions in the Oswego community to the entire Oswego community.

        2. It’s not possible to responsibly report on a situation or subject without going out of one’s way. That’s the idea behind reporting (i.e. uncovering information that isn’t already readily available), and that’s the entire reason journalism exists.

        3. There is no slandering; and increased transparency will ensure a better flow of facts and less reliance on questionable sources, which is generally the source of poor reporting.

  18. Bad Billy Pratt

    November 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

    You people and your comments disgust me. This is about the safety of the students, passion and simple. Fraternities and sororities are dying relics, and completely useless in the real world. Have fun with your “bought” friends.

    • J

      November 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Way to bring intelegent thoughts and ideas to the conversation champ

      • Alum

        November 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        Way to spell intelligent correctly, champ.

        • J

          November 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

          Touché sir,
          dam you dyslexia

          • Alum

            November 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm

            It’s damn, not dam :)

            Sorry to be that guy!

  19. J

    November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    first off an article that demands transparency of any kind should never be published as an anonymous editorial. (see the mixed message your sending) putting that small issue aside i continue to my real problem with this article, for students that are not involved with greek life at suny oswego this article might make perfect sense. However they don’t understand the Greek culture, two of the main components of greek life are secrecy and exclusivity. i know these concepts are absurd in a society revolving around everyone being special and no one being better than anyone else but they are important to the greek experience and are the reasons why greeks do not want your involvement or oversight in their affairs especially when they have nothing to do with you. Honestly who are you to say that you should have oversight over us? your a student just like we are, i never make a fuss about how i should have oversight over your paper. im not a part of it, dont want to be a part of it and you can run it however your members and the school see fit without involving me in any way.

    Your need to know how many times our organizations have been punished by the school and why is POINTLESS AND WRONG. if your going to pledge a fraternity because they don’t get in trouble then you shouldn’t pledge. its about finding a place where you can look around and see yourself calling everyone around you your brother because they really will quickly become closer to you than your actual family if you pledge at the right place, so knowing about past violations is just pointless, you fit in where you fit in and you should judge the organizations on their active members and not on the actions of their alumni. A organization can change ALOT just from a single pledge class (1 semester) let alone over the course of many years. Also the majority of students find out about the reputations of fraternities on their own over the course of the first semester they are at school anyway so why do you need official records? to say that students are blind to what they are going into when they decide to pledge is not only ridiculous and shows you don’t really understand the rush process but also insults the intelligence of the student body. this is a institute of higher learning, if a fraternity getting in trouble is something that concerns you as a freshman during rush than you should be smart enough to ask a brother or sister about it. They would tell you the honest truth, we don’t hide that we get in trouble because it ends up attracting more people than it turns away in most cases.

    Judicial and the school already penalize fraternities more than they should (in my option) they are very strict when it comes to hazing and are very vigilant on that topic. the school also punishes fraternities and sororities for parties at their houses and a bunch of other stuff (it would take forever to name everything) but one of the most common punishments is a loss of a pledge class (or several) with these punishments yes membership tends to diminish but why would you want to increase this loss of membership? the writer(s) of this article are obviously ANTI GREEK and clearly show it with their desire for chapters to close. No fraternity should ever be forced to close, unless they violate the established regulations on becoming a greek organization *cough* AEPI *cough* *cough* but to get back to the point, Fraternities and sororities are a part of the schools history and its future, especially locals(in my opinion haha). there should be no movement to close any of them unless they grossly disregard the schools guide lines for greek life and or state law. (not including drinking, the majority of all students dont follow those)

    also as a quick FYI (since you don’t seem to have much common sense) in case you haven’t noticed with the completion of the new science building and the addition of new majors the school is growing and becoming a bigger and better name every year, (for those with common sense its obvious that…) for this reason the school is also most likely reluctant to disclose any negative information like greek life judicial actions that would cast the school in a bad light. and yet again what business is it of yours to see that we are punished?

    Lastly, the most common infraction made by greek organizations are related to underaged drinking at parties (that they may or may not throw). Although no one likes to talk about it, with school becoming more and more important in our society and students spending more time than ever slaving over homework and other assignments all week that party they may or may not be throwing is more important than ever to help everyone relax and have fun (we’re only young once) and convinces many students to stay at the school or potential students to enroll while also helping to build the social skills many in our generation so commonly lack because of social media, texting, and other technologies. to get back to the point, why do you need to hear all the details of the punishment for (possibly) providing this important service?

    in conclusion if your not involved in an activity don’t claim to have the right to have oversight over it, because frankly you don’t understand what your doing and when it comes to greek life with many students having an anti greek mentality because of our beliefs in secrecy and exclusivity there is even less of a reason for non greek students to have any involvement in any greek affairs that aren’t community service or relaxation related. if your rushing and the amount of trouble a fraternity gets into bothers you just ask a brother. if you wanna pledge just do it somewhere where you fit in and like the guys but also do some research yourself into the organization. Greek life is an amazing once in a lifetime experience that no one should be deterred from (go greek, go local) and those not involved should respect our rights, including our rights to privacy, and our beliefs after all this is A’ merica.

    • Ian

      November 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      This entire comment is incredibly misguided (see the general confusion as to what an editorial is), but the argument that throwing parties is an “important service” is probably my favorite part. Comments like this one that champion a fraternity’s right to throw parties and the fact that “getting in trouble” attracts people do nothing to help the ANTI GREEK perception. As someone who had no direct ties to Greek life at Oswego but had close friends who did, I know better than to think that everyone in a fraternity/sorority can be painted with the same brush, but these comments attacking the writer and just completely missing the point aren’t helping the optics.

  20. Greek Alumni

    November 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Why does this newspaper even care about this information? What difference will it make in your life who in Greek life was arrested? I’m not a college student anymore, I graduated years ago and was in a sorority and guess what I wasn’t arrested, turned out just fine, got my masters and a great job teaching. I am currently teaching my students now about not judging people you don’t know. Maybe you need the same schooling as my high schoolers.

  21. Brian

    November 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell was a Greek advisor for decades.

    • Lou Borrelli

      November 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Yes he was – his calm and counsel would be a welcome addition to this discussion…

  22. BrianH

    November 12, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Some of these comments are ridiculous.

    The bottom line is that the communities that these organizations operate in have a right to know if illegal or menacing activities are being committed by members of these organizations.

    Residents in Oswego have every right to know what sort of bullshit is being brought into the neighborhoods they raise their kids in and retire to after work.

    Students at Oswego State have every right to know what sort of individuals are hosting the parties they are attending and are running the organizations students are interested in joining.

    If your organization is affiliated with criminals or hosting delinquents, and questionable, if not illegal, activities have occurred on your premises, then the community has to know so that they are allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to potentially enter your corridors or be present to, and potentially be involved in, whatever occurs under your roof.

    Instead, there is a cry to protect a privilege only bestowed upon a small proportion of the student body that has no logical reasoning outside of protecting the school’s reputation.

    If you are an adult and you break the law or partake in debauchery that requires police intervention, then your activities will be recorded and potentially reported upon. Welcome to adulthood; your actions have consequences, and your poor decisions may very well destroy your life and the lives of others.

    Moving on to another topic that is surprisingly misunderstood in these comments: reporters cover stories because they believe the community is interested in that information. Reporters find out what an ordinary member of the community can not, and create a public record that holds noteworthy people and organizations accountable for their actions (greek life fits into the organization category).

    Finally, slander is not reporting on a person’s poor decisions; slander is intentionally misrepresenting a person for a particular gain.

    Reporting on a person’s crime is not slander, it’s publishing a fact.

    And yes, I am fully aware that the comments to this post will likely display a miserable lack of critical reading and thinking skills.

  23. Ken Sturtz

    November 12, 2013 at 2:57 am

    You can disagree with the argument made by the paper and you can not like that they want these records, but please understand two things:

    First, while it might not seem like it to everyone, the people who wrote this editorial were sincere. In my years at The Oswegonian and on its E-board we never ran an editorial we didn’t truly believe in.

    Second, in New York we have the Freedom of Information Law. Regardless of whether you feel these records should be public doesn’t really matter. The state’s FOIL law generally presumes access. Simply put, all records or portions of records are available except those that fall within one of the exemptions. The state Committee on Open Government, the state Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals all seem to think these records are public records. If you’re curious, I invite you to visit the Committee’s website (very helpful).

    And to give folks here a sense of what these records are, below is the link to SUNY Plattsburgh’s public records:

    http://www.plattsburgh.edu/studentlife/greeklife/compstats.php

  24. Peter

    November 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Greeks can’t help but feel singled out by this editorial. It’s obvious that the writers have an agenda, using words and phrases such as . “ …..reckless lack of oversight….” “….completely blind….” ….”completely void of public oversight….” …..”completely hollow….” …”….roll their eyes….” ..”….willingly hides….” “…..wilt away….” ….”
    sour topic among all students not directly involved…”

    This kind of hostility to the Greek system is what infuriates so many and likely contributes to the college being rightfully cautious and exhibiting far more level headedness than the editorial board at the Oswegonian.

    So I assume that this is also leading to publishing and tracking “incidents” and GPA’s and such by dorm, or by floor within a dorm and so forth. Or which parking lots or roads on campus more tickets are issued in or on. After all, as a sarcastic person would imply, students “need” this information before making choices. Singling out Greeks is the unmistakeable tone of the editorial and it flat out stinks.

    Far more focus should be put on the many benefits of being associated with Greek life.

    http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/campuslife/examining-the-benefits-of-greek-life

    Lastly, the article implies that Greek Council meetings are some hugely secretive and almost nefarious group. Nonsense. Typically, they discuss fundraising ideas, community service plans, recruitment strategies and mundane things such as planning social events among organizations. They have every right to decide who can participate. I doubt the Oswegonian staff swings opens its doors to the general public when its holding its editorial meetings.

    The comments I’ve read on this page from some non Greeks are hugely disappointing and exhibit an ignorance of what Greek life represents. Please stop with implying that Greeks have any agenda other than to form really close friendships, build leadership skills, make a difference and enjoy their college experience by being part of organizations that have been around for decades.

    • BrianH

      November 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      “I doubt the Oswegonian staff swings opens its doors to the general public when its holding its editorial meetings.”

      Anybody is allowed to participate in The Oswegonian’s staff meetings.

    • Ken Sturtz

      November 12, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      We went through this with several other organizations when I was at the student newspaper. Generally speaking, any organization getting money from the Student Association must open its meetings to the public. That includes The Oswegonian.

      • Peter

        November 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm

        Every sports team and club in some manner receives student funding support. I assume you are going to demand to sit in on meetings that the hockey team has, and so on and so forth. The whole point of the outrage that you are seeing is that Greeks are tired of being singled out.

        • Ken Sturtz

          November 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm

          Peter, I was responding to your comment about The Oswegonian swinging open its doors. And to clarify, the college’s sports teams (the real ones, the others are technically only clubs) don’t receive funding from the Student Association and would likely not be covered under the state’s open meeting law.

          And as far picking on Greek Life, I would direct you to the many positive stories written about local fraternities and sororities by The Oswegonian and some of the less than favorable coverage of others. For example, see below.

          http://www.oswegonian.com/2011/10/13/measuring-%e2%80%98a%e2%80%99-phenomenon/

  25. Glenn

    November 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I read the initial article and subsequent comments and have a hard time determining the purpose of the Oswegonian’s request. Although comprised of students, the Greeks are “private” organizations that receive no funding from the school. They are all self sufficient entities that survive because of their members. In fact, many have been around for over 50 years: Sigma Gamma, Psi Phi, Sig Tau, DKK, ADH, AEX, Phi Lamb. In fact if you go up to Oswego for Alumni weekend you will see generations of Greeks sharing stories with old friends and meeting new ones. Most of the people that come to alumni weekend are Greeks.
    None of the organizations are hiding anything. As far as I know, they are still holding open smokers inviting any student to come meet the brothers or sisters. Come on over. You might actually enjoy it and find out that the members are very nice people. Someone you might need to call 20 or 30 years down the road for a favor and instead of getting an “I’m busy” you get a “sure, what time do you need me”.
    Have some Greek members done some things that they shouldn’t have. Of course, they are college students. That’s part of growing up and developing as a person. However, they’re not the only students who have.
    One of my college jobs was working for one of the coaches in Laker Hall. I can tell you from personal experience that he spent more time on the phone, either with local law enforcement or with professors, trying to keep his players above board. I know we never taxed our fraternity advisor like that.
    I also wrote for the Oswegonian my first two years and I wasn’t the only Greek on the staff. Plus there were fellow Greeks in different leadership positions in the Student Association throughout campus. We had RA’s, we had dining hall managers and we ran a lot of events such as the MDA dance marathon. Now as alumni we are doctors, lawyers, businessmen, policeman, fireman, teachers and public officials.
    I have no idea where the Oswegonian’s requests will eventually end up. However I believe the school has made the right decision by denying their request for this information.

  26. Scott Whitmore

    November 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I haven’t checked the website since I penned my reply on November 11th but since I had checked the boxes to notify me of follow-up email comments, I didn’t think I needed to so to the site administrator, you may want to do some web testing (and yes I do check my junk email). I first became aware of the article when it was posted on Facebook so I am not a regular reader of the Oswegonian though was when I was a student. I went back and reread the article as the Facebook conversation “evolved” (or maybe it was dissolved). I am class of 1977 and was in a fraternity and involved and a member of other student groups as well. Back in my era, you could drink at 18 and the student union even had a bar but times have changed and how people behave and the language we use has had to change too. That goes for Greeks and non-Greeks. Many of the Greeks I knew were involved in college life beyond just their fraternity such as on the athletic teams and/or in student government. I don’t think Greeks had a monopoly on “good people” or on “people who could act like idiots” and I doubt that has changed in the times since. Had the Oswegonian’s opinion said that in the interest of student’s they believe the college should report on the transgressions of any campus organization, team, etc. so they could make an informed decision on joining said group, I would not have responded. I may have still questioned at some level how do you “score” the disciplinary actions (on a per capita basis, severity level such as expulsion, what if the students involved were members of multiple groups on campus, or ???). The article cited Greek’s only (and not merely as an example) which is isolating it to one group when we should pursue whatever the policy is to all groups if the goal is to give students more information regarding the group they are considering. The Greeks or the Chess Club or fill in the blank should not be the only organizations held to such a reporting standard. I am also glad to read the above article posted by Julie and glad to see that the Oswegonian does report on other topics related to Greek life also.

    • BrianH

      November 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      This is a very fair point.

      I think, from reading this editorial, that the greek community is being individually addressed because they are being protected be a policy, and its use in this instance may be questionable.

      It would be interesting to see if The Oswegonian could pester the university’s administration to determine which organizations would be protected by this policy, and to determine if the university is properly using FERPA.

  27. Julie

    November 11, 2013 at 12:05 am

    http://www.oswegonian.com/2013/10/18/tke-raises-money-to-fight-childhood-cancer/

    this one’s dated less than a month ago…someone doesn’t read the paper very often does she? There are four pages worth of results, but I just included the most recent one. Looks like we have another person who doesn’t back up statements with facts. Hey! We all aren’t that much different are we?

    Oddly enough there aren’t long-winded comments on that article…

  28. Alum

    November 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    This is a brilliant and inspiring counterpoint.

    The greek community and/or anti-transparency community must be proud to have you as their unofficial and self-nominated spokesperson of the minute.