After a student death, West Virginia University becomes the latest school to suspend all Greek life

In the most recent incident, an 18-year-old student was in critical condition Thursday after collapsing at the Kappa Sigma house. According to NBC News, when emergency personnel arrived, the male student wasn’t breathing and did not have a pulse. NBC reported Friday afternoon that the student had died.

That wasn’t the only incident, though. 

In my experience, members used male peer support to condone physical coercion and debasement, such as our daily servitude and weekly submission to verbal abuse. They projected smug entitlement to such dominance, offering rationalizations that every pledge class must prove itself, and that this hardship would forge lifelong bonds between us. Captive and overwhelmed, we accepted their reasoning and resigned ourselves to humiliating drudgery. Before long, a dynamic akin to Stockholm syndrome inverted some pledges’ resentments, and they voiced eagerness to abuse next year’s pledges.

Such toxic male peer support is often sustained by group secrecy (Dekesredy and Schwartz, 2013). Cooperative silence about prohibited or abusive practices not only shields all actions and participants, it can nurture a morally relativistic groupthink through which other misconduct is similarly rationalized and concealed.