The IMP Society and Student Hip-Hop Organization hosted an event Oct. 2018 at Beta Theta Pi’s fraternity house where there were alleged violations of the previously agreed upon terms of the party. The IMPsand SHHO later called out Beta Theta Pi members’ “blantant discrimination” barring students of color from entering the house, creating an unwelcoming and separate space. In response to issues such as these, the University Judiciary Committee introduced the University and Fraternity Panel at a recent General Body meeting. The primary goal of the Panel is to hear cases of alleged misconduct at any co-sponsored event between recognized Inter-Fraternity Council fraternities and organizations affiliated with the University, such as CIOs. In implementing this body, UJC has not only filled a gap in the judicial system, but has also set an important precedent in holding one of the largest social organizations on Grounds accountable for its behavior.
Currently, any reported misconduct of IFC fraternities is adjudicated within its own judicial body — the Inter-Fraternity Council Judiciary Committee. The IFCJC uses a separate set of standards and sanctioning procedures to handle these reports. However, this does not include a specific system for hearing cases involving CIOs or any other University-sponsored organization. The absence of an adequate body to hear a case regarding these allegations demonstrated a clear shortcoming of the judiciary system at the University.
While the IFCJC does provide some oversight for fraternities, the University is not involved in any of these processes. In fact, the University has no authority in these cases, and reports of misconduct concerning Greek life is handled almost exclusively by the fraternity’s national organization. Nevertheless, the University may act in cases that directly follow its jurisdiction, meaning the involvement of University groups or property. Therefore, the formal creation of this committee within UJC is an important recognition of the University’s responsibility in such affairs.
The Panel will not necessarily be its own independent entity, however, as each UFP trial will be required to have an equal number of representatives from both UJC and IFCJC in order to ensure a fair and equitable voting system. In addition to this, each representative on the UFP will have to complete procedural training led by a student experienced with the innerworkings of deliberation and sanctioning. This collaboration will essentially fill the current gaps in the University judiciary system to ensure an environment in which all students can not only feel welcomed and safe but also have the ability to hold others accountable when they foster an environment in which it is impossible to do so.
There are a host of issues surrounding Greek life and their procedures at the University, and this new body by no means will solve them in their entirety. For example, unsafe party culture, sexist double standards considering fraternities and sororities and concerns about accessibility persist. This judicial body cannot be expected to remedy all of these issues — however, it is a step to begin holding them more accountable to the student body and the groups of which they are a part.
With hopes of continuing to foster a community of diversity and inclusion at the University, this panel is both a necessary and welcomed addition to our current judiciary system. This judiciary body allows fraternities to be held accountable for how they stand within the University community. By directly acknowledging that fraternities are held to the same standards of student self-governance, UJC is making it easier for the University community as a whole to interact with IFC fraternities. It is a solid step in the right direction, under which there is only room for more improvement.
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