Reflecting Our Communities: A University of Michigan Fraternity Ski Trip Gone Wrong

Danielle Martin Staff Writer Trashed hotel rooms. Ripped up carpeting. Holes in walls. Busted furniture. Broken windows. All the result of a University of Michigan Fraternity ski trip gone wrong. This past Martin Luther King weekend six Michigan fraternities and sororities ventured out to Northern Michigan ski resorts. The destructive behavior that ensued has the fraternities facing possible criminal charges and bills amounting to over $50,000 worth of damage. Sigma Alpha Mu, one of the six fraternities, issued a statement: “We are embarrassed and ashamed of the behavior of a few of our chapter members at Treetops Resort over the weekend of January 17-18. This behavior is inconsistent with the values, policies, and practices of this organization. Our chapter accepts full responsibility for this incident and we will be working with the management of the resort to pay for all damages and cleaning costs.” Despite their apologies, every fraternity and sorority that took part in the vandalism has been suspended from their National Panhellenic Council. The recent behavior of these fraternities doesn’t come as a shock to most. Ever since Animal House was released in the 1970s, the media has given Greek life the reputation of rowdy party animals who don’t seem to care about their schoolwork. In more recent times, movies including Neighbors and 22 Jump Street have added to fraternities’ bad rep. While we watch these movies with comical ease, some members of Greek life are yet again disappointed with the way they have been depicted. What the media has neglected to mention are the positive aspects of Greek life. As my brother, Josh Martin, a Latin graduate and current member of a Michigan’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, said, “Fraternities give its members a sense of belonging, a social community that immediately gives you a large core group of friends on campus.” In addition, fraternities provide its members with professional networking post-college, have its own unit of philanthropy, and organize study groups for its members. However, because a movie about a middle-aged couple at war with a raucous group of frat brothers sells better than one about a group of college students pondering over an economics final, members of Greek life must put up with these stereotypes. Another member of Pi Kappa Phi recalled, “I was walking around Ann Arbor with our ski trip T-shirt on, and an old lady stopped me on the street and questioned how I could support such a terrible thing, what kind of family I came from, and why I have no morals or concept of the right thing.” Unfortunately, this woman did not take the time to discern the different fraternities on campus and is unaware that this particular fraternity did not partake in a destructive ski trip. Whether we like it or not, the way in which we present ourselves reflects on our school and its students. For Michigan, all of its Greek life members will have to suffer the bad rep that the ski trip scandal has created for them. As for Latin, teachers always stress to us the importance of behaving in a respectable manner whenever we leave the school to do service, go to other schools for sporting events, etc. With project week right around the corner, it is now more important than ever to conduct ourselves in a way that reflects well not only on ourselves but also on the Latin community as a whole.  ]]>