Zane Law- Enterprise Story

Fraternities are a valuable resource for many college men
Story by ZANE LAW

SALT LAKE CITY— College campuses across North America are hosts to hundreds of men’s fraternities. These fraternities are seen by many as misogynistic and cruel, while others view them as places to build character, a resume, and a social network. With over 6,000 chapter houses and millions of Greek members across North America, the benefits outweigh the negative image for the many joining the Greek system.

For generations, fraternities have been linked to the cultivation and development of successful men. Forty three of the United States’ 50 largest companies are run by fraternity men, with 85 percent of all Fortune 500 companies having a fraternity member CEO. According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Greek men also account for all but two United States presidents born since the formation of the first fraternity in 1825, 76 percent of all U.S. Congressmen and U.S. Senators, and all of the Apollo 11 astronauts.

University of Utah’s Interfraternity Council President, James Morrell, explained why he thinks this is far from coincidence. Morrell says Greek life has helped him in three core areas: networking, leadership, and academics. The people he has met through his fraternity, “have served as an invaluable resource in my life, helping me further my career options and improve my academics,” he says. A current member of Beta Theta Pi at the U, Morell says several alumni remain actively involved. Through alumni he has received several job opportunities and plenty of guidance.

Dillon Clark, recruitment chair of Phi Delta Theta and president of the Young Americans for Freedom organization at the U, also praised his relationships with alumni. While Clark has received internship opportunities from active alumni, he credited one event in particular to the help of his older “Phis”. “I would not have been able to bring Ben Shapiro to the U without the help of alumni,” he says. The Ben Shapiro event that Clark hosted in Salt Lake City received significant media attention and hundreds of attendees. With donations from alumni that believed in his efforts, Clark was able to pool together the tens of thousands of dollars needed for the event.

Both Clark’s and Morrell’s achievements are significant in terms of resume-building, but are only a few of the things that they believe their organizations can help people achieve. Both are happy that they have support from their fellow Greeks and feel as though these people and opportunities give them an edge.

Fraternities help to hone interpersonal skills, time management, and team-building techniques, but are expensive and are not financially accessible to many. According to USA Today, the average cost per semester in a fraternity is $605, not including additional costs such as fines for absences, tardies, and other penalties. A national survey taken in 2014 by the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics indicated that fraternity members are more likely to graduate on time, however, potentially saving thousands of dollars on tuition. Staff members at the U’s Fraternity and Sorority Life office even reported that that in 2016, 80 percent of all Greek life students had gone on to graduate, whereas 57 percent of non-Greek students had been able to do the same. Graduating at a faster rate translates to less tuition money spent, therefore negating much, if not all, of the per semester costs.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference also reports slightly higher Greek GPA’s than their non-Greek counterparts. Many fraternities and sororities require a minimum GPA to join and remain an active member, with chapters on the U’s campus requiring anywhere from 2.5 to 3.0. Fraternities even gather alumni donations to fund tutoring and “Chegg” accounts. Chegg is an online resource to help students with homework, rent textbooks, offers tutoring, and helps to identify scholarship and internship opportunities.

While such resources and encouragement are important, others benefit purely from having an organization that keeps them in check. “Our scholarship chairman is really on us about getting our big assignments in on time, constantly reminding us in meeting,” says Elliot Ansari, a third-year member of the Greek system. He and his fraternity brothers feel obligated to perform academically because one of their fraternity’s founding principles is “Sound Learning.”

Although personal development and social network expansion compose a large part of the good arising from Greek organizations, Greek members also participate in community service and philanthropic events. In the academic year of 2013-2014 alone, the North-American Interfraternity Conference reported four million hours of community service contributed by fraternity men. Making blankets for the homeless, writing letters to military personnel, and sorting goods at the local food bank are some of the events that the U’s fraternities and sororities do together, knocking out good deeds and creating fun memories with each other.

In terms of philanthropy, most fraternities “have two events per year and the money raised goes to a charity organization of our choice,” says Elliot Ansari. The University of Utah’s Sigma Chi chapter frequently makes the news, with the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s website praising them for raising $66,806.65 during the 2015/2016 school year.


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Black Lives Matter has taken to the streets of Utah and they’re here to stay

Story and photos by FAYE BARNHURST

SALT LAKE CITY – On Aug. 27 of this year, nearly 400 Utahns gathered on the University of Utah’s campus to protest a speech by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Protesters marched from the Park Building to the Behavioral Sciences Building, shouting phrases such as “Hate speech is not welcome here” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ben Shapiro has got to go.” The protest was organized by Black Lives Matter Utah (BLM), an activist organization that has been making waves in the community and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“We’ve been here for years,” says Black Lives Matter Utah founder Lex Scott, “but we just didn’t have any people or press. But now Utah has discovered that we’re here, so it looks like we’ll actually get some things done.”

After the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012, “#BlackLivesMatter” began to circulate on the internet. The hashtag sparked a national movement that altered the political climate of the nation and made Americans reevaluate race-relations in the United States. Since its inception, Black Lives Matter has utilized social media and direct action to raise awareness of issues facing African-Americans.

The organization has over 40 independent chapters across the country that each focus on their own regional issues. Earlier this year, the FBI categorized Black Lives Matter as a “Black Identity Extremist organization.” Local activist, Lex Scott, who was just named Utah’s “best tireless advocate” by Salt Lake City Weekly, decided to start the Utah chapter after seeing footage of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, being choked to death by a Staten Island police officer. “I saw the video and thought ‘Okay, that’s enough. We’re going to stop this. We’re going to do something,’” says Scott.

In collaboration with Utah Against Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter Utah has held several rallies and protests calling for justice for victims of police brutality, such as Abdullahi “Abdi” Mohamed and Darrien Hunt.

“The necessity for a Black Lives Matter chapter in Utah unveils itself in the mere fact that it garners death threats to families of their organizers for the same sort of work that UAPB has been doing for years without any of the same hostility,” says Jacob Jensen, an organizer for Utah Against Police Brutality. 

Both activist groups have been pressuring local legislators to change police body camera policies. After Salt Lake issued an executive order last month that stipulates a 10-day delay on the release of police body camera footage where an officer injures or kills someone, both groups held a protest and sit-in at the Salt Lake City and Council Building to demand that the footage be released within 24 hours of the incident.  

Along with working to end police brutality, Black Lives Matter Utah also addresses other forms of racism.

“Black Lives Matter is all about inclusivity,” says TK Flory, one of the first BLM activists in Los Angeles. “Thinking about systemic oppression, economic oppression, political oppression, systems that uphold white supremacy – these affect everybody in some way, especially black people.”

One of Black Lives Matter Utah’s biggest successes in combating systemic racism is getting Steve Smith, a former Sandy City Council Member, voted out of office for making racist comments about African-Americans. The group canvassed, created a call bank, and even went on the news to get Smith removed.

The organization is also promoting its fourth annual Black Friday Black Out Boycott, to counter systemic barriers that limit black entrepreneurs. Members of Black Lives Matter will boycott all major Black Friday sales, and instead only shop at black-owned businesses. This action is intended to be a rejection of the economic racism facing black people in the United States.

In addition Black Lives Matter Utah opposes mass incarceration, the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and housing and wage discrimination. They advocate for fair and impartial juries, transparency between police and citizens, and adequate political representation for all marginalized groups of the community.

To encourage students to join and lead the movement, they have recently started working with Students for a Democratic Society, a radically progressive student-activist group on the U’s campus. 

The group already has more than 1,500 members on Facebook and is currently setting up new chapters all over the state to draw in support and gain influence in Utah. 

“Black Lives Matter Utah is important because Utah is only two percent black, which means there is just a tiny percent of black representation here, so there’s not a lot of black leadership here,” says Lex Scott. “Most perceptions of the black community come from the media and television where we are painted as unintelligent, ignorant thugs. If there’s a place that needs a Black Lives Matter chapter, Utah is the place.”

With the goal of bringing attention to the issues facing black people in Utah and pursuing equal rights for all, Black Lives Matter is a growing voice in the community.


Reflection Blog

NYC to SLC: music journalist Charissa Che

Story by Mack Culp,

I got to sit down with Charissa Che this week to find out what a life as a music journalist is like. I met Che only two weeks ago when I picked her up in the rain for an Uber ride. I learned she is also a student at the University of Utah and new to Salt Lake City. Che was equally excited to learn about my journalist aspirations, because she has been writing in New York City for 10 years. Instant best friends.

I’m waiting to meet her at The People’s Coffee downtown Salt Lake City. The air is crisp, even inside, and my approach might not be. But my plan is to ask questions on the cusp, see where the conversation takes us, because that’s what an interview is anyway. Nothing calculated for a new friend.

Che ordered an earl grey tea, and I a second late. I start by asking if I could record on my iPhone for my notes. Che politely agrees.

Che is somewhat unassuming, but that’s what a journalist should be. Blending into the environment she investigates. Pulling it apart for what it is. Asking the question when you least expect.

Culp: Tell me about your work for Salt Lake Magazine.

Che: For Salt Lake Magazine, I’ve written lots of pieces on local bands. They’ve been able to meet with me. It’s mostly been at coffee shops, but with the more major acts who are touring, they can’t meet, so on the phone. I already had some contacts at record labels, so once they found out I was writing for Salt Lake, I started getting emails from them inviting me to shows, interviews. I’ve written for so many magazines. I see these people, and I’m like, I know you. You’re from Columbia, Atlantic Records. Once they hear I write for a different magazine, they’re on top of it.

Culp: I’m curious what it’s like to write for the mobile app/magazine, SOUNDS.

Che: I can write for wherever I am [for] SOUNDS MAGAZINE. I used to write about the New York scene. Once I was here (Salt Lake City) I pitched to my editor, hey theres a lot of cool music coming out of here that I don’t think people give credit for.

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 Lower East Side, NYC. Photo by Charissa Che

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 Lower East Side, NYC. Photo by Charissa Che

Culp: What do you do for SOUNDS Mag?

Che: I just went around, interviewed some local bands, talked about who stopped by, took pictures. It’s a several page spread [called] The Salt Lake Scene report. The magazine itself is interactive, so it’s an app. We had Ellie Goulding a few years ago, Elton John. I did the Ellie Goulding cover story. My most recent one, was a Josh Stone cover story.

It puts all the control in your hands. You have to make the moves. As intimidating as it is. I used to be intimidated setting up interviews, and now it’s just like old hat. It’s kind of up to me, I fashion the story as I want. It makes you prouder as a reporter, once that final project it up, that you knew you were behind every part of it.

Culp: What is the future of working journalists?

Che: Journalism is a lifestyle. It’s not an office job. Not everyone is born with the inherent curiosity to want to investigate things. It will fulfill your need to get questions answered. I don’t know what the future of print is. Lifestyle magazines will always have a niche. You want to have it on your coffee table. I feel like eventually everything is going to be digital and that’s a little scary. I like magazines, I like print. I like things that you can touch, smell, and keep. But, I feel like however it goes there will be a novelty attached to it and we will find a way to like that too.

Occupy Wall Street Gains Momentum

Story By: Katie Andrus

Occupy Wall Street Gains Momentum

            “We are the 99 percent!”

This saying has gained a lot of traction over the past two months as the Occupy Wall Street movements have been expanding out of New York’s financial district in Manhattan and into local cities and neighborhoods across the United States.

Salt Lake City has its own Occupy movement that stands strong with the thousands of other demonstrators across the United States. Even after conflicts with police, eviction from headquarters and treacherous weather the movement is still gathering ground and more followers are joining as each day progresses.

According to the Occupy movement has gained substantial ground for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons being that many people are becoming ever more unsettled with the growing amount of wealth that CEOs and large corporations, also known as the top 1 percent of earners, are acquiring. At the same time families across the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet.

“For me one of the major issues is  (the) growing income inequality in the United States. While the top 1 percent of earners have seen their share of wealth and real income skyrocket over the last 30 years, real wages for the middle class have stagnated, “ said Charles Benard, an avid follower and participant of the Occupy Salt Lake movement.

Frank Wood, a man who grew up in U.S. during the ‘50s and ‘60s, talks about a time in which the U.S. was a model to the rest of the world.  This model “was a meld of our own social programs and capitalism,” suggested Wood.

It is the failure of this American model that calls for people such as Wood to defend the country. “I just can’t go to the grave thinking I haven’t done everything possible to leave this country the way my folks left it to me.”

When looking at the official Occupy Wall Street webpage one can see that Occupy Wall Street is a “people powered” movement that is aimed at “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.”

“The top combined 1 percent of wealth holders in the United States has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. This consolidation of wealth at the top is what is responsible for dropping wages, unemployment and many problems we see in our economy including the ongoing disappearance of the middle class,” said   Jesse Fruthwithe an Occupy Wall Street supporter, who helped organize Occupy SLC.

As the movements have expanded over hundreds of cities, many protesters have been faced with conflict and frustration. Such issues have caused Americans to wonder if this movement will continue until change is made.

Abbie Minkler, a participant in the Occupy movement stated, “We are here until the end.  The American people have had enough. It’s time to take our country back!  It is not just the people in New York who are sick and tired of the 1 percent who are filthy rich and are getting richer off of the poor and middle class here in America and around the world.”