Letter to the Editor

By adviser Apr 16, 2021
Photo Courtesy of Jordan Prats
Photo Courtesy of Jordan Prats

Slander (verb): to make false and damaging statements about someone. For something to be “slanderous” and therefore considered defamation in a court of law, the statement must meet the following criteria according to Cornell University Legal Information Institute: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact; 2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; 3) fault amounting to at least negligence; and 4) damages, or some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.

The opinions and experiences of others that contradict our own are not slanderous. People sharing their personal victimizations during their time in Greek Life and the decades-old characterizations of particular chapters remind us that violence, both physical and mental, is ever-present. Believing that Greek leadership will “learn from the mistakes of their elders” by continuing to attend performative trainings is not only naïve but it is dangerous. We should not place the burden of education and growth on the shoulders of victims, no matter how heavy our own egos are to carry. 

“We should not place the burden of education and growth on the shoulders of victims, no matter how heavy our own egos are to carry.”

If certain fraternities and sororities on IWU’s campus are hazing-free, why aren’t they spending time and energy helping the other chapters accomplish this standard? This standard being the floor, by the way, rather than the ceiling. Instead of attempting to distance themselves from comments on Facebook through ingenuine sympathy, I would recommend that representatives from these chapters step into leadership roles on campus to actively and transparently dismantle hazing from the inside. 

Speaking of Facebook, I would like to acknowledge the purpose of the Alumni page that is dedicated to preserving liberal arts curricula at IWU. The liberal arts education requires us to examine our positionality in the world and to simultaneously remove ourselves for an objective observation, as well as insert ourselves for a holistic understanding. To me, the purpose of the page is to build a community based on the authentic and honest experiences of alumni who value this practice of examination.  

When we examine the realities of Greek Life across the nation, both from objective and subjective points of view, several themes come forward: values-based community, philanthropy, life-long relationships and unfortunately, several forms of violence. Additionally, when we examine IWU’s history of holding those in power accountable for their actions, we are certainly left disappointed. 

I am not a journalist, nor am I loyal to Illinois Wesleyan the way that it stands today. I am, however, a student affairs educator dedicated to justice for students who have been harmed by members of our campuses, and who experience further harm at the hands of apologetic yet ineffective administrators. As alumni, we should be encouraging one another to do the right thing and speak our truths to power, even if it brings those in power down in the process. 

Thank you for this opportunity.

In solidarity with victims of hazing,

Jordan Prats (she/her) 

IWU Class of ‘17

By adviser

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