February 7, 2012

IFC Debates Plan to Fine Frats for Infractions

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The Interfraternity Council will vote on a resolution Wednesday that, if approved, would allow its judicial board to impose financial penalties on fraternities found to be in violation of some policies, according to Ken Babcock ’13, vice president for judicial affairs for the IFC.

The resolution was introduced on Feb. 1 at a closed meeting of the Presidents’ Council — the legislative body of the IFC comprised of the president of each member chapter as well as each officer on the IFC executive board — according to multiple sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

If approved, the IFC will have the authority to impose fines on chapters that commit any one of three specific infractions: hosting an unregistered event, serving hard alcohol at an event or serving alcohol at an event with freshmen.

Chapter presidents raised objections to details of the proposal, but after a period of open deliberation among the council, only three voting members indicated that they were entirely opposed to the idea of monetary penalties, according to the anonymous sources.

According to Babcock, the current punishment for a chapter that commits a major policy violation is social probation. However, he said that the threat of probation has not been effective in discouraging fraternities from hosting unregistered events.

“Monetary funds are something that we haven’t really explored before,” Babcock said. “The reason we went into the monetary realm was that … what really impacts chapters and deters them from having events is if they don’t necessarily have the funding to throw these events.”

Though fines would be deducted from chapters’ social funds, they would be assessed at a rate proportional to the number of brothers in the chapter, according to Alan Workman ’13, executive vice president for the IFC. He said the system would ensure that penalties affect houses of all sizes equally.

“Some houses on our campus are up to 100 people and some are as small as 10,” Workman said. “A blanket fine would affect people disproportionately since larger houses have larger social budgets.”

The initial rate proposed for penalties was a “10/10/10” breakdown — $10 per brother for a violation of one of the qualifying infractions, $20 for two of the infractions and $30 for three of the infractions, according to Workman.

However, Workman said these numbers are likely to change in the version of the resolution that will be presented to the Presidents’ Council Wednesday night.

“It’s going to be a fine based on a per-brother basis, but we won’t know what the final monetary value will be,” he said.

According to Workman, the resolution was discussed and changes were proposed at a meeting of the IFC Task Force Monday. The Task Force, which Workman leads and which is comprised of 12 chapter presidents, addressed a complaint raised at the Feb. 1 meeting that the 10/10/10 breakdown would give equal weight to all three types of behavior.

“The chapter presidents communicated to us that there didn’t seem to be a primary focus on safety,” Babcock said. “The most high-risk thing right now is hard alcohol … so the resolution was tweaked a little bit.”

Babcock said that fraternities often get a sense of “invincibility” when they throw unregistered parties, sometimes breaking all three of the major policies tackled by the resolution at once. It is these types of events that he said most often result in medical transports and hospitalizations.

“With a fine system in place, [chapter presidents] and risk managers can sort of quantify the risk that they’re taking by holding [these] types of events,” Babcock said.

One alternative to fines that was suggested at the Feb. 1 Presidents’ Council meeting was the penalty of mandatory community service for certain policy violations. According to the sources who requested anonymity, the idea was well-received among presidents at the meeting, though Workman said the proposed system will remain a fine for now.

The council tabled the resolution for reconsideration and will vote on its passage Wednesday night.

“We presented [the resolution] as a work in progress,” Babcock said. “We solicited chapter presidents’ feedback, and you’re definitely going to see something that will be a little bit different tomorrow.”

Despite some initial objections raised last week, several sources said the Presidents’ Council was generally receptive to the resolution.

“There were a few presidents who were completely against the idea,” one fraternity president said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It will most likely pass tomorrow based off of president responses from the last meeting.”

Original Author: Rebecca Harris