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Michigan University suspends social activities amid hazing, sexual assault allegations

The University of Michigan (UM) is the latest to take strict action against fraternities to ensure health and safety of the students. Owing to several incidents related to sexual misconduct, alcohol and drug abuse, and death cases, all social activities and pledging activities have been suspended for all the fraternities. The suspension includes a ban on social events, such as mixers and date parties, initiation activities like lineups and general brotherhood meetings involving alcohol.

The decision was taken in a meeting on Nov. 9, 2017, by the student-run Interfraternity Council (IFC), which is the governing body for the National Interfraternity Conference fraternity chapters at the UM. While the suspension is in effect, social activities and date parties already been paid for will be allowed to take place. However, these events will be required to submit bank statements and plans guaranteeing sober monitors at the events.

The UM suspension comes three days after an indefinite suspension of all activities at its fraternities and sororities by the Florida State University (FSU). The indefinite ban came after the death of a pledge involving alcohol and arrest of a fraternity member charged with cocaine sale and trafficking.

According to Alec Mayhan, executive vice president, IFC, the decision made by the council was a measure taken to address the serious allegations before resuming social events. According to him, social events are a privilege for the students and as a community, they have not earned this privilege this time. He further stated that the IFC needs to maintain a high standard and unfortunately, some students have failed to abide by it. He has ensured that the Council will begin the process of assessing policies and practices and devise a formal plan for future.

Allegations of various kinds

As per the council, allegations involving UM fraternities included claims of sexual misconduct cases, six incidents of hazing, multiple allegations of drugging members in undisclosed fraternity chapters, an unauthorized ‘Champagne and Shackles’ event where dates were handcuffed to one another until two people finished a full bottle of champagne, three specific hazing allegations that put the fraternity members in alleged near-death situations and more than 30 hospital transports for students during weekend of football game and seven during Halloween weekend.

According to the Student Sexual Misconduct Annual Report 2015-June 2016, the University’s Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) received 157 reports of sexual misconduct, out of which more than 80 were related to sexual harassment, 14 to stalking, one case retaliation and 19 classified as others. A day after the suspension, the UM announced that it would actively investigate the misconduct reports.

Road to recovery

Drinking poses enormous health and safety risks for teenagers and young adults. The NSDUH highlights that about 7.3 million people (aged 12 to 20) consumed alcohol in the past month, including 1.1 million who reported heavy use and 4.5 million who reported binge alcohol use. Despite a recent decline in its usage, 61 percent of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school and about 23 percent by eighth grade. Repeated use or increased amount of drinking can lead to addiction and many other serious consequences.

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