Fraternities at the University of South Carolina can avoid a proposed pledging ban if they clean up their acts, USC president Harris Pastides said Friday.
“I would love nothing more than if we got to a point where we had a pact with the organizations that said, ‘Trust us. Let us continue. We heard you. We’re going to have a clean bill of health this year,’ ” Pastides said. “And, maybe, we won’t need to be that radical about pledging.”
USC officials said Wednesday they had talked with national fraternity and sorority leaders about a plan to eliminate pledging, the months-long induction process in which new chapter members often are treated as second-class citizens.
Pastides said Friday he isn’t a “strict proponent” of eliminating pledging, but it should be considered in talks with leaders of Greek organizations.
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The school’s 28th president expressed frustration with fraternities’ repeated misconduct violations.
Eight USC fraternities were hit with sanctions for misconduct violations during the 2015-16 school year, the most since nine were penalized in 2011-12, according to school records. A pledge died from alcohol poisoning last spring.
“Think about it as a parent, for example,” Pastides said. “When a child does something wrong and you tell them not to do it again, ask them not to do it again, they do it again, then, there’s a punishment for it, and they do it again. At some point, you get really worked up over it.”
USC’s plan is a “legitimate, credible proposal,” Pastides said, adding the proposal shouldn’t be seen as a threat.
A USC spokesman Wednesday said ending pledging would steer Greek organizations back to their founding principles.
Pastides said schools across the country are grappling with how to curb abusive behavior in Greek organizations.
“It’s frustrating to see the recidivism, and you’d think that the message was getting through, but possibly not clearly enough.”