An errant document and lack of communication has muddied
relations between the University administration and members of the
Interfraternity Council.

Kate Green
LAURA SHLECTER/Daily
Interfraternity Council President Casey Bourke speaks last night in the Michigan Union about a plan proposed by the University administration affecting the Greek community.

Rumors and concerns over policies to be imposed on the Greek
system by the administration were presented at an IFC meeting last
night, where members expressed unease over what they said was an
official document that outlines changes proposed for the Greek
community.

The rumors regard the administration’s plans to implement
hazing prevention measures, delayed Rush and substance-free housing
in the near future.

In response to a letter sent by Alumnae Panhellenic Association
to E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, the IFC
received a four-page document titled “The Plan,” which
outlined future goals “to promote healthy behaviors through
individual and group focused approaches.” The document
proposes to “adopt proactive practices to prevent
hazing.”

Members of the IFC expressed outrage over the lack of student
input in the administration’s drafting of the document.

“I’d like to sit down and hammer this out,”
said IFC president Casey Bourke. The Greek community did not
receive input from the administration during its strategic planning
commission, said Bourke, an LSA sophomore.

Harper recognized the document as her own personal brainstorm,
but said she had no knowledge of how it landed in IFC’s
hands.

“I understand (IFC’s) anger because they are reading
this out of context, without any conversation. What I don’t
understand is how that happened,” Harper said. “I do
take full responsibility for it, but I didn’t send
it.”

The administration said there are no official plans for any
modifications to the Greek system and added that the next step
calls for a dialogue with students.

“We are still developing a process and schedule for
discussion, feedback and sharing,” said University
spokeswoman Julie Peterson.

While both groups share similar goals, such as support for state
anti-hazing legislation or the eventual implementation of
substance-free housing, lack of communication and misunderstanding
has hindered both their efforts.

“We need to be clear about what hazing is and what the
consequences are,” Harper said.

The IFC opposes deferring Rush and live-in supervisors because
of their effect on fraternities’ enrollment and financial
situation. They cited the potential for housing complications and
their First Amendment right to free association, claiming they are
being discriminated against.

According to IFC members, “deferred Rush” would mean
that no University students would be allowed to rush fraternities
or sororities until winter term, as opposed to choosing between a
fall and winter rush, which is the current practice.

And here emerges another point of confusion between the
University and IFC. Harper’s “Plan” actually
seeks to defer fall rush only for students beginning their first
term at the University.

The timing of these measures comes after the hazing incident at
the Sigma Chi fraternity where a sophomore pledge was hospitalized
for renal failure after being forced to participate in calisthenics
without water.

“I think the way this is going about won’t
necessarily solve the problem,” Bourke said. “We aim to
improve every aspect of Greek life and want to stamp out hazing. We
fully endorse anti-hazing legislation but this feels like
punishment.”

Harper responded by refuting the claim.

“This is not punishment for hazing,” she said.
“These recommendations for deferred Rush predate the last
hazing incident.”

These changes were originally proposed by a joint student and
faculty committee for LSA in 1998, Harper said. The administration
also culled information from the Undergraduate Educational
Commission Report in 2001 and the Greek Community Strategic Plan
2010.

“We want to give students a chance to get on campus and
learn this place, settle in and get engaged,” Harper said.
“To make that serious commitment, it requires serious
thought.”

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