Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Phi Omega Phi needs to be disbanded

Yet again, Phi Omega Phi’s (Poobah) actions have been called to attention by the eyes of the entire school. Year after year this group of students proves they don’t know how to respect everyone on campus — especially women.

There comes a point when a campus-wide apology letter no longer offers enough reparation to rectify the damage done.

During Poobah’s rush event, the members played a slideshow showing nude pictures of girls on campus. The Poobah’s official statement swore the pictures they displayed were consensually taken, and the participants  were aware of what they would be used for.

While this portion of the letter could be truthful, and consent is obviously a major object of question regarding this incident, consent doesn’t make their display any less degrading, derogatory, sexist or wrong.

Three major aspects of their apology letter stand out as problematic.

First, they begin the letter by stating, “Informal Rush is designed with a goal in mind of attracting a diverse group of upstanding potential new members that represent the values and standards to which we hold ourselves. It is traditionally held in a less formal and casual environment so as to allow PNMs (potential new members) the chance to drop their guard down and connect with active greeks.”

This statement suggests that the Poobahs classify what they did at their rush event as a “casual environment.” In order to try and allow the potential new members (PNM’s) to let their guards down, they decided a display of women’s bodies on campus would be the optimum approach to doing so.

Next, their apology was only directed toward “those students who have brought these complaints to our attention.”

More importantly, Poobah should be apologizing to the women they solicited, the PNM’s they made uncomfortable and the entire school for treating the women on campus as objects of sexual amusement and desire.

Lastly, the fraternity states, “We take full responsibility for our actions and cannot change the past.”

No one can change the past. Instead of stating the obvious, they should try harder to alter their behavior for an unproblematic future.

For any student who has attended Augustana for more than a year, this is not the first time Poobah has faced scrutiny.

When I first got to campus as a freshman in 2018, I remember being warned by older girls to say away from the Poobahs.

I know this is still true for many incoming freshman today.

As of Friday, the Poobah fraternity has officially been suspended, and they will lose their pledge class because of it. The recertification process can take up to eight weeks, but we need to make one thing clear: if they get re-certified, that status does not change the severity of their actions.

Phi Omega Phi has long since lost their right to continue their chapter at Augustana College.

Students have started a petition to remove Poobah from Greek Life. It received over 1,701 signatures as of Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

The description of the petition asks, “Why would Augustana College not disband the POP Fraternity? That is because their alumni are big donors to the school. @Augustana, will you continue to put donors and financial gain ahead of the safety of the student body? Will you finally disband theis group as a form of PREVENTION from this happening?”

Students across campus are completely outraged by the despicable behavior the Poobahs display every year. Administrators and alumni should be, too.

It shouldn’t be up to a small group of PNM’s to expose how active members act behind closed doors, but the school should be thankful they did.

We need more men on campus and in fraternities that can see why exploiting women and subjecting men to that exploitation is wrong.

Most importantly, we do not need another Poobah scandal. We do not need another rape on campus. We do not need to protect rape culture more than our own students. We do not need Poobah.

As long as Poobah remains an active Greek group on campus, we can guarantee all of these things along with a complimentary apology email included.

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Phi Omega Phi needs to be disbanded