April 14, 2009

IFC Votes to Alter Rush, Pledging and Social Processes

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In a special meeting on Saturday, the Interfraternity Council passed a set of resolutions that may fundamentally change the processes of recruitment, pledging and open parties. With a quorum of just over half the chapter presidents, five main changes were voted into effect, the sixth being tabled until tomorrow’s meeting. Most changes will go into effect next semester.
“These are things that are long overdue,” said Eddie Rooker ’10, IFC president. “They are problems we’ve had in the past, especially with new member education. We are a self-governing system, so we have to tackle the problems.”
The most controversial of the resolutions passed limits the number of open parties each house can have in a given semester to three. The resolution stated, “The Interfraternity Council understand[s] that it is neither a priority nor an obligation of their chapters to be the sole providers of nightly social events to Cornell University students.”
According to Nathan McMahon ’11 of Phi Kappa Tau, who was present at the meetings on Saturday, this change was met with the most opposition.
“Houses that have five or six parties per semester were upset, but most houses weren’t really affected by the change,” he said, noting this is a positive step towards making sure parties are not broken up by the police.
The IFC also decided that if the cumulative GPA of a pledge class in a specific chapter drops between .3 and .4 grade points during the semester of pledging, the chapter as a whole will receive four weeks of social probation. If the entire pledge class endures more than a .4 drop in GPA, the house will have an eight-week social probation. This comes as a result of research that shows students’ GPAs drop while pledging a fraternity. Furthermore, the resolution advocated that “the new member education period is a time where chapters should work to teach and reinforce good study habits that improve the academics of its new members.”
A more formal New Member Education Resolution gave specific definitions to hazing, dividing the practice into three separate levels with separate punishments. Level one hazing is identified as something that the Greek Judicial Board believes “could be perceived as hazing,” according to the resolution, and is punishable with a warning, educational sanction and $100 fine. Level two hazing is stated to be something clearly violating the rules of permissible behavior. This would receive disciplinary probation, an educational sanction, four weeks of social probation and a $500 fine. Level three hazing, which puts new members in immediate danger, constitutes immediate referral to the Chapter Review Board along with a recommendation that the University not recognize the chapter for a year. Social probation is also immediately put into effect.
The University already has policies in place to limit hazing, including a yearly Delta Series conference for all new members to learn about hazing and its effects. Houses that get in trouble for hazing also have their incidents published on a website of hazing infractions.
Another resolution lifted a ban on social events outdoors. Given that parties have a maximum of 150 students and go through the required registration process, houses can host events between the hours of 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.
A last resolution sought to create a more structured format for fall rush. Alcohol-free recruitment events will now begin after the third Monday in October. In November, the IFC considered implementing a day of dry rush for the spring rush period, although that never came to fruition.
“I thought they were really positive changes. We are going in the right direction as a Greek System,” McMahon said.
Tabled until Wednesday was a resolution dictating that potential rushees must maintain a 2.4 GPA during their first semester in order to be allowed to register for rush week, with an optional appeals process. This resolution was contentious, with many people arguing that those with lower GPAs often contribute very positively to many chapters, according to McMahon.