Presidents' Councilruling highlights IFCJC
The Inter-Fraternity Council Presidents' Council's decision last week to continue recognition of Zeta Psi marked the first instance in which the Presidents' Council had to decide whether to follow the IFC Judiciary Committee recommendation to remove recognition of the fraternity.
Following the Zeta Psi decision, fraternity presidents voiced both praise and concern regarding the trial process and the balance of power between the IFCJC and the Presidents' Council.
When a case goes before the IFCJC, a panel of judges first determines guilt or innocence and then issues a sanction if the fraternity is found guilty, IFC president Andrew Paradis explained.
In most cases, the IFCJC chooses the sanctions which will be imposed. In the most severe cases, however, the IFCJC can recommend that the Presidents' Council remove recognition of the offending fraternity. If the Council votes to retain the fraternity as a member, a lesser sanction previously agreed upon by the IFCJC goes into effect, Paradis said.
In the recent Zeta Psi case, Council members experienced this process for the first time.
During the Council meeting, IFCJC representatives talked about the history of recent offenses and the background of the incident that led to the recommendation to revoke the fraternity's charter, said Andrew Quinn, president of the Zeta Psi.
Phi Delta Theta president Layton Hill said most presidents did not know the history of the case before the meeting but were provided with adequate information during the meeting.
"Most of the presidents came into the Presidents' Council meeting unaware of many, if not all, of the circumstances surrounding the trial," Hill said.
During the meeting, both sides presented their cases, and Council members had the opportunity to ask questions, Hill added.
"I feel like everyone going into the vote felt they were well informed," Hill said.
Delta Upsilon President Tom Bannard said he believes the Council should have the final say in whether a fraternity loses its IFC recognition, since fraternity presidents are most familiar with issues involving fraternities.
"I think that it's proper that anybody who is possibly going to lose their charter should be brought before all the presidents, because the presidents are the people with the most understanding of what houses go through," Bannard said.
Several fraternity presidents said anonymously that the Councils' final decision may have been influenced by some fraternity presidents' sympathy for the accused fraternity.
"You have to put yourself in the situation [to] see if you want that to happen to your house," one president said.
A second president confirmed this sentiment.
"It does come up, because, given your position, you are inclined to think that way."
A third president said his conversations with other fraternity presidents have focused on the issue.
"From talking to several of the other presidents, it's something that always comes up," he said.
That president also expressed concern about the implications of not following through with the recommendation of the IFCJC.
"I've seen people who said this just shows fraternity guys won't police themselves," he said. "In terms of the fraternities themselves, I think we're all still scared of the IFCJC, [but] in terms of everybody else, I don't know."
Paradis said he does not think the Council's decision to refuse the recommendation of the IFCJC reflects poorly on the IFC's judicial system but can be viewed as a successful structure of checks and balances.
According to IFCJC Chair Pierce Wiegard, the IFC vice president for judiciary, the IFCJC has gained legitimacy over the past several years, which has caused a greater number of administrators and other community members to bring cases involving fraternities to the IFCJC rather than to the University Judiciary Committee.
Wiegard and Paradis explained that the IFCJC bylaws permit the organization to conduct investigations and trials of fraternities relating to both IFC standards of conduct and University standards of conduct, since fraternity members agree to uphold both sets of standards upon joining a Greek organization. Cases involving University standards of conduct can be brought before IFCJC or UJC at the discretion of the case initiator.
According to former IFC President Ross Kimbel, every case in the past two years involving charges against fraternities relating to University standards of conduct was brought to the IFCJC rather than to the UJC.
UJC Chair Raleigh Anne Blank said privacy regulations prevented her from releasing any information about prior cases.