I was not in a fraternity at Princeton, and as far as I know, nobody in my extended family has ever been a member of one, either. Greek organizations were starting to reestablish themselves on campus during my undergraduate years, and I wasn’t happy to see them. That said, this policy and the sanctions the committee is recommending (“Tough penalties suggested for frosh-rush ban violators,” Campus Notebook, April 25) seem like a wild overreach that’s going to make a university I love look absurd and abusive.
How does the University plan to justify scrapping basic notions of freedom of association? Let’s consider some of the situations Princeton certainly will encounter, including the penalty — not expulsion, but “suspension.” Until when? Until the offender recants? Will they consider a reduction in the penalty if the offender denounces other fraternity/sorority members? Nothing Orwellian about that, is there? How does the University intend to prove “membership”? Presumably the Greek organizations would not be providing lists of prospective members to the dean’s office. Would it be like a witchcraft trial, where only a confession was considered proof? What about hearsay evidence? Perhaps Princeton should employ informants, seeking out Greek organizations they can join as freshmen (it could be a condition for admission, or maybe a work-study job). I can see it now: “I worked in the kitchen at Wilson College; what did you do?” “I was the mole who helped bring down Sigma Alpha Epsilon.”
These examples are absurd, but the fact that they present real questions is the sad part. The cure definitely appears worse than the disease in this case.