Showing posts with label Bloomsburg University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bloomsburg University. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bloomsburg University axes all its fraternities and sororities: Do you really want to be a Frat Boy?

A few days ago, Bloomsburg University sent out a campus email message announcing that it will no longer recognize its campus Greek organizations.

The message was short and sweet:

Effective immediately, Bloomsburg University is terminating its fraternity and sorority life and severing ties with all national and local FSL organizations currently affiliated with the University.

Bloomsburg is not the only university to lose patience with its fraternities and sororities. Earlier this year, the University of Miami suspended three fraternities and permanently removed another for allegedly hosting large parties in violation of the University's COVID rules.

But it is fraternity hazing that has frustrated college administrators more than any other issue. Hazing is illegal in all fifty states, but college Greek organizations continue hazing their pledges.  

From time to time, pledges have died from abusive hazing--usually from alcohol poisoning or injuries suffered while inebriated. 

In fact, Justin King, an 18-year-old student at Bloomsburg University, died in 2019 when he fell off a 75-foot embankment after attending a fraternity rush party.  His mother is suing her son's fraternity for recklessly serving him "life-threatening amounts of alcohol." And Bloomsburg University kicked the fraternity off its campus.

So, if you are an undergraduate male at an American university, do you want to join a fraternity? 

Maybe the answer is yes. Perhaps your father and grandfather belonged to a particular fraternity, and you want to carry on the family tradition. Perhaps your friends are joining a fraternity, or you think being a frat boy will help you meet girls.

So go ahead and join a fraternity. But if you do, please heed two pieces of advice:

First, do not participate in hazing, either as a pledge or a fraternity member.  Hazing is a crime in most states, and you could go to jail. And if a pledge dies because you poured grain alcohol down his throat, his family will probably sue you for wrongful death.

Second, don't engage in casual sex at a fraternity party if your sex partner is inebriated.  You may think drunken sex is fun, but universities have been charging male students with sexual misconduct because they had sex with female students who were incapacitated by alcohol.

Of course, not all drunken sex occurs at fraternity parties, but Greek social events often involve excessive drinking followed by casual sexual encounters. You don't want to be kicked out of college because you had sex with an inebriated partner.

I know men who were in fraternities during their college years, and many say they formed valuable lifelong friendships with their fraternity brothers. 

But I also know men who fell into a pattern of alcohol abuse after boozing their way through college with their frat pals. And some of them picked up the nasty habit of using alcohol to prey on vulnerable young women.

If you are thinking of joining a fraternity, I urge you to watch Animal House, that classic 1970s movie about life in a college fraternity.  You may think the film is a lot of laughs, and it is. But in real life, the characters in that movie would go to prison for some of their fraternity antics. And that would not be funny.

Consensual or non-consensual?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Bankruptcy judge denies relief to student debtor who provides 24/7 care for elderly mother: What's the friggin' point?

In 1998, Guy DiFrancesco enrolled in a bachelor's degree program at Luzerne County Community College. He transferred to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and obtained a degree in political science in 2005. Later, DiFrancesco enrolled at East Stroudsburg University, where he earned a master's degree in American politics in 2008.

Continuing his studies, DiFrancesco enrolled in a PhD program at Marywood University, and he began another program at King's College, where he sought a teaching degree. He dropped out of both programs in order to provide around-the-clock care for his mother, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2010.

According to a Pennsylvania bankruptcy court, DiFrancesco's last job was at an auto parts company, which he left in  2009 or 2010.  He financed his college and university studies by taking out student loans. By the time he filed for bankruptcy in 2019, DiFrancesco's accumulated student debt had grown to $200,000, which constituted 99 percent of his total indebtedness.

DiFrancesco attempted to clear all this debt in bankruptcy, but Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Judge Robert Opel II was unsympathetic. In Judge Opel's view, DiFrancesco had not made good faith efforts to repay his loans and thus they were nondischargeable.

It was uncontested, Judge Opel observed, that DiFrancesco had not made a single payment on his student loans. Furthermore, he had not maximized his earning potential. Indeed, according to Judge Opel, DiFrancesco had not sought employment of any kind.

Judge Opel conceded that DiFrancesco's mother's stroke and her need for 24/7 care were beyond DiFrancesco's control. Nevertheless, "his decision to not actively seek any form of employment since 2010 was well within his reasonable control." After all, the judge pointed out, DiFrancesco was "a healthy, forty-year-old man with no disability who holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and credits toward a PhD." Even taking his mother's incapacity into account, Judge Opel wrote, "this fails to establish that [DiFrancesco] could not have found any employment opportunities in the last ten years" (p. 168).

Perhaps Guy DiFrancesco is not the most sympathetic person to seek bankruptcy relief from massive student debt. Nevertheless, Judge Opel acknowledged that DiFrancesco and his mother lived on Social Security benefits totally only $15,000 a year. This paltry sum was the sole source of income to pay food, utilities, and roughly $4,000 a year in property taxes. Clearly, DiFrancesco and his mother lived at or below the poverty level. Is it good public policy to refuse bankruptcy relief to a man who is his mother's full-time caregiver and is too poor even to own a car?

But there is a more basic question that needs to be answered, which is this: What is the friggin' point of hanging $200,000 in debt on a man who hasn't worked since 2010 and is totally responsible for caring for his incapacitated mother?

Will Mr. DiFrancesco ever pay back this debt? No, he will not. Even if he signs up for a long-term, income-based repayment plan and makes token monthly payments on his student loans for 25 years, his debt will grow larger every month due to accumulating interest.


DiFrancesco v. Educational Credit Management Corporation, 607 B.R. 463 (Bankr. M.D. Pa 2019).

East Stroudsburg University: "Where Warriors Belong" (whatever that means)