Letter to the Editor: Greek alumni must do more to ‘fix’ fraternities

Northwestern’s institutions are failing students when it comes to improving fraternity culture on campus.

This, sadly, as outrage after outrage has shown, is not news. Those in a position to do something about the problem — the University, the Interfraternity Council, individual chapters and their national organizations — lack the power or will to do anything meaningful. And as Shane McKeon wrote in his series, these institutions benefit from the status quo and thus are incentivized to carry on with business as usual. As long as this remains the case, these institutions will change nothing.

In light of this roadblock, several calls to action have focused on the need for individual men, both inside and outside the Greek system, to combat a culture that permits sexual harassment and assault. The imperative for current students to take action is clear, but these calls leave out one key stakeholder: fraternity alumni.

Many alumni are understandably apathetic, having nothing to gain from the Greek system after graduation other than occasional embarrassment. But we’re still important players, and we not only should be motivated to make fraternity life better but also have a unique power to do so. It is alumni, after all, who bankroll the University and keep chapters afloat with our donations, and it is alumni who lend the fraternal enterprise its air of credibility.

I imagine many alumni are happy to reminisce about the old days and give little thought to the present, but being removed from campus by time or space does not absolve responsibility. Sexual harassment and assault should not be tolerated by anyone, anywhere, and those with the most power to effect change have the greatest mandate to do so.

So I call on alumni to act. Withhold your donations. Raise your voices. Put pressure on your local and national organizations, and stop perpetuating a system that continues to fail its members and broader campus communities. Fraternities can and must do better, and we need to help.

Bobby Pillote
McCormick ’17
Former Daily staffer and IFC fraternity member