In an effort to address and combat poor student conduct within Greek life organizations, the University announced in a statement Monday morning that a 30-member task force will review final recommendations and policy reforms for the Greek community by the end of the semester.
According to a statement, the task force, chaired by former Panhellenic Association President Maddy Walsh and former Interfraternity Council President Alex Krupiak, will receive research and recommendations from nine subcommittees, each of which will be co-chaired by a member of Greek life and a faculty member.
The announcement of the new special task force comes just short of one year after three sororities and three fraternities on campus faced sanctions from the University and their national chapters, as well as legal repercussions, following a January ski trip.
In the statement, Krupiak said he was motivated to make changes within Greek life not only because of the ski trip controversies, but because of many other issues he saw as damaging.
“For me, it wasn’t just the ski trip incidents, but a laundry list of issues happening within Greek life that made us pause to look at where we were at, and where we needed to improve,” Krupiak said.
In an exclusive interview with The Michigan Daily, Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones said each subcommittee is committed to improving a specific aspect of Greek life on campus such as the Public Relations and Values Promotion subcommittee, which will help advertise the positive aspects and impacts Greek life organizations can have.
“First of all, if you’ve talked to folks in the Greek community, one of the things they’ve pointed out is, while bad things that happen in the Greek community get lots of public attention, the positive things they do are not receiving the same notice or recognition,” Jones said, citing the roughly $900,000 dollars Greek life organizations collectively raised for charity last year.
Public Relations and Values Promotion subcommittee will be dedicated to increasing awareness about the charitable and philanthropic accomplishments of each organization. The Management of Chapter Environment and Risk subcommittee will work toward ensuring safety in the planning and execution of all events hosted by fraternities and sororities. Members of the committee will also review the possibility of appointing live-in house directors for Interfraternity Council chapters. Sororities on campus all use this model, so several leaders are exploring the potential benefits of appointing older role models such as graduate students or other adult males to fraternities as well.
The task force will also have a subcommittee dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in the Greek community. In accordanance with the University’s current campus-wide efforts to improve diversity, this subcommittee will work toward strengthening the relationship between the four Greek life councils: IFC, Panhel, the Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. The committee will also work toward preventing cultural appropriation within the Greek community.
Other subcommittees will be tasked with creating initiatives to improve pre-recruitment education and educational activities, and strengthening advising structures and relationships with national organizations and working to solicit both parent and faculty input on Greek life policies. Another committee will also review whether or not fall rush is an ideal time to hold the rush process.
There will additionally be a committee working to help disaffiliated organizations on campus restore affiliation with the University.
“We need to look at how we can most effectively work with disaffiliated and rogue groups to manage risk and to have them understand how they can understand how they can be on a path back to recognition,” Jones said.
While these subcommittees research and recommend policies for the task force to consider, several new initiatives are already underway and will also be reviewed by the task force to determine whether they continue.
For instance, several student leaders, including Krupiak and Walsh, met with orientation students interested in Greek life over the summer to emphasize the founding values of the Greek life organizations as well as the social aspect.
The University also launched new pre-recruitment training through mandatory online modules for students interested in the rush process. The program focused on combating alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct and providing resources to address risk management, according to students.
Walsh said in the statement that the research she did over the summer was an important opportunity for her and her peers to recognize the organizations’ faults.
“I appreciated the time over the summer to take a step back and think about the big picture,” Walsh said. “We tend to rely on self-governance to tackle our own issues, but it is also important to understand our shortcomings and identify all available resources.”
Both Krupiak and Walsh agreed that expanding and sustaining educational outreach within the Greek community would be a top priority in the initiative.
Jones said she hopes the community’s efforts not only improve the University’s Greek system but other campus climates as well.
“Everybody is struggling and with our program being one of the largest Greek life programs in the country, we are believing that what we’re doing here and sharing it with others is going to help pave the way for other campuses that are engaging in this comprehensive change process as we are,” Jones said.