Phi Delts put themselves, UA campus in bad spot
Friday September 7, 2001
It was a tragic day last year when the University of Arizona lost one of its bright young men. It is terribly tragic that James T. Haley lost his life at 19 with so many fruitful days ahead of him. And it would be even more tragic if the cause of his death is as stated in the lawsuit filed by his family - negligence on the part of his fraternity.
But that is for the courts to decide.
What is left for us to decide is whether or not we will allow fraternities to continue masking their true intentions behind the guise of a new image. The controversy surrounding Phi Delta Theta is based on the fact that it had gone dry. That's what it told students, the UA community, and that's what it told the parents of James T. Haley. But it didn't go dry, as was unfortunately discovered.
In one sense, the Phi Delt house can be seen as a leader on our campus and in the nation. It dedicated itself to provide alcohol-free housing in the face of tradition and the desire of most fraternity members to drink. Its progressive policies, in many ways, sparked the determination of the Greek system to change its image, as can be seen in the Inter-fraternity Council's decision to continue to limit on-campus parties. In another sense, the Phi Delt house can be viewed as cheats - charlatans not living up to the promises they made.
But as it turns out, it was not the University of Arizona members of Phi Delta Theta that made the decision to go dry. The policy was pushed on them from above, mandated by the national chapter house in Oxford, Ohio. UA's Phi Delts wanted a new house, and the national chapter told them that they couldn't have one unless they went dry.
It wasn't the members of Phi Delt that wanted to go dry, and frankly, they didn't. They deceived the community and they put their own members at risk, including James T. Haley. The Phi Delta Theta house is just one of the 41 houses on our campus. It is just one of the houses that have deceived the UA community. Other houses find clever ways to skirt Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol rules and IFC regulations. They continue to expect privileges not available to other UA students, and they get away with this by creating the image of a healthy member of the community.
For example: houses aren't allowed to have kegs at all, according to the GAMMA rules. However, it is hard to believe that kegs have disappeared from fraternity houses. Are fraternities getting away with having kegs simply because the GAMMA representatives don't inspect private rooms?
The death of James T. Haley was a terrible shock to this community, his family and loved ones. But we can't let this situation simply fade from our memories and go on as if nothing should be changed. The Greek system is trying desperately to change its image, but that's not good enough - it must change its behavior.