CHAPEL HILL, NC—Addressing a slew of bear-related incidents in recent years, Chancellor Folt told students on Tuesday they should avoid making eye contact with the Fraternity Grizzly Bear that prowls campus.
“The best thing for students to do is ignore the Fraternity Grizzly Bear,” said Folt, referring to the 6-foot, 8-inch, 700-pound beast that UNC fraternities own collectively. “We’ve trained this university’s administrators to avoid eye contact with the grizzly at all costs, and we’ll be rolling out similar workshops for students soon. In the meantime, looking at the bear will only make matters worse. Just give the bear its own space and pretend it is not even there.”
UNC’s Fraternity Grizzly Bear, a fixture at most parties in Fraternity Court, is popular for its uninhibited drinking and dancing. In the last few months alone, however, UNC’s Department of Public Safety has received numerous reports of the Fraternity Grizzly Bear urinating on vehicles, defacing public property, and even attacking UNC undergraduates.
Many feel unsatisfied by the administration’s response to the recurring episodes on campus.
“The administration should do something to regulate the Fraternity Grizzly Bear,” said sophomore biology major Kathryn Kinney. “If they’re going to allow a bear on campus, it’s their job to make sure it doesn’t compromise student safety. And they should hold the bear and its owners responsible if it does.”
“I mean it’s a fucking bear just walking around campus. It’s hard not to notice,” Kinney added.
For Chancellor Folt, regulating the bear is easier said than done.
“Unfortunately, the bear’s caves are 40 feet off campus and 40 feet outside of our jurisdiction,” said Folt, referring to the damp, beer-stained basements in Fraternity Court where the Fraternity Grizzly sleeps. “So really, when it comes to a bear viciously attacking UNC students, our hands are tied. It’s Chapel Hill Police’s bear to handle.”
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Green confirmed that his force has partnered extensively with UNC’s Department of Public Safety to ensure the well-being of UNC’s students. He says the Fraternity Grizzly Bear, however, presents a difficult challenge.
“The second we have concrete proof that the Fraternity Grizzly Bear is behind these attacks, we’ll go after it,” said Green. “But these incidents could be caused by any large animal in the area. Even if all evidence seems to point toward the Fraternity Grizzly, there’s just no way to be sure.
“And besides, the Fraternity Grizzly Bear’s mama is never far from her cub,” added Chief Green. “She’s a lawyer in Greenwich, Connecticut. Viciously protective.”
Even fraternities are not immune to their bear’s violence. According to one first-year, who preferred to remain nameless, groups of pledges are often left alone with the bear for hours on end. Many pledges leave its caves with scars, both physical and emotional.
Jesse Reynolds, president of UNC’s Interfraternity Council (IFC), claims that these and other allegations against the Fraternity Grizzly Bear are unfounded.
“The fact is, every university has a Greek bear,” said Reynolds. “And a lot of other students at UNC have bears, too. Sure, ours is the biggest, most violent bear. And sure, it might attack students every now and then. But that doesn’t mean administrators need to start regulating fraternity behaviors, or put down the bear altogether.”
When asked to comment on such interventions, the Fraternity Grizzly Bear growled, allowing a mixture of saliva, beer, and chewing tobacco to drip from its lips.
Many have looked toward UNC’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) for further clarification on bear regulations.
“We have clear guidelines on the bear,” said Grant Peterson, director of OFSL. “You are not allowed to have the bear out at parties, the bear is not allowed around pledges, the bear cannot eat students, and the bear is not be touched.”
Peterson had no comment on how well any of these regulations are enforced.
“There’s no way of knowing. You aren’t supposed to look at the bear,” he said.
Chancellor Folt offered one last insight regarding the future of the bear at UNC.
“Until the bear’s family stops donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to this University, we’ll have to learn to live with it,” she said. “So remember, don’t look at the Fraternity Grizzly Bear in the eyes and, if it sees you, play dead.”
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