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Editorial Roundup: Kansas


Kansas City Star. July 24, 2022.

Editorial: At KU and every other college, it’s time for a serious reckoning with fraternity life

When the national chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity suspended the organization’s University of Kansas chapter indefinitely last week it did just what every Greek letter organization should do with their rule-breaking chapters: Get rid of them.

And if the nationals won’t do it, then universities should kick these fractious social fraternities off their campus, period.

Sigma Chi is the third fraternity to be suspended in 2022 at KU. Phi Gamma Delta and Phi Delta Theta also were suspended for a hazing culture, which we all know is nothing more than excessive bullying and dehumanizing of other students.

In November 2020, KU terminated Pi Kappa Phi until spring of 2026, and in 2018 the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its KU chapter for four years.

Sigma Chi attributed the closure to accountability issues among its members, The Star reported on Wednesday. The university’s campus paper reported that hazing and lying to the national organization were involved.

KU is far from alone when it comes to trouble with fraternities. Last year, an 18-year-old University of Missouri freshman nearly died and suffered severe brain damage after he was pressured to drink an entire bottle of vodka during a fraternity pledging event. MU revoked the fraternity’s charter.

Many of these exclusive student social groups have been the bane of college campuses all across the country for years. Often, fraternity houses are located just off campus property, so schools don’t have direct oversight over them. They do, however, control penalties for student behavior code violations.

While colleges are supposed to be places where young people get to interact with students from all walks of life, fraternities and sororities do the opposite. Many Greek letter organizations traditionally recruit from a narrow band of affluent white students, and in doing so, reinforce race, class and gender stereotypes and perpetuate discrimination.

Black fraternities and sororities, which started as a resistance to their exclusion from other Greek life organizations, are not immune to these same problems of hazing, and they should be held equally accountable.


Several private colleges have banned fraternities altogether, including Middlebury College in Vermont, Bowdoin College in Maine and Swarthmore College, an elite liberal arts school in Pennsylvania.

Fraternities remain a central part of the social culture on many campuses. But after a series of toxic events that have gained national attention, , including student deaths, schools are beginning to seriously reassess support of these organizations.

And some students are objecting to their existence too, claiming they are outdated, exclusionary and discriminatory — resistant to reform and the opposite to an atmosphere of inclusion that today’s students want.

Last year, students started an “Abolish Greek Life,” movement on social media.

Students have called for doing away with these institutions at a number of prominent colleges, including Duke University, Washington University and Vanderbilt University, where two years ago a student joined a fraternity to change it from inside. He concluded that diversity groups, educational initiatives and accountability structures set for the fraternity were, in the end, just “window dressing,” he wrote in the campus newspaper. “The rot goes much deeper, and nothing short of abolition can adequately excise it.”

Colleges and universities have long been reluctant to outright ban fraternity life.

Here’s how a typical Greek crisis looks: A student is hurt or dies at a fraternity house because of hazing, forced binge drinking or sexual assault. The school puts out a no tolerance statement saying student safety is a priority, and the chapter promises to change and establishes a list of reforms.

A few years later, there’s another incident either at the same house or a neighboring one on the same campus, and the cycle continues.

No. That’s not good enough. Zero tolerance has to mean just that, because kids are dying and they have been for years.

The message ought to be one and done. You break the rules, and your fraternity is suspended for at least five years — long enough for the bad lot to matriculate off campus. If after reinstatement the chapter has even one more incident, it should be banished for good, no exceptions. Break the cycle.

Sure, social fraternities offer students some benefits: lifelong friendships, career and professional networking, academic support and leadership development. But when they also offer up a dose of danger that outweighs the positives, they have to go.

Unless universities are willing to impose stiff, unyielding penalties on repeat-offender Greek chapters, they will continue to wreak havoc on college campuses and students will continue to be hurt. That can no longer be tolerated, and it never should have been.

Either fraternities abandon their unacceptably bad and sometimes even criminal behavior, or universities must shut them down.


Lawrence Journal-World. July 20, 2022.

Editorial: Vote ‘No’ on Kansas’ constitutional abortion amendment

Trust me, I’m from the government.

Who would have thought conservatives would rally around that statement, but it appears many are. Conservatives who are urging passage of an amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the Kansas Constitution are asking people to place an extraordinary amount of trust in government.

Pregnant women who have a medical emergency and need to terminate a pregnancy to save their own lives will need to be particularly trusting. That’s because the “Value Them Both” amendment that is on the Aug. 2 statewide ballot removes any right to an abortion, including an abortion needed to save the life of the mother.

Now, supporters of the amendment most certainly will tell you that such abortions can proceed in Kansas, even if this amendment is approved. That is true. They can proceed. As long as there is a state law that says abortions to protect the life of a mother are allowed, such procedures will be legal in Kansas.

On the other hand, if a majority of Kansas legislators decide they don’t think that should be the case, a state law outlawing such abortions also is possible. But, hey, why would anyone pass a law that would require a mother to give birth even if her medical doctor says the birth is likely to kill her?

Government would never do that. Trust us.

If you are a woman who someday may become pregnant, would you like a little more assurance than that?

Such assurances certainly are possible, and you don’t have to believe abortion should be entirely unregulated in order to receive them. This very amendment that is on the Aug. 2 ballot could have been written in a way to guarantee a constitutional right to an abortion if the life of the mother is at risk. But the writers of the amendment intentionally did not do so.

The amendment says “To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”

That sentence describes the opposite of a constitutional right. It describes a process where elected politicians will decide whether and when it shall be legal to have an abortion to save the life of a mother. It doesn’t have to be that way. A simple sentence in this very amendment could have granted a woman such a constitutional right — and the peace of mind that comes with it.

What does it say that the writers of this amendment chose not to do that? Do you think the writers of this amendment would have ever proposed a constitutional amendment that said a man has no constitutional right to defend himself if another man has a gun pointed at him? Would they have been fine turning that decision over to a group of elected politicians to determine whether a man can legally protect himself in that way?

Surely that would never fly. Men aren’t that trusting. Maybe women shouldn’t be.

Women, and men who care for them, can start by voting no on the Value Them Both amendment. If you believe in a broad right to abortion, you have any number of reasons to vote against this amendment.

But, if like many, you have concerns about certain types of abortion procedures, you may still have one reason to vote against this particular amendment and ask supporters to rewrite it. The reason is a simple one: Any amendment that doesn’t give a woman a constitutional right to end a pregnancy to save her own life does a poor job of “valuing them both.”


Topeka Capital-Journal. July 22, 2022.

Editorial: Applaud effort to bring Panasonic to Kansas, but public must know details of future megadeals

There’s lots to like about the recent deal made with Panasonic to build a $4 billion factory for electric vehicle batteries in De Soto.

It will be a boost for our state’s economy. It repurposes a space in long need of an upgrade. It will provide good jobs. These are all good things and we’re glad they are happening.

We’re excited to see what Panasonic can accomplish in the Sunflower State. Electric vehicles are the future. Perhaps this deal can lead to De Soto becoming the next destination for automakers.

But it was also a deal made in the dark away from public eyes and scrutiny. That’s where the potential for mistakes can be made. We’re not Ok with that.

Think about it this way, if Kansas were able to strike a deal with the Chiefs to cross state lines wouldn’t you want to know the terms? Yes, you would. The same goes for any other megaproject like Panasonic.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reports other proposals in the future might not be available to public scrutiny either.

This deal was forged thanks to a major rewrite of the law creating tax incentives, but its language could shield records associated with megaproject deals from the state’s public records law.

The provision in question would shield until 2027 any “proposed agreement” considered by a panel of top lawmakers, dubbed the State Finance Council, which must sign off on any potential incentive agreement.

Bahl reports no lawmaker contacted by The Capital-Journal has said they were aware of the item when voting on the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act in February, making it difficult to determine what the Legislature’s intent was in drafting the clause.

Gov. Kelly said it was likely an error made by the nonpartisan staff who draft legislation and wasn’t spotted. Rep. Sean Tarwater, R-Stilwell, chair of the House Commerce Committee, was unaware of the clause, but added that legislators would revise the law if further review found it could be used to shield documents from the public.

There’s a lot of ambiguity to this clause. Nobody knows what the language means. Nobody knows who added it. Does it exempt details of the Panasonic deal from the public? Does it exempt details from future proposed deals?

We’re not sure, but we’re certainly concerned.

Transparency in government is important. These are our tax dollars, and we have a right to know how they are being handled.

The Kansas Department of Commerce voluntarily provided the details of this agreement this time. Will they share details on the next deal? We might have to wait and find out. This needs to change.

Let’s make it happen, so future deals aren’t made in the dark.