- Publisher’s Note on Associational Rights
- Fraternal Law Archives Now Available On-Line
- Mother Sues Sigma Alpha Epsilon and 20 Individuals Following Son’s Death
- Ninth Circuit Upholds SDSU’s Nondiscrimination Policy
- Trademark and Licensing Case Set For Trial
- Hazing Hotline Enters Fifth Year with 32 Sponsors
- Insurers Won’t Defend Hazing or Alcohol Claims
- To Survive, Fraternities Need to Stand for Something, Anything
Newsletter > September 2011 > "Publisher’s Note on Associational Rights"
Publisher’s Note on Associational Rights
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Lukianoff makes his point in the accompanying article in a harsh and potentially upsetting way. But it has great validity. Those chapters that lose track of the purpose for which their national organization was founded endanger both their own existence and that of the Greek system as we know it.
Fraternities and sororities do great things. They can and do offer enormous benefits to their members. But like most good news, that is too often overlooked.
Fraternities and sororities strengthen their position in attempting to enforce their First Amendment Freedom of Association rights by rededicating themselves to the purposes for which their organizations exists. Those purposes are typically established in governing documents or other core statements.
Sigma Nu, for example, includes in its creed, “to guard with jealous care, not only ancient rights of human freedom … but also the newer rights of social service.” Delta Gamma prides itself on “a strong dedication on personal values and standards, academic excellence, leadership and service.” Alpha Phi Alpha includes in its Visions Statement, “to aide down-trodden humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic and intellectual status.” Similar language can be found among the purpose statements of virtually every national fraternity and sorority.
Fraternities and sororities on a national level encourage a broad range of philanthropic activities. Chapters, to be in the best position to fight for their associational rights, must actively participate in the philanthropic activities supported by the national organizations. Philanthropic efforts by national Greek organizations and their foundations include programs like Sigma Gamma Rho’s dedication to teaching young people the concepts of financial savings and investing. Phi Delta Theta is maintaining a commitment to defeating ALS, which took the life of Lou Gehrig, one of their most famous brothers. Chi Omega supports Make a Wish Foundation. These are but examples. Supporting such philanthropies in a public way aids in demonstrating the expressive nature of fraternities and sororities.
Greek groups can be advocacy organizations. Delta Sigma Theta, for example, has included in their programming for decades the advocacy of voter rights. Chapters of other groups could join with them or the League of Women Voters to conduct a voter registration drive on campus. At a state university, a chapter could advocate with local legislators to support public colleges and universities. Chapters could join with the efforts of the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee to support legislation that will help preserve and improve safety of fraternity and sorority houses.
All of these activities emphasize the fact that Greek organizations are and must be other than the drinking clubs that some media portray them as. Those chapters that deserve such portrayals need to rededicate themselves to and be advocates for the purposes for which their parent organizations were founded.
The long term defense of the single-sex Greek system may well depend on it.