Editorial: Greek incident a chance to set campus precedent

Kappa Sigma won a major victory when William Banis, vice president for student affairs, decided that he would let the fraternity propose its punishment for a February incident that landed one freshman pledge in the hospital. The request is a vote of confidence for the Interfraternity Council, which has been seeking more leeway from the administration to handle Greek disciplinary problems internally.

Administrators will be watching the Kappa Sig process closely to determine whether self-imposed discipline will actually work. If IFC and Kappa Sig act responsibly – by finding a punishment that recognizes the severity of abusing alcohol and breaking university rules – administrators might give students throughout the housing system a shot at resolving disciplinary issues on their own. On the other hand, if Kappa Sig fails to take this process seriously, it could undermine administrators’ faith in self-governance for all students and entrench support for the current system of administration-imposed sanctions.

The idea of self-governance has many advantages over the present disciplinary system. It would help build a sense of community in Northwestern’s housing units and encourage students to take responsibility for their own communities. It also would avoid many of the antagonisms between students and administrators that the current, hierarchical disciplinary system has created. And for Greek students, it would create an ethic of self-discipline that would ultimately make the Greek experience safer for all students.

Hopefully, Kappa Sig and IFC recognize this as a unique chance to set a precedent for more student involvement in the disciplinary process. If they don’t, all students will lose an important opportunity.