In a constructive step directed at addressing some of the problems plaguing the Greek system, the Interfraternity Council has restored the Junior IFC program to its agenda. The program focuses primarily on eliminating sexual assault and hazing from within Greek organizations. The IFC should be commended for internalizing these issues and recognizing the need for significant change. It is encouraging that the leaders of the Greek community seem to be committed to educating their peers on the dangers of abusive hazing and aggressive sexual behavior toward women. If executed thoroughly, the JIFC program has the potential to markedly improve the Greeks’ deteriorating reputation on campus.
The Greeks clearly need the program, especially in light of recent incidents and allegations that have tarnished the system’s already less-than-stellar reputation. Following Fall Rush 2004, administrators levied a large number of hazing allegations against many of the University’s fraternities and sororities. Even though a comprehensive investigation of those allegations has revealed no evidence for many of the charges, the report deplored a so-called “culture of hazing” within the Greek system.
In addition, fraternities on campus carry with them the stereotype of being unsafe for women due to repeated reports of sexual assault during parties and other social events. Just last year, Sigma Alpha Epsilon faced allegations of rape, and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center has reported that roughly (10 percent of all sexual assaults) occur in connection with Greek system each year. The JIFC hopes to change these patterns by educating their members about sexual assault and providing an open forum for discussion and assault prevention training.
Already, students living in University residence halls are required to attend a SAPAC training session at the beginning of each year. It is encouraging that the JIFC promises to extend these workshops to the Greek system. Every student, regardless of gender or Greek affiliation, can benefit from the program’s prevention training. SAPAC offers essential awareness on the frequency of sexual assault and information on how to avoid unsafe situations on campus. Sexual abuse is not a problem unique to Greek system, and SAPAC should take the necessary steps to educate as many students as possible on the issue.
The biweekly JIFC meetings started by the Greek leaders are also meant to keep fellow members of the Greek community from binge drinking and hazing pledges. If the Greeks are sincerely committed to making a change, these meetings should be treated with the utmost seriousness and, at least initially, made mandatory for all members. While the Pan-Hellenic Association hosted an informational speaker on Tuesday to discuss substance abuse, sexual assault and sexually transmitted diseases, the IFC required only 60 percent of each affiliated fraternity to attend. The Greek leaders, who are responsible enough to recognize a need for the JIFC program, should also be aware that it will have little effect if the meetings and related events are not made mandatory.
Considering their current situation, Greek affiliates should be showing great concern about the dangers of hazing and sexual assault. Fraternities and sororities alike must be a united front against these threats, and embrace the JIFC as an opportunity to autonomously improve their bruised reputation. If the program is able to achieve what it has set out to do, the JIFC program could be a big help for the University’s embattled Greek community.