Why pressure continues to mount on fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities are facing a new wave of scrutiny—and stricter regulations—as students return campus and settle into the fall semester.
A USA Today report—which found that at least one young man has died in a hazing-related incident each year for the past two decades—concluded that colleges, universities and Greek organizations have been slow to change.
Yet, fraternities and sororities at the University of Iowa have postponed rush week recruiting activities until later in the fall, The Gazette reported. Eleven fraternities are starting the school year on probation while four others were kicked off campus last year, the newspaper says.
“We hope to create a healthier, safer, and better-informed campus community by providing more information and training to students before they commit to joining an organization,” Associate Dean Bill Nelson told The Gazette.
At the University of Maryland, meanwhile, fraternities have been banned from serving hard alcohol, according to The Diamondback, the student newspaper.
The University at Buffalo in August lifted its ban on Greek organizations but enacted stricter oversight in the wake of a student’s death in a suspected hazing incident in April, 2019, WBFO 88.7 reported. First-semester freshmen will likely be banned from joining Greek organizations while all members will have to maintain a 2.5 grade-point average. Each fraternity’s and sorority’s behavior will be tracked on a public scorecard, the station reported.
Earlier this year, The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform opened at Penn State. The center, named after a sophomore who died in a 2017 hazing incident at the university, will research Greek life reforms and produce a national scorecard on fraternities and sororities.
“Universities have been operating in a void and missing critical information, such as a consistent and cumulative nationwide look at Greek life on our campuses,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a March statement.
Several other universities, such as Florida State, have introduced Greek life scorecards. Other reforms at Florida State require fraternity and sorority members to maintain a 2.5 GPA and perform at least 10 hours of service work per semester. Chapter membership dues will fund educational programs and staff who will work with fraternities and sororities.
“We have heard anecdotally from our student leaders that they feel a sense of positive change and that Greek Life is safer on our campus,” Amy Hecht, vice president for student affairs, told UB earlier this year. “However, we aren’t relying on anecdotes as we move forward. We will take a data-driven look at the effectiveness of our reforms as we move ahead.”
At the University of California San Diego, leaders of all student organizations—including fraternities and sororities—must take a class in civil discourse developed in partnership with the National Conflict Resolution Center. The three-hour workshop, “The Art of Inclusive Communication,” covers conflict resolution, active listening, bystander intervention and emotional regulation skills.
“Our society doesn’t always model the kind of respectful dialogue that fosters healthy and inclusive communities,” Emily Marx Trask, executive director of UC San Diego’s Center for Student Involvement, told UB in August. “This gives students the opportunity to reflect on their roles and explore their identities as leaders.”