Education

Lawsuit: Sorority Punished for ‘Hazing’ for Requiring Members to Study 25 Hours per Week

Students study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., September 20, 2018. (Rebecca Cook/REUTERS)
Academic learning is supposed to be the entire purpose of college.

A  predominantly Latina sorority is suing the University of Virginia on the grounds that it was wrongfully punished for hazing.

According to an article in The Daily Progress, Sigma Lambda Upsilon — also known as Senoritas Latinas Unidas — was punished for “hazing” because of a policy that required its members to study 25 hours per week. The sorority was suspended last March and filed the lawsuit in September, but the situation made news only when The Progress reported on it earlier this month.

According to the news source, the sorority got in trouble when one of its recruits went to a professor to complain about the requirement. The professor then contacted the student affairs office and the police. (Yes — the police.) UVa conducted an investigation and found that the forced studying did in fact violate the school’s anti-hazing policy.

The sorority argues that this determination was unfair because other classes and athletic programs on campus require a similar amount of studying, and claims that the school’s ruling amounts to discrimination.

UVa defines “hazing” as any situation that occurs either on campus property or during a campus event “that is designed to or produces mental or physical harassment, discomfort, or ridicule.”

“Such activities and situations include, but are not limited to, creation of excessive physical or psychological shock, fatigue, stress, injury, or harm,” the hazing policy states.

This, to me, is completely ridiculous. When you think of sorority or fraternity hazing, “studying” is definitely not what comes to mind. Instead, it’s stuff like making new members drink copious amounts of alcohol, or get naked and drink copious amounts of alcohol, or be blindfolded and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Can studying create “fatigue”? Yes, sure, but so can literally anything. A mandatory sorority meeting, for example — which is something that many sororities do have — could also make members experience “fatigue.” Should an organization requiring meetings be deemed hazing, too? I think only an insane person would say so.

Is 25 hours per week a lot of studying? I suppose for some people it might be, but I know for a fact that I voluntarily studied that much or even more when I was in college — and that that was a good thing for me. I don’t regret any of the time I spent learning, and if I could go back, I would probably study even more.

Sororities and fraternities often get a bad rap for being nothing more than glorified, booze-soaked party factories. Clearly, this sorority enacted a policy that was intended to set itself apart, to show that its purpose was not to provide just social activities, but also tools for academic success. Seeing as academic learning is supposed to be the entire purpose of college, it’s kind of hard to see how this sorority wound up suspended over demanding that its members do just that.

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