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The last few years have not bode well for college fraternity systems. With many houses in hot water following incidents involving injuries sustained during pledge events, arrests for drinking and indecent behavior and well publicized stunts involving female or animal abuse. Most college administrators are realizing they have quite a challenge on their hands in reforming the Greek system. Acknowledging that the poor conduct of a few houses should not lead to an absolute end of Greek presence on campuses, administrators have decided that Greek systems are in dire need of overhaul. While certain policies limiting the presence of the Greek systems already exist, such as forbidding first year students to pledge in the fall semester, the administrations are recognizing that poorly run systems would bring more than just bad publicity.
2007 and Beyond
Rewritten from multiple internet articles by John Dugan
While a string of unfortunate events have marred the image of Greek systems in recent years, administrations and Greek organizations on campus have long shared unstable relationships. Although campus administrations have the responsibility of ensuring that social events on campus run safely and smoothly, doing so in a manner that suits both sides and benefits the student body is quite difficult. Administrations have a recent history of handing down conflicting punishments for Greek organization infractions. Indeed, the past few years have proven that any time several undesirable events transpire within a short time frame within the Greek system, the administration is prompted to issue harsher punishments. For isolated infractions in times of good standing, however, punishments are comparatively lenient. For instance, Tufts (reportedly a "well known party school") policy dictates that when a given house has a clean record (i.e. no probation, warnings, etc.), the punishment for having kegs is a fine of $300 per keg. Some houses, however, have received more severe punishments for kegs, partly attributed to the climate of the relationship between Greek organizations and the administration. Thus, one big step for the administration in overhauling the Greek system was establishing a more consistent alcohol policy on campus.
Both administrations and Greek organizations face many challenges in refurbishing the Greek system. While some students feel that many colleges are trying to rid themselves of Greek presence on campus, others feel that Greek systems are so poorly run that it should not exist at all. Furthermore, in several institutions administrators ask the faculty to express its feelings on various campus policies, they overwhelmingly favored dissolving Greek systems altogether. While this news may come of little surprise to many, it explains why administrators have taken on a mentality that there will either be a well-supervised Greek system or none at all.
9-11-11 PEK Twin Towers Orphan fundraiser at UMaine
This is a pivotal time for Greek organizations on campus, and in order to make sure they run smoothly, administrators have hired varied Directors of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. They have also attempted to bolster unity between Greek houses by organizing several events such as "Meet the Greeks," and barbecues for both Greek and non-Greek students etc. They also scheduled retreats to be attended by the presidents of all Greek houses. This both added to Greek unity and dissolved some of the residual tension between Greek organizations in recent years. In addition these Directors have tried to build stronger relationships between Greek systems and college Police Departments by advocating party registrations. While on-campus houses have long been required to register social events involving fifty or more people, this policy has received little to no enforcement. The Directors have made it clear that Greek houses must register all parties with the police department seven business days in advance. Thus they have taken decisive steps toward successful Greek systems, only time will tell if the effects will last.
Administrators have started the attempt to overhaul Greek systems. The Affairs Directors have already made their presence known, and Greek houses are cooperating with their directions for augmenting the system and restoring its good standing with the schools. These are all recent changes and, however, so evaluating their success at this point is of limited significance. So far this year, the police have been a much more aggressive body on campuses, strictly enforcing that large numbers of students do not loiter in the street and on sidewalks, and verifying that Greek houses take proper measures when admitting students to their events. Furthermore, administrators have made clear that Greek systems are being put to the test and must prove themselves in this crucial year or risk serious intervention.
If administrators can ensure student safety without imposing smothering policies involving police, then half the battle has been won. In order to solve the other side of the equation, the administrators needs to provide those supervising Greek affairs with enough resources both to effectively implement more structure to Greek systems and to build stronger relationships with the administrators. As it stands, it seems as though the ball is in both courts and both sides must respond accordingly.