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Sunday, May 16, 2021

That didn't take long.

Call us cynical, but we aren't surprised that a fraternity has already messed up just a week into the fall semester. Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity had an unauthorized pre-rush week party. Not only did it break the no-alcohol-at-parties-before-and-during-Rush-Week rule, it also took it a step further: Marijuana and drug paraphernalia were also found in the fraternity's house.

For now they will lose out on a whole rush class and possibly face harsher consequences after the investigation is concluded.

This is certainly not the first time a Greek organization has gotten in trouble for unauthorized partying, and unfortunately, we know it won't be the last. To paraphrase an old adage, frats will be frats. That will never change.

We aren't saying fraternities are bad. They provide support systems, lifelong friendships and international networking opportunities. They maintain, on average, a higher GPA than the overall student body. They raise thousands of dollars for charity every year. Most of the time, we can look past the popped collars and see them as outstanding citizens.

But a few bad apples spoil the bunch. A more proactive approach should be taken to avoid further problems in the Greek community.

It starts at the universitywide level. Maybe UF needs stricter guidelines about drinking at fraternity and sorority houses. The university should be more diligent in making sure every Greek-affiliated event is registered by performing random checks. UF could consider a limit on how much alcohol can be in the house at one time or create a curfew for parties - say, all non-residents and alcohol have to be out by 3 a.m.

The Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils needs to step up to the plate, too. It takes more than just making sure everyone follows the rules. The councils also need to be more proactive in anticipating problems before they happen. They could create stricter rules and hold more educational seminars, not just for new members, but for everyone in the organizations.

They also need to make sure that if the rules are broken, the punishment fits the crime. Rather than recommending weak punishments to UF Judicial Affairs, the councils should endorse harsher punishments - with just cause, of course. If the councils hold their chapters to higher standards, the chapters will get the idea and hold themselves more accountable, which would help keep them from getting into trouble in the first place.

The councils should also strive for more transparency regarding their policies. Web sites full of broken or outdated links just opens up opportunities for exploiting loopholes or claiming ignorance about the rules. The more information the councils make available to the public - the constitution, bylines, regulations, requirements and so on - the more responsible they will have to be.

About 5,000 UF students are Greek. Most of the time, they set positive examples for the Gainesville community. Let's work harder to make sure they are viewed positively all the time. If the Greeks want to break down the stereotypes they have acquired over the years, they must start from within the organizations.

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