Yesterday evening, the Inter-Fraternity Council, Panhellenic presidents and co-ed organizations came together to address assault and violence in the Greek system. We believe that the outcomes and action plan that emerged through this collaboration are an important first step in changing cultural norms on our campus. In this meeting, Greek leaders renewed their commitment to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive Greek system. The IFC has laid out a specific course of action so that we, as a collective organization, can achieve such change.
The IFC and Panhellenic presidents agree that individuals in Greek houses accused of assault must be held accountable for their actions. Indeed, community members should never feel intimidated or afraid to enter a social space on this campus. It is the responsibility of the fraternities and sororities a focal point of social interactions on campus to protect their house, membership and guests from those who violate the rules of the organization.
This organizational accountability begins with transparency and open communication among Greek houses. First and foremost, fraternity leaders must be aware of incidents of assault that occur within their house. Therefore the IFC, with the cooperation of Panhellenic and co-ed houses, seeks to set a new standard for adjudicating assault within the Greek system. For cases in which victims feel uncomfortable or unwilling to bring the case to Judicial Affairs, victims can share their account of the events with the president of their organization. The president will then speak to the president of the organization of the offending individual. It is then the responsibility of the organization that receives this information to adjudicate the member according to that organization’s bylaws. The presidents will continue the dialogue to ensure the good faith of the adjudication process. The IFC also hopes to work with Mentors Against Violence to provide a similar process of adjudication for unaffiliated students.
This transparency surrounding internal adjudications is a marked change from the past. Previously, organizations were not required to communicate the state of the adjudication process to peers. Transparency will ensure accountability, and will clear up misperceptions that an organization does not handle these issues seriously and swiftly.
In the case that sparked Panhellenic’s new practice, the house in question was undergoing an internal adjudication procedure on the incident reported in The Dartmouth (“Sororities announce new policy,” May 12). Members of the community, however, were not fully informed of these procedures and were upset with the ostensible inaction. With new lines of communication open, we hope that members of the community will be assured of our commitment to holding individuals in our organizations accountable for their actions.
Further, the organizations of the IFC agree that explicit clauses regarding assault must be added to house bylaws. Although many fraternities already have these clauses, it’s important that all houses in the Council make specific mention of what types of behaviors are inappropriate for its members. Any change in an organization’s bylaws requires discussion and debate within the brotherhood, and we think that such debate is vital to changing norms on campus.
Lastly, the IFC will be working with the Panhellenic presidents to discuss further measures in which we can effectively address assault on this campus. The IFC is committed to making a change in organizational and individual attitudes toward violence, in addition to a stronger focus on enforcement by Greek leaders. We are enthusiastic to engage Panhell, MAV and other relevant organizations in further policies and initiatives to confront this problem.
The organizations of the IFC are committed to reducing violence throughout the Greek system, now more than ever. We realize that this is not an easy or straightforward task, but we are confident that significant headway can be made through collaboration and communication with our counterpart organizations on campus. We hope that the sentiments expressed and action-plan formulated at last night’s meeting speaks to that commitment.