Dean of Students retracts blunt statement about frat member’s death from alcohol

Reporters Michael Tobin and Francisca “Frankie” Benitez in the Emerald here. The paragraph from the original, unsigned statement:

As devastating as this sudden passing is, it is important to point out that this tragedy is connected to an unauthorized tradition among many college students. Students from many institutions have a history of demonstrating poor life choices during visits to Lake Shasta. These activities are contrary to the values of the university and fraternity and sorority organizations.

Around the O has now redacted that paragraph and issued this apology:

Yesterday, the Division of Student Life issued a statement about the passing of one of our students, Dylan Pietrs, who died Saturday at Lake Shasta. The intent was to quickly respond to a tragic situation and provide resources to support the community members affected by Dylan’s passing. That statement should have reflected that our focus was and remains on assisting Dylan’s family and friends as they deal with this news.

We have heard from a number of you and greatly appreciate your perspective that the statement came across as insensitive. As the leader of the Division of Student Life, I offer my apology. While I didn’t know Dylan personally, he was a member of the Duck family and right now we should be focused on responding on the loss of a member of our family.

We have updated our statement and again express our condolences to Dylan’s family and friends. The Division of Student Life remains committed to assisting members of our community in dealing with this tragedy.

Sincerely,

R. Kevin Marbury, Vice President, Student Life

The wording in the first statement shows how seriously Marbury took this student’s death, and that he wanted to use this tragedy as a warning to other students, and to the frats. This is certainly needed. An outright ban might be more effective in the long run, but that is about as likely as banning football, which has its own well documented negative effects on our students:

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/guys-grades-suffer-go-down-when-college-football-teams-win/334055/

We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team’s success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Using survey data, we find that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving.

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/app.20160031

This paper considers the degree to which events that intensify partying increase sexual assault. Estimates are based on panel data from campus and local law enforcement agencies and an identification strategy that exploits plausibly random variation in the timing of Division 1 football games. The estimates indicate that these events increase daily reports of rape with 17–24-year-old victims by 28 percent. The effects are driven largely by 17–24-year-old offenders and by offenders unknown to the victim, but we also find significant effects on incidents involving offenders of other ages and on incidents involving offenders known to the victim.

UO faculty respond to Robin Holmes’s fraternity and sorority report

Diane Dietz has a story on the report that longtime UO VP for Student Life Robin Holmes commissioned from  Mark Koepsell (Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors and Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values) and Jeremiah Schinn (Interim Associate VPSL at Boise State), along with responses from Holmes, here. Unlike Holmes’s Op-Ed on the basketball rape allegations, which was ghost-written by Jennifer Winters and Rita Radostitz under the supervision of Roger Thompson, it seems she gave these answers herself:

Sexual assault is roundly acknowledged to exist in UO fraternities and sororities, but rapes are hushed up to protect the groups’ reputations, the ­report found.

… Fraternity and sorority members can be powerful leaders, Holmes said. “Look at the slate of candidates for our student body election,” she said. “Two-thirds of them are Greek, in fraternity and sorority life. They tend to be our strongest leaders. They tend to be more engaged. They tend to have a very positive impression of their institution, so they often are very strong alums and have really strong affection for the university because they are so engaged,” she said.

The report is here, and here’s the take from some UO faculty that are engaged in the problems:

1. There’s no discussion of halting Fraternity and Sorority Life expansion, despite the acknowledged risks. Instead, their solution is to create more sororities. It would be better to halt all FSL expansion immediately and look for ways to scale back so that we slowly over time get rid of FSL.

2. The report cites student demand for FSL as justification for expansion and for hiring more administrators and spending more money addressing the toxic culture FSL creates. Instead UO should find healthy ways to satisfy the desire for group affiliation, such as housing based on shared academic or civic interests, and replace the advertising that fraternities and sororities give at new student orientation so that students can see that there are alternatives to the party scene at UO. Preventing FSL from marketing itself to new students and prohibiting freshman from rushing would help reduce student demand. 

3. How can the source of the problem provide solutions to it? It’s like expecting the NFL to provide leadership around concussive head injuries. We’ve seen how that works.

4. The report does bring up the link between fraternities, football, drinking, and sexual assault. What are the chances Robin Holmes and UO will follow up?

ASUO threatens to halt Fraternity / Sorority expansion over sexual assaults

Reporter Olivia Decklar has the story in the Emerald, here:

Results of the latest campus Climate Survey, conducted by Jennifer J. Freyd, University of Oregon psychology professor, revealed 100% of Fraternity and Sorority Life-affiliated female students that reported non-consensual sexual contact were violated by male perpetrators.

“Imagine that Greek Life is a red square, taped on the ground, and if you walk into that red square, you are three times as likely to be sexually assaulted,” said Zach Lusby, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon senate seat three. “Why on earth are we making more squares?”

After the results from the Climate Survey were published, FSL conducted an external review, an assessment managed by professionals who are not affiliated with the UO and its FSL, on Oct. 12 and 13. …