University announces new Fraternal Organization Agreements, lifts social activity suspensions
The new IFC, ISC, NHPC and MGC addenda aim to establish a "baseline of safety"
University President Teresa Sullivan announced Tuesday the immediate reinstatement of all social activities for Greek organizations, a ban instituted Nov. 22.
The agreement stipulates each fraternity and sorority organization must sign a Fraternal Organization Agreement addenda with new safety measures. Each of the four Greek organizations — the Inter-Fraternity Council, Inter-Sorority Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National Panhellenic Greek Council — developed their own regulations, which Sullivan has reviewed and approved. The updated agreements must be signed by chapter presidents or another designee by Jan. 16.
The Inter-Fraternity Council FOA addendum includes a host of new regulations for all fraternity functions — including mandated sober brothers at each drink station, a sober brother positioned at the stairs with key access to upstairs rooms, regulations on the types of alcohol offered and the manner in which it is served, and requiring guest lists for all functions.
The regulations apply to all “fraternity functions” — events running past 9 p.m. with more than half the members present. Tier I events include a number of guests higher than the number of members present, and Tier II events have approximately the same number of guests as brothers. To qualify, the event must be “sponsored, organized or hosted” by the chapter, and the regulations do not apply to events “hosted at a third-party venue licensed in accordance with Virginia Law” according to the FOA addenda.
IFC President Tommy Reid said the regulations were developed in conversation with various stakeholders across the University community.
“For the past month and half, the IFC governing board has been in consistent contact with fraternity chapter presidents, members of chapters, fraternity alumni council, and scores of other individual alumni, other student groups at U.Va. — particularly 1 in 4 and the NPHC, MGC and IFC — and representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students,” said Reid, a fourth-year College student. “These improvements to the system are a product of hundreds of conversations with those parties and multiple review processes including active chapter members and alumni and those other student groups.”
Each function must now provide access to bottled water and food. The regulations allow wine to be served if it is poured by a sober brother, and beer so long as it is in an unopened can. The addendum explicitly forbids “pre-mixed drinks and punches.”
All Tier I events must have Alcoholic Beverage Control-licensed bartenders to serve liquor, and Tier II events may only serve liquor if it is maintained at a central bar and overseen by a sober brother. Tier I events also will now have a security agent from an “IFC-approved vendor” stationed at the front door using a printed guest list, and Tier II events must be regulated by a guest list maintained by the fraternity.
Reid said the number and tier of parties held varies widely between fraternity chapters.
In total, the addendum requires each function to have three sober brothers plus one additional brother for each 30 members of the fraternity — and at least three of the sober brothers must be non-first-year students.
“We seek to achieve a safe environment at fraternity events by addressing high-risk drinking, sexual misconduct, and unhealthy power structures,” the IFC addenda reads. “These changes are not comprehensive – nor do they claim to be. Instead, we submit these reforms as the next step in the IFC’s commitment to guaranteeing a baseline of safety for fraternity members and our guests.”
Reid said enforcement of these various regulations will vary, and specific complaints will be investigated and adjudicated by the IFC judiciary committee.
“Fraternities are accountable to themselves, and there will be a monitoring system administered by the IFC,” he said.
The addenda also requires fraternity chapters to register their functions with the IFC by midnight the Tuesday before the event, a change Reid said will allow the IFC to offer better resources to each chapter.
“Under the old system, … the deadline for party registration was not explicit,” he said. “We want to be able to provide resources and assistance to fraternities well in advance of their functions and know the timeline of the events from the weekend. So the registration will allow the IFC to assist better in the management of fraternity events.”
The document also requires fraternities to submit two “risk management plans,” one for daytime events and one for night-time events, which must include provisions for handling emergencies.
The IFC received varied feedback throughout the development of the FOA addenda, Reid said.
“We received suggestions on both extreme poles — many advocated for the abolition of the Greek system altogether, many advocated for no changes,” he said. “We took every piece of advice and suggestion very seriously, and discussed it with fraternity members and alumni and the other stakeholders and developed these improvements to understanding the spectrum of suggestions that were being thrown out all over the place.”
Sullivan, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the administration were “involved collaboratively” in the process, he added.
Reid described the addendum as a “living document,” and said he expects it to change through time as better and more refined policies are developed.
“These improvements are designed to eliminate … levels of risk and guarantee a baseline of safety for everyone that walks into a fraternity house,” he said.
Sullivan said in a University press release that the efficacy of the various safety provisions would be evaluated throughout the spring semester.
Following the events of last fall, Reid said he hopes the new FOAs will help send a message from the University’s Greek community.
“I think all four councils recognized the ability for the entire Greek community across the IFC, the NPHC, the MGC and the ISC to make a collective statement that nobody in our community will tolerate one more sexual assault at U.Va.,” Reid said, “And for the Greek community in its entirety to become leaders on the institutionalization of survivor support and the promotion of active bystanders in the community.”
ISC, MGC and NPHC joint FOA addendum
The Inter-Sorority Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National PanHellenic
Council issued an FOA addendum joint agreement that will require chapters to develop an annually reviewed “council-specific Safety Recommendations document that includes risk management strategies and safe social practices,” the FOA addendum states.
The addendum also states chapters will “incorporate comprehensive Bystander Intervention training, alcohol education, and safe party practices into New Member Education.” The chapters will work with groups such as the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition, the Office of the Dean of Students and ADAPT to develop these programs.
Plans for the New Member Education program — that can include previously held educational sessions — will be presented by March 13, 2015 while the Safety Recommendations are to be re-evaluated this April, the addendum states.
ISC Safety Recommendations
The Inter-Sorority Council FOA addendum calls for chapter presidents to discuss risk management strategies and be trained in bystander intervention, survivor support and alcohol safety.
“We have reviewed the Fraternal Organization Agreement and identified areas that need improvement and clearer definition specifically for the ISC, and we acknowledge the importance of effective risk management and education, especially for New Members,” the ISC addendum reads.
Sororities must unofficially register mixers with the Vice President of Judiciary, in order to receive support and guidance. Failure to register will result in non-punitive actions, and “the VPJ cannot guarantee that a violation will not be reported or investigated.”
Sorority presidents, risk management chairs and new member educators will discuss risk management strategies for any “event, day, or period of time where high risk factors (such as alcohol, location, time of day) and/or risk behavior have occurred in the past,” according to the addendum, which cites Boys’ Bid Night, Foxfield and Block Party as examples.
A new “ISC Women On Call” system will also be implemented for high risk periods and events. Chapters leaders must sign up for time as the lead contact in the event of an unsafe situation, and their contact information, including phone numbers and emails, will be shared with the ISC community.
Chapter presidents and risk management chairs will also discuss safety at unofficial sorority member-associated events involving alcohol, such as “pre games, birthday parties, and holiday parties.” Following evaluation, presidents “will provide appropriate recommendations ... and advice based on ADAPT and Bystander Intervention Trainings.”
The addenda states that chapters must have sober sisters at all social events and include bystander intervention strategies and survivor support training for their annual FOA education presentation requirement.
The ISC will also host a “Something of Value” program, developed by the NPHC, during the Spring semester and update its website to include a link to the University’s “Just Report It” system.
MGC Safety Regulations
Multicultural Greek Council President Allen Au, a fourth-year Commerce student, issued a memorandum outlining increased safety measures, specifically regarding incidents of hazing.
Because MGC chapters lack official houses off Grounds, events are held at third-party vendors or on-Grounds venues that include increased security, Au said.
“In terms of event safety, while that is kind of an issue for all organizations that choose to have events, the [MGC chapter] presidents recognized that it wasn’t as much of a focus for our council,” he said. “Our main focus was on the new member education process and hazing.”
Chapters will be required to provide both the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Multicultural Greek Council president an outline of goals for new member education processes. The memorandum also states that the Council will provide each chapter resources for educating all prospective members on hazing, and will require all to sign a written statement of understanding after reading the materials.
Before new member education processes can begin, new member educators must have attended at least one hazing educational program, and new member educators and respective chapter presidents must meet with the OFSL Council coordinator to discuss safety recommendations, the memorandum states.
NPHC Regulations and Policy Guidance Manual
The University’s National Panhellenic Council released a Regulations and Policy Guidance Manual, detailing official regulations and governing policy guidelines with regard to alcohol, hazing and risk management.
“We didn’t what to solely base our reform on sexual assault,” fourth-year Batten student and NPHC president Julian Jackson said. “What we wanted to address was the entire issue of student safety and how we can better the [entire] Greek system, as well as provide a safer environment for University students.”
According to the document, “all events sponsored by member organizations ... in living spaces ... are not allowed to provide liquor (hard alcohol) or any variation, including pre-mixed drinks, at any event.” However, beer and wine may be distributed in “living spaces” in closed containers or by a licensed bartender.
Liquor may be served at events located at third-party vendors, provided that the event conforms to member organization fraternity or sorority guidelines and is insured by the organization. Additionally, events located at third-party vendors must include licensed security to check for valid state identification.
Additionally, sponsoring organizations must commit 50 percent of their members to be sober at alcohol-based events. A list of these sober members must be submitted to the Council prior to the event, and members are required to wear identifying gear at the event.
“[The 50-percent rule] was a very large discussion with the Presidents Council and our organization,” Jackson said. “The average size of our organizations is six to eight people, … [so] with smaller councils, it is a lot easier to implement. We wanted to make that a staple reform, one that we have been using, but put it down on paper essentially.”
The manual also requires social events held with other Greek organizations or non-Greek groups to follow NPHC guidelines and the guidelines of the other organization. It also asks that NPHC member organizations refrain from using IFC or ISC houses for social events.
The second section of the document outlines hazing policies and states that all NPHC organizations must submit updated documentation on their hazing policies and practices to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Further regulations also call for an authorized, non-undergraduate member of each representative organization to attend informational meetings targeted toward potential new members. Chapters are required to discuss the University’s policies regarding hazing and pledging activities and their potential consequences at these meetings.
The NPHC has also committed to “hosting extensive New Member Orientations for the Council and [assisting and participating] in New Member Orientations across Councils.” Orientations will include bystander intervention training, survivor support training and risk management strategies, and are mandatory for council members and required annually.
“I think a lot of the reforms are indicative of what is a problem at each Greek system’s council,” Jackson said. “Keeping [reform] separate from council to council really puts us in a good position to be successful and implement a lot of change in the Greek system moving forward.”