Those rumors – that Alexander is actively searching for a new job running a different university than the one he’s currently president of – have been circulating for several weeks. They’ve taken several forms, but since around Thanksgiving one iteration or another has seeped into message boards, e-mails circulating around and social media, not to mention water cooler talk in Baton Rouge.
There has been nothing particularly definite to any of it, but the rumors all circulate around the premise that Alexander has connections at another university whose job is coming open at the end of the academic year and he’s looking to take it. Those rumors rest on something which most LSU observers take as a certainty; namely that Alexander would have been gone from LSU in January of 2017 had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, because he’d been angling for a position as a high-level bureaucrat in the Department of Education for years at that point.
Of course Hillary lost, and Alexander has stayed at LSU.
I never gave any particular credence to the current round of rumors about Alexander, other than to acknowledge that it was certainly possible he would leave. Alexander isn’t particularly at home in Louisiana, having never lived here prior to getting his current job, and he hasn’t been particularly successful here if one defines his non-stop efforts at buffaloing legislators into expending more dollars from the state general fund as his primary metric of success. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that Alexander has exhausted his credibility with the leges at this point; he’s picked up the nickname of “Chicken Little” from some of them thanks to the never-ending threats of doom should LSU’s budget goals not be reached. And it’s not like Alexander is particularly popular with the supporters and alumni; at some point he’s got to figure the act is wearing a bit thin and it’s time to move on. But I haven’t found much I could point to that would indicate that time is now.
But this morning, I think I’ve found a foundation I can rest a belief in those rumors on. What Alexander did today looks a whole lot like positioning himself for a move to a university a lot more in line with his progressive ideology and politically correct bent than LSU is.
Because today Alexander issued his edict following the recommendations of the LSU task force charged with finding ways to curb hazing and binge drinking among Greek organizations on campus, and it’s more or less a declaration of war on the Greek system – and the alumni and donors are going to run this guy off that campus for it.
LSU President F. King Alexander is accepting the recommendations a task force put forth last week to curb hazing and binge drinking at fraternities and sororities—and says he’s going a step further to deliver harsher, swifter penalties for Greek organizations violating university policies.
In a letter released this morning, Alexander says any student or organization found to be responsible for hazing will be expelled from the university. He’s also endorsing a task force recommendation to ban common-source alcohol and hard liquor at Greek functions as well as the implementation of an amnesty policy to encourage students to report dangerous behaviors.
LSU released Alexander’s action plan and response to the task force following his appearance this morning on WAFB-TV. Implementation of the action plan and the task force’s 28 recommendations—across six areas—ranges from immediate to the fall of 2018.
“Hazing is hazing, and we’re going to have a strict policy with serious repercussions that involve anything around hazing that we deem to have any mental or physical harm to any student,” King said on WAFB this morning. “That’s going to be in addition to the 28 recommendations that are on the website.”
Additionally, Greek houses and chapters must provide access rights to the university if they want to have social events. Access permits university officials to spot-check parties and other events to ensure policies are being followed.
“In short, university officials will have the right to spot-check parties and other events to ensure policies are being enforced,” reads King’s letter. “If evidence of dangerous behavior is present, the chapter will be placed on immediate suspension and, depending on the severity of the transgressions identified, face possible removal from campus.”
Put in terms Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers will readily understand, every fraternity and sorority on LSU’s campus just got put on double secret probation. Every time a Greek organization has a party or a mixer there will be a university narc on hand to see if there is drinking or something else – like for example if the pledges have to serve the actives in any way – and if said narc writes them up, that fraternity or sorority could be gone from campus.
So that’s the end of fraternity and sorority parties. All of those will be off campus and unofficial from now on, outside of maybe one or two a semester just to keep up appearances that will be (1) lame, and (2) over early so everybody can go to the afterparty which is where the real fun will happen.
This is all a result of the idiocy the Phi Delta Thetas were guilty of back in the fall, when they killed a pledge named Max Gruver by making him drink Bacardi 151 (or perhaps it was Everclear; it doesn’t really matter) until he passed out. It turned out that Gruver had a scandalous amount of cannabis in his system at the time, which is a fatal problem; when you drink to wretched excess, your body will induce you to vomit copious amounts of it as a means of keeping you alive, but one effect of marijuana is to repress the reflex to vomit and so that alcohol gets absorbed into your system.
Old-school folks who know something about fraternity hazing will tell you that you absolutely never use alcohol as a means of hazing pledges – you use it as a reward for getting through a round of hazing instead. Do 100 pushups, and you get a beer to celebrate the accomplishment; that sort of thing. Otherwise it’s exceptionally stupid, really unsafe, promotes alcoholism and makes for a whole chapter full of drunken morons. And as we all know, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
The problem is that LSU’s absolutist, zero-tolerance policy on hazing means the entire conduct of fraternity and sorority pledgeship goes underground. They’re not going to stop hazing, for two reasons. The stupid reason is that everybody who’s an active member of those fraternities and sororities was hazed to some extent, by the dumb definition university administrators attach to the word, and they’re going to insist that the new kids have to go through the same stuff they did. But the smart reason is there has to be some means by which a pledge to an organization such as a fraternity or sorority earns his or her way into that organization beyond just hanging around waiting to be initiated, or else membership in that organization doesn’t mean anything and there isn’t much of an emotional attachment to it. Pledge brothers and sisters need war stories to tell, because those are the things which bond them together.
But that doesn’t work with the current generation of university administrators, which certainly includes Alexander, because progressive ideology is a lot more important in their eyes than the preservation of the good things about traditional “civil society” institutions like fraternities. They see the Greeks as impediments to their control of a university, and retrograde, patriarchical, white-supremacist institutions at that. So there’s a never-ending attempt to reduce or destroy the Greek houses when the progressives get full control of a campus, and when you have idiots like the Phi Delts at LSU killing a pledge you have a crisis. And you never want to let a crisis go to waste, as Rahm Emanuel said.
The upshot here is the Phi Delts gave Alexander the rope he needed to hang the whole Greek system, and that’s what he’s doing. But the donors and most active alumni at LSU tend to be disproportionately Greek, and they were already griping about the task force’s recommendations being too stringent. Alexander has gone off the deep end in declaring war on the Greeks at LSU, and it’s going to make him even more hated by the money people on campus. They’ll probably start pushing to get rid of him.
And he knows this. Trust me, he’s not a particular man of principle. He’s not going to sacrifice his job at LSU for it. Not unless he’s got an exit plan.
This is about burnishing his credentials for a more left-wing university than LSU. And that’s where he’s going next, as in when this academic year ends. I didn’t think it was imminent before, but I do now.