While University of Michigan students were enjoying their summer, the Ann Arbor City Council approved changes to the zoning code for fraternities and sororities in the hopes they would improve relations between Greek life houses and neighboring Ann Arbor residents. One of the changes requires new fraternities and sororities to maintain affiliation with the University or another college to be allowed expansion in the city; if affiliation is lost, a fraternity or sorority can apply for a two-year exemption to prevent loss of residence. In response to these zoning changes and the introduction of winter rush, a few fraternities have decided to disaffiliate from the Interfraternity Council and form the Ann Arbor Interfraternity Council. With disaffiliation, these fraternities lose the oversight, regulations and processes provided to IFC member fraternities associated with the University. In light of this new, independent fraternity organization, The Michigan Daily Editorial Board is concerned and curious as to how it affects the campus. We have rarely thought that IFC has gone far enough to protect student safety, but we are concerned about how these fraternities will act without any University oversight.
IFC protections include an alcohol-free rush environment, no hard liquor at parties, significant hazing oversight and a connection to the University’s investigative and disciplinary system. While students in disaffiliated fraternities will still be subject to University discipline should misconduct occur, the educational and reporting mechanisms that IFC provides to Greek life will not be available without affirmative action from the AAIFC. We worry without these University connections disaffiliated fraternities will not educate their members and provide reporting mechanisms to prevent hazing and other offenses. In addition, there has been little to no information on what the newly formed organization plans to do. The decision to disaffiliate seems to hinge on the need to avoid the effects of new zoning laws and in particular on the threat of losing the fraternity or sorority house. But that brings into question why these fraternities predicted they would lose affiliation in the first place.
Students should demand the AAIFC provide transparent standards at or exceeding the protection levels of the University’s IFC before engaging in any social events with these fraternities. While we have been critics in the past of the IFC’s lack of transparency in light of their self-suspension last year, we worry an institution with no obligation to provide transparency will not provide insight into how they seek to protect students until it is too late. We hope the AAIFC will alleviate these fears by being forthright with both current rushes and the public about how it plans to prevent sexual misconduct, hazing and other misconduct in an environment known for its desire for secrecy and self-preservation.