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Fraternities at Cornell, past and present.

November 15, 2019

Cornell Interfraternity Council Attempts to Tackle Dirty Rushing, ‘Give Teeth’ to Regulations

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The Interfraternity Council’s most recent resolution targets “dirty rushing,” or the unpermitted recruitment of first-year students. In the past, most houses did partake in dirty rushing, IFC president Cristian Gonzalez ’20 said.

Dirty rushing is an “endemic issue,” the resolution reads, and can put participants at “serious risk.”

The resolution passed on Wednesday encourages alcohol-free preliminary recruitment in the fall that is regulated and must be approved by the IFC. Tightening rules for sober monitors and codifying expectations for audit checks at fraternity events are also among the resolution’s regulations. Audits are conducted by a third party, Cayuga Security and Investigation, Inc., which attends regulated events to check for safety, said Vincenzo Guido ’20, the IFC’s vice president for judicial affairs.

The IFC will also buy each fraternity a Cornell ID scanner to swipe in students as they enter, which Gonzales said would allow fraternities to more effectively bar first-years from attending. This was another already-existing policy that fell out of use, Guido said.

The resolution also suggests punishments — including a fine of up to $75 for members, loss of IFC voting rights and referral to a Greek life hearing board —for infractions. The punishments are advisory suggestions provided to the review board, which can elect to use them or not.

A representative from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was present at the IFC meeting on Wednesday, according to Guido. Guido declined to comment on if or how the fraternity chapter voted, and said most votes were counted by a show of hands, not a recorded vote.

President Martha Pollack told The Sun that the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had apparently hosted an unregistered, “dirty rush” party on Oct. 24.

The fraternity — and the question of fraternities’ commitment to safety as a whole — was thrust into the spotlight after first-year Antonio Tsialas ’23 was found dead last month after he was last seen at a Phi Kappa Psi party.

President Pollack said there was no indication of what led to Tsialas’s death, but that independent of his death, there was “significant misbehavior” at the party, including alcohol served with first-years present. Cornell suspended Phi Kappa Psi on Friday, and it will remain suspended until a formal ruling is made on whether it violated Greek life policies, spokesman John Carberry said.

“Since the investigation is ongoing, we don’t yet know the facts surrounding Antonio’s disappearance and death,” executive director Ronald K. Ransom of the national Phi Kappa Psi organization wrote in an email to The Sun. “Our members continue to work with police as they investigate.”

Alcohol and drugs are forbidden from informal recruitment events for any students between Fall and Winter breaks, according to Cornell’s Greek life policies. The policies also prohibit fraternities from recruiting first-semester students in the fall, a part of Cornell’s “deferred rushing” rule.

The resolutions passed with a supermajority, Gonzalez said, and while some chapters were not represented for the full meeting due to personal or academic conflicts, the IFC president said he had not yet heard any dissent. A quorum of 20 chapters was maintained for the meeting, Gonzalez said.

Much of the resolution amplifies already-existing event policies, and is “giving teeth” to those regulations, Gonzalez said.