Fraternities at Cornell, past and present. (Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor, Katie Sims / Sun Senior Photographer)

November 3, 2019

Panhellenic Sororities to Vote to Freeze Mixing with Fraternities Due to Safety Concerns

Print More

On Friday, the President of the Panhellenic Council proposed an unprecedented shift in Greek Life on campus: a freeze of all social mixers between member sororities and fraternities on campus until the Interfraternity Council and Executive Board upped safety measures for party-goers.

The demands include a curb on “dirty rushing” — or the premature recruitment of members before the official rushing period — as well as the enforcement of safety-centered event management rules, including scanning Cornell IDs, requiring trained Cayuga’s Watchers sobriety monitors at all parties and safe transportation to and from mixers held at fraternity houses.

President of the Panhellenic Council Maya Cutforth '20 is to freeze all social mixers between member sororities and IFC fraternities until safety concerns were addressed.

Courtesy of Cornell University

President of the Panhellenic Council Maya Cutforth ’20 proposed a freeze on all social mixers between member sororities and IFC fraternities until safety concerns were addressed.

Panhel President Maya Cutforth ’20 proposed the boycott on mixers after the Interfraternity Council suspended official fraternity events last weekend, a move announced on Wednesday night in response to the death of Antonio Tsialas ’23.

Since Tsialas’ death, Cornell University Police Chief David Honan has urged individuals with information to come forward by reaching out to the CUPD, or by using the Silent Witness Program, writing in a campus-wide “blue light” email on Friday.

“As the number of cooperative witnesses increases, so does the probability of a conclusion to this investigation which will provide answers for the grieving family and to our community as a whole,” Honan continued.

The statement, which was featured in a weekly email about general campus safety information, was the first public statement by the police department since the announcement of the freshman’s death on Oct. 26. When asked about the status of the investigation, Honan referred back to the blue light statement and said the case was still under active investigation.

IFC President Cristian Gonzalez ’20 told The Sun at the time of his announcement of the moratorium that the council had chosen to suspend the weekend parties to respect the tragedy.

The council made the decision after the freshman Tsialas was found Saturday in Fall Creek Gorge, after last being seen Thursday night at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party. The Phi Kappa Psi president did not respond to The Sun’s requests for comment.

“We believe that it would be disrespectful and wrong to be celebrating this weekend given the passing of Antonio,” Gonzalez told The Sun at the time.

The Panhel proposal was reflecting “an element of that” message, but was also a long-awaited step towards upping safety for students, Cutforth said.

The fraternities’ temporary suspension of social events last weekend was a key first step, but one weekend wouldn’t create “meaningful” social change, Cutforth noted, saying that IFC members could do more to promote safety.

Cutforth’s proposal to suspend mixers was presented to representatives of the thirteen active on-campus sororities on Thursday, and sororities were encouraged to weigh the merits and critiques of the proposal in their own chapter meetings. On Wednesday, when sorority presidents will vote on the proposal, Cutforth is seeking a unanimous vote, saying that the freeze will not be effective unless all sororities agree to it.

If passed, sororities would agree to not attend social events hosted in fraternity houses until actionable items were taken by Panhel and IFC. Items included an internal review by both Panhel and IFC of sober monitoring training, the placement and enforcement of sober monitors at fraternity house exits and the prevention of first-years at official fraternity events in the fall semester. Cutforth said she discussed the proposal with leadership of the Panhel and IFC executive board.

While Cutforth said some have criticized the plan for simply shifting parties from chapter houses to Collegetown, Cutforth said the critiques were “reproducing rhetoric.”

The Panhel vote, which will be open to the community to attend, will be held in Willard Straight Hall’s Room 413 on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.