IFC decides to admit local fraternities

The University's local fraternities now will have the opportunity to join the Inter-Fraternity Council after an amendment Thursday to the Inter-Fraternity Council's Judiciary Committee bylaws and procedures.

Local fraternities -- fraternal organizations not affiliated with national chapters -- had been banned as IFC members until now.

Although the IFC's process of admission, requiring a two-thirds majority vote from the IFC's Presidents' Council, has not been altered, new standards have been instated to ensure the local fraternities admitted are viable chapters, IFC President Phil Trout said.

"There are several advantages to being a member of the IFC for a local fraternity," Trout said. "If a local chapter is a social fraternity, then the most obvious benefits would come from participating in IFC rush and party patrol. The IFC has a number of support functions in every aspect of fraternity life, from community service coordination to alumni relations assistance."

The Presidents' Council is composed of a representative from each IFC chapter and the IFC executive board. The Council will work with the Greek Coordinating Committee before determining a fraternity's acceptance or rejection, Trout said.

The GCC, a student-run organization consisting of representatives from all four Greek councils, must receive documentation from local fraternity applicants showing various legal and safety requirements have been met. In addition, the chapter must present documentation of separate requirements to the IFC.

Regardless of the GCC's recommendations, the final decision remains in the hands of the Presidents' Council, Trout said.

"We use [the recommendations] as a resource and guide, but we're not married to what they say," Trout said. "The GCC helps ensure a thorough process."

When the Presidents' Council votes on a fraternity's admission to the IFC, they must simultaneously approve an agreement outlining the fraternity's official obligations to the IFC. The agreement can include alcohol, fire hazard and rush regulations.

The agreement also requires a fraternity to have minimum insurance coverage and assume its own legal and financial responsibility.

Trout said the agreement signed between a local fraternity and the IFC resolves concerns that by lacking a national organization, "the IFC would be more liable, or the local fraternity will not get sufficient oversight."

The IFC executive board will review annually each chapter's compliance with the agreement. Failure of a chapter to provide adequate evidence of meeting the IFC's requirements serves as grounds for its dismissal, Trout said. Because of such rigorous requirements, chapters "will not necessarily see that option as an incentive to

disaffiliate from their nationals," Trout said. Even if such a trend were to occur, "the Presidents' Council can simply decide to stop admitting local fraternities."

Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life, said the amendment encourages the establishment and legitimacy of fraternities initiated by students.

"Clearly, any group of students can form organizations here on Grounds," he said. "The IFC's amendment frames the conditions by which a local fraternity would seek membership with its council."

Laushway added serious discussion of the amendment has dominated the IFC's agenda this semester.

According to Trout, the amendment will make for "an even playing field" among social fraternities by enforcing legal and safety procedures, thus "ensuring the stability for the system more than having viable local chapters not be on the council."

No local fraternities have formally requested admittance into the IFC as of yet, Trout said.

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