WVU changes for student, Greek life should go further

An editorial from The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The list of anniversaries that lie in wait always seems to get longer.

Sadly, most of them are tragic, the sort many wish they could remember to forget. Just this past year, another one of that variety was etched in stone.

This week, WVU’s new vice president of Student Life brought up that tragedy at a meeting of the university’s Faculty Senate.

Rather than just reopen old wounds or revive old arguments about WVU’s culture, he also announced new initiatives in response to that event.

On Nov. 14, we will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of an 18-year-old WVU student due to acute ethanol

The circumstances of Nolan Burch’s death are familiar to most of our readers. He lost consciousness during a fraternity’s initiation rite involving alcohol and died two days later.

Though the changes target both Greek and student life this fall and most appear substantive, we cannot help but think they don’t go far enough.

New policies that target WVU’s Greek life include:

* Hosting a Greek leadership retreat after the second week of school.

* Establishing a Greek alumni roundtable to help advise current Greek students.

* Deferring Rush Week (recruitment week) until six weeks into the semester, instead of the traditional third.

Two other measures that will affect all students:

* WVU’s annual FallFest concert, which occurs on the first Monday of the fall semester, will be scheduled later.

* A new policy is being developed by which students will not face university discipline if they seek medical help for themselves or others.

Admittedly, these initiatives are the most concrete since Burch ’s death and are all welcomed.

However, we maintain that any change in culture at WVU has to start with the culture of alcohol there.

Perhaps a medical amnesty for students is a start, but this measure just applies to risky behavior after the fact.

Delaying FallFest and rush week are also good moves but only postpone the inevitable revelry, without addressing
issues about alcohol.

No one here is attempting to mock or belittle WVU’s efforts to turn this situation around.

But these measures seem to pale in the face of what happened just this past school year.

The October riot, arrests, expulsions, the temporary suspension of all Greek life at WVU, Burch’s death and more all indicate major policy changes are vital.

Is there a short list of what will achieve a culture change at WVU —a magic bullet? Probably not.

But unless things really change, Nov. 14 will always just mark a tragedy, not a turning point.

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