A hazing scandal at Salisbury University has put Greek life on college campuses under the microscope. Officials at Salisbury are starting to see other ripple effects.
When the story of former Salisbury student Justin Stuart, who claimed he was brutally hazed in the spring of 2012 while pledging the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity reemerged in a piece by Bloomberg News just before the new year, it caught university officials like Dr. Dane Foust off guard. That’s because the University had already conducted an internal investigation and suspended the fraternity two years ago.
But as Foust, who serves as the University’s vice president of student affairs explains, the resurgence of the story sparked a much bigger response.
“Some folks are saying this is a 'boys will be boys' situation, and others are saying that people should be thrown in jail and the key should be thrown away," Foust says.
Stuart’s claims have sent Maryland legislators scrambling to pass a new law to increase the penalty for hazing in the state, making it a jailable offense and a potential fine of up to $5,000.
In addition, the scandal has prompted the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon to announce it will no longer initiate members by the traditional pledging process.
And while Foust says the University supports the bill in Annapolis and its continuing its zero tolerance policy against hazing, he says the small Greek community on campus feels like they have become guilty by association.
“I do think there are fraternities and sororities on this campus who are really concerned with how they look because of this incident and I think they do look at this as an isolated incident," Foust says.
Foust says even though the incident happened two years ago, there’s no question it will likely have a lasting impact on the future of Greek life on campuses all across the state, and perhaps the country.