Research center aims to further reform Greek system

The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at Penn State provides yet another example of the higher ed community’s push to eliminate hazing, sexual assault and other dangerous behaviors at fraternities and sororities.
By: | Issue: March, 2019
February 21, 2019
greek reformRaising the bar—Florida State now ranks fraternities and sororities on whether the organizations are complying with university code of conduct reforms.

The Greek life research center launched this year by Penn State provides yet another example of the higher ed community’s push to eliminate hazing, sexual assault and other dangerous behaviors at fraternities and sororities.

The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform, named after a sophomore who died in a 2017 hazing incident, will produce a national scorecard on fraternities and sororities. Researchers will also generate ideas for reforms.

“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 statement. “University leaders will now have a dedicated center for the study of best practices and assessment in fraternity and sorority life.”

Penn State will provide $2 million in seed funding for the center, as well as start a $3 million fundraising campaign. The Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research, an advocacy organization, will move to Penn State from Indiana University Bloomington.

Several universities, such as Florida State, have introduced scorecards to publicize the behavior of their own fraternities and sororities. Florida State’s scorecard, implemented in early 2018, allows students and parents to determine whether Florida State’s chapters are in good standing or if they have violated codes of conduct or been suspended. Florida State’s reforms require fraternity and sorority members to maintain a 2.5 GPA and perform at least 10 hours of service work per semester. Chapters must also conduct orientation programs for new pledges.

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,” says Amy Hecht, vice president for student affairs. “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.”


Greek reforms

Greek system reforms at Florida State and Penn State resemble those instituted at other large universities within the past few years. A sampling of new policies:

Cornell University

Florida State’s Greek system scorecard

Penn State

University of Missouri

West Virginia University