Greek community looks to move past three fraternity closings in fall

The IFC and university administration emphasize student safety as a top priority.

The Greek community is looking to improve after a fall semester that saw more disciplinary action taken against fraternities than in previous years.

Three fraternities on campus — Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and FarmHouse — had their charters revoked by their respective national organizations. Ten other fraternities and one sorority were found to be responsible by MU for violating the standard code of conduct for student organizations during the fall 2017 semester.

“There is a recognition, both nationally and locally, that we must change certain aspects of Greek culture, including how we combat hazing and alcohol abuse,” said Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau.

McCune said in order to combat such issues, MU works with the national organizations of the fraternities it recognizes on campus. MU disciplinary issues are addressed by the Office of Student Accountability & Support or the Office for Civil Rights & Title IX.

Both MU and the Interfraternity Council are content with national organizations playing a significant role in the disciplinary process.

“[The national organizations] know their houses better than we do,” IFC President Jake Eovaldi said. “We know the students and we know the undergraduates, but as for how they function for the past few years, nationals have a better grasp of that, so we typically agree with the nationals.”

Eovaldi also wants potential new members to know that not all houses are associated with the issues of other fraternities on campus.

“Just because you’re seeing a house get removed from campus for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean that's all the houses on campus,” Eovaldi said. “Every house on campus — or most houses on campus — are pushing for excellence, and there’s a few houses that don't adhere to those standards, and it reflects poorly on the full community.”

IFC’s current focus is on prevention, leaving discipline to the university and the national organizations. IFC hopes to be a proactive resource in the community, said Matthew Oxendale, IFC’s vice president of public relations.

Among these resources is the IFC Peer Educators program, which aims to educate IFC members on important issues. Oxendale said IFC hopes that by having students lead discussions about issues such as sexual assault and binge drinking, dialogue will open up.

MU created the Fraternity & Sorority Advisory Board to implement changes suggested in a report by Dyad Strategies about the Greek system.

“Vice Chancellor Gary Ward, as the interim vice chancellor of student affairs, he’s made it his goal, as well as the dean of students, Dr. [Jeff Zeilenga], to make Greek life at Mizzou safe, but one of the best and more prosperous Greek communities in the nation,” Eovaldi said. “So they brought in that Dyad report, and now we have this fraternity-sorority advisory council which is taking the recommendations and tailoring them down to what will work on Mizzou’s campus.”

Eovaldi chairs one of the five workgroups on the board.

IFC representatives and McCune emphasized student safety as the primary goal of the advisory board.

“We share a mutual goal of making the University of Missouri fraternity and sorority system the best in the country,” McCune said. “The safety of our students is our top priority, and we must ensure we are doing everything in our power to support their safety, social and emotional development, and academic success.”

McCune said there are currently no investigations of fraternities underway. The disciplinary report on fraternity conduct for this semester will not be available until the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

“Fraternities and sororities are a tremendous asset to Mizzou,” McCune said. “These young men and women contribute countless volunteer hours, support each other and, as alumni, maintain active relationships with the university. Mizzou’s Greek roots go back nearly 150 years, and our university’s leaders are determined to strengthen this system so that fraternities and sororities will thrive here for another 150 years.”

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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