March 10, 2011

IFC Cancels Weekend Fraternity Parties

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The Interfraternity Council voted Friday afternoon to prohibit social events at fraternity houses this weekend. The vote came as Cornell’s Greek system faces increasing pressure following the death of George Desdunes ’13 at Sigma Alpha Epsilon on Feb. 25, and as the Board of Trustees met on campus this weekend.“As more discussions occur around recent events, we will be expected to embody the change that must come within our system,” Dan Freshman ’12, president of the IFC, said in a statement e-mailed to fraternity members.Freshman emphasized Friday evening that the decision to cancel parties was made by IFC members, rather than Cornell administrators.“There is nothing being handed down by the administration,” he said. “This is something that the Greek leaders wanted to actively enforce.”Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, did not respond to a request for comment.The moratorium on parties affected an unusually large number of fraternities — 10 chapters were planning to hold parties open to all students this weekend, which is a higher number than normal, Freshman said.“Having 10 events that are essentially open parties is very high risk,” he said. “We would rather take a moment to reflect” on how to improve the Greek system.The moratorium came two weeks after the death of George Desdunes, a brother at SAE who was found unresponsive in his fraternity’s house and later died at Cayuga Medical Center. The Ithaca Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident, and the Tompkins County District Attorney’s office is also involved.The University has launched its own investigation, but it is waiting for results from the police inquiry. Even so, it temporarily suspended SAE on March 3, saying that alcohol involved in the incident likely constituted a violation of Cornell’s recognition policy for fraternities.The IPD detective in charge of the case could not be reached for comment Friday.The University’s Board of Trustees met on campus this weekend, and several Greek leaders said the moratorium was partly intended to show the trustees that the Greek system could be responsible.IFC members approved the moratorium by a vote of 32 to 0, with three members abstaining.At the same meeting Friday afternoon, the Panhellenic Council voted to support IFC’s moratorium, asking its members to refrain from attending parties at fraternity houses this weekend.“We wanted to try our best to preserve the autonomy of our system” by proving to administrators and trustees “that our system can be responsible,” said Meagan Malzberg ’12, Panhel’s vice president of judicial affairs and standards.The moratorium is not expected to continue after this weekend, Freshman said.“We won’t cancel parties like this again on such short notice,” Malzberg said.IFC last canceled parties in fall 2009 during an outbreak of H1N1 influenza — or “swine flu” — on campus. The council passed a seven-day moratorium on all fraternity parties.

Original Author: Michael Linhorst