UVM ought to treat FSL differently

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,
In response to the article “University treats FSL community unfairly,” I will limit my focus to saying that if UVM were to treat fraternity and sorority life fairly, there would be no more FSL.

UVM’s Fraternity and Sorority life is a historically problematic emblem of racism at UVM, a breeding ground for hazing and sexual violence and a deadly presence in the UVM community.

UVM’s discontinued racist tradition, the Kake Walk, was an integral part of the FSL experience for 73 years. For that amount of time racism and FSL were one and the same.

No matter how hard we try and separate ourselves from our past, FSL will always represent racism at UVM. As a university that strives to create an open and welcoming environment, especially for students of color, UVM needs to rid itself of these historically racist organizations.

On the issue of hazing, it should be clear that UVM should have a zero-tolerance policy and should act accordingly with all organizations. I agree that the men’s ice hockey team should have received a stronger punishment, but the issue raised was about whether FSL groups were being treated fairly.

The answer to that is yes; FIJI should have been suspended for their acts of hazing regardless of the hockey team’s special treatment. Further, FSL organizations have had a uniquely poor history of hazing violations (three UVM students died from fraternity hazing activities in the ‘90s), meaning that this is a systemic issue requiring further intervention by the University.

But the issues do not end with hazing. There has been countless underage or over drinking incidents involving FSL groups in the recent past. I

In 2011, a UVM fraternity was suspended over a survey given to members including the question, “If you could rape someone, who would it be?”

That question is a symbol of rape culture on college campuses and a prime example of how FSL has played a role in the sexual assault epidemic on many college campuses nationwide.

I have many friends and colleagues in FSL organizations here at UVM, and I can say that the community service they perform is incredible, but that does not excuse the legacy beheld—and still embodied—by some UVM FSL organizations.

That legacy is a mark on the history of UVM. With the continued issues caused by FSL groups, I say that if UVM were to treat FSL fairly, there would be no more FSL.

Ryan Beattie UVM ‘19