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City Watch

CityWatch: Frat boys will be boys — as long as we accept it

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LC house

Lambda Chi Alpha's South Carolina chapter was hit with a four-year suspension over allegations of hazing. File/Adam Benson/Staff

“The men do not reflect the mission and values of the Interfraternity Council.” — Statement by University of South Carolina Interfraternity Council on the verbal harassment of WACH-FOX reporter Brittany Breeding at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity on March 11

First things first: These were not “men.”  

Indeed, to call them that is to assign a level of maturity they clearly have not reached. These were boys, very adolescent ones at that.  Nineteen going on nine, if you will.  

And I say that with apologies to most nine-year-olds, who know how to behave better than the buffoons — er, brothers — of Lambda Chi Alpha. 

Here’s how The Post and Courier reported the incident: 

“Brittany Breeding was preparing a segment for WACH-TV’s 5 p.m. broadcast on [Nov. 11], standing in front of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house on the University of South Carolina campus when people inside the house started shouting at her.”

Charming. And it goes downhill from there. The story continued: 

“They told her to ‘Go home’ and then hurled some sexually suggestive expletives, according to a snippet of video that Breeding shared on Twitter.”

And what you can see and hear on that video is apparently just the beginning. As Breeding herself said on a Facebook post, “The entire time I was out there members yelled all sorts of things at me. This clip was the least offensive out of everything they screamed.” 

Throw in the fact that the tough guys were shouting at Breeding from behind closed blinds, and you get a pretty good picture of the boy blunders of Lambda Chi. 

As Dean Wormer of Animal House would say if he were here today, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” And he might add, “Neither is harassing a young woman doing her job, who is also way out of your league, losers.” 

On a more serious note, Breeding was at the Lambda Chi house to report on the USC chapter receiving a four-year suspension after university officials found evidence of hazing.  From the Post and Courier story: 

“USC received three sets of complaints about Lambda Chi Alpha over a six-week period this fall, including two reports of hazing. The chapter was already placed on probation by the university when a final hazing incident led Lambda Chi’s national board of directors to strip the chapter of its privileges until the fall of 2023.” 

As to my own background, no, I was not a frat boy back in the day at N.C. State. My thing was the student newspaper, for which I would become editor and columnist (presaging CityWatch by several decades). 

Frat boys formed the advertising sales staff for the paper, and we got along great. My desire for more revenue to make The Technician bigger and better and their desire to make money off ad commissions were a perfect match. I had those and other frat boy friends, liked and respected them and have nothing against fraternities in general. 

But for me, the idea of aspiring to be paraded, humiliated and initiated in order to be accepted by a social organization just wasn’t a serious proposition. And besides, I already had a brother.

So while fraternities are fine with me, frat boy behavior of the type demonstrated by Lambda Chi Alpha members towards reporter Brittany Breeding certainly is not. In my view, there should be serious consequences for it. 

No, not legal consequences, as the First Amendment applies to dumb guys, too. But it would suit me if USC suspended those clowns for a semester. 

Moreover, I think that would go far toward putting an end to this type of juvenile behavior by supposedly grown men. And, of course, it should apply not only to frat boys but to any USC student who engages in that kind of verbal harassment of anyone who is just doing their job.

This incident presents an opportunity for university President Bob Caslen to send a message and make his mark when it comes to both student discipline and freedom of the press. I hope he’ll take it.  

Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics. Let us know what you think: Email editor@free-times.com.

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