A new initiative to give sorority members more responsibility for party safety at Interfratnerity Council-registered parties has been successful so far, Greek Life officials say.
The new collaboration between IFC and the Panhellenic Association requires that a certain number of women must remain sober at a fraternity event, fulfilling a role similar to sober monitors. The initiative began with an amendment passed last semester by IFC, which requires a few members from visiting chapters to serve as social liaisons alongside the sober monitors of the hosting fraternity at IFC events. The number of designated social liaisons depends on the size of the registered event.
The purpose of having the female sober liaisons as opposed to just male sober monitors is to allow sorority women who may need assistance at events to feel more comfortable, according to Greek student officials.
LSA senior Tarin Krzywosinski, vice president of social responsibility for Panhel, said sorority member liaisons who she has talked to find their participation at events to be “beneficial.” She said there haven’t been any major problems with the collaboration reported so far.
“They’ve personally dealt with girls that needed help,” Krzywosinski said. “Their presence overall made the parties safer. They’re glad it’s a requirement.”
Krzywosinski said she hopes this amendment will give the Greek community a more positive image and show all members of the University and the larger Ann Arbor community that safety is one of the organizations’ top priorities.
“Hopefully this will be something that just becomes common practice for years to come,” she said. “No one will even know that this was something that we didn’t do in the past.”
Members of both councils were initially concerned that some sororities might not participate in the policy because some sorority national organizations did not want their members taking on increased responsibility and liability at parties. But LSA senior Mike Miniaci, vice president of social responsibly for IFC, wrote in an e-mail interview that so far the amendment is going better than originally anticipated.
“I expected some hiccups as we were first implementing the policy,” Miniaci wrote. “But everything has gone smoothly. Fraternities and sororities are both cooperating, and the results are showing with the increased safety at our events.”
The social liaisons have been very helpful to the fraternity sober monitors, according to Miniaci.
“With the social liaisons looking after the members of their sorority, the sober monitors can focus more on actively controlling the event,” he wrote.
Over the course of this and following semesters, Miniaci wrote that both councils will have a better sense of the amendment’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I anticipate IFC and Panhel to evaluate the amendment and make changes if they are necessary,” he wrote.
Engineering senior Lianna Gordon, executive vice president of Panhel, said she thinks IFC events have improved with the new initiative.
“It is safer,” she said. “(The social liaisons) know their sisters and they can identify them versus a fraternity member who doesn’t necessarily know who they are, where they’re from, how old they are, whether they live in a dorm or in the sorority house, etc.”
General safety knowledge within Panhel has also increased with the addition of educational workshops on the effects of alcohol consumption, Gordon said.
This semester, Gordon has restarted the Secure in Sisterhood workshops in partnership with University Health Service. The goal of these workshops is to increase alcohol awareness, particularly among new freshmen members, for whom the workshops are mandatory.
“We were trying to reach out to them and say, ‘Listen, you are going out at night, what’s the story you want to tell in years to come? … What stories do you portray?’ ” Gordon said.
For example, the workshops addressed the implications of having party pictures on Facebook, and how various medications like birth control, ADD and ADHD medicine can affect how intoxicated one feels, she said. Other topics included the effects of Four Loko, the recently banned alcoholic energy drink.
The point of the workshops, Gordon said, isn’t to preach to members that they shouldn’t drink, but rather to encourage them to be safe.
“The purpose is to help girls understand when they need to help their sisters, how to help themselves and how to be responsible at night,” she said.
Gordon said she hopes the workshops will continue in the future to ensure all future Panhel members are educated about these issues.
“When you try to change a community, you have to start at the youngest level so it can carry on through,” she said.