Campus Greeks / PSH-Highmark Partnership

The first Greek fraternity began on the campus of the College of William and Mary in 1775.  Since then, social fraternities and sororities offered support and camaraderie for college students across the country.  The 1978 comedy Animal House portrayed Greek organizations as out-of-control party houses that create chaos for campuses and communities.

While this depiction was greatly exaggerated, incidents of hazing, underage and binge drinking and sexual assault have caused many to question the value of having these organizations on campus.  “All social fraternities — alongside the sycophantic sorority life that they exploit — must go,” writes Lisa Wade, an associate professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.

Advocates of the Greek system point to the family-like atmosphere that is cultivated, helping young adults acclimate to life away from home, community and philanthropic efforts and academic support as benefits of Greek life.  The bonds can be important for both business and social networking after college.

The death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza in February exposed the worst behavior of campus Greeks: unrestrained hazing, excessive alcohol abuse, neglect and complicity by the members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.  A grand jury report issued on Friday referred to PSU’s “shocking apathy” regarding allegations of hazing and drinking.  The report says university officials “were aware of the excessive and dangerous alcohol abuse indulged by fraternities, such that it was only a matter of time before a death would occur during a hazing event.”

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we’ll talk with Lisa Wade about her concerns with the Greek systems and we’ll speak with Millersville University‘s Brian Hazlett, Vice-President of Student Affairs and Kyle Miller, Coordinator of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership about the benefits of Greek organizations and campus efforts to mitigate risk.

Also, the Penn State Health / Highmark partnership was made official on Monday as the two healthcare giants expand their services into Central Pennsylvania.  The partnership will create a vertically integrated healthcare delivery system to the region that will include a $1 billion investment in a comprehensive network.  The alliance also elevates the rivalry between Highmark and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Pinnacle for Central PA market share.

Highmark president Deborah Rice-Johnson feels this will be beneficial for consumers in the form of more affordable and accessible healthcare, saying “This is about creating value in a unique way.  We’re going to take advantage of information to build better care models.”

However some studies show that mergers and alliances can drive up costs.  WITF’s Transforming Health reporter, Brett Sholtis, joins Smart Talk to discuss the nuances of the PSH/Highmark partnership.