Various fraternities, past and present, in the Interfraternity Council.

Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor, Katie Sims / Sun Senior Photographer

Various fraternities, past and present, in the Interfraternity Council.

November 20, 2019

Cornell Interfraternity Council Bars Alcohol from All Spring Recruitment Events

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In another reform to the fraternity rushing process passed on Tuesday night, the Interfraternity Council voted to ban alcohol — and tighten other rules — at spring rush events.

Cristian Gonzalez '20

Cristian Gonzalez ’20

The Tuesday proposal, which was voted on by the fraternity presidents, passed with a supermajority, IFC President Cristian Gonzalez ’20 said. All member fraternities were represented, he said.

The changes attempt to reform many of fraternities’ traditional spring recruitment practices, which Gonzalez called “laissez-faire.”

Fraternities will be forbidden from serving alcohol at any recruitment events. Other drastic changes include a curfew for freshmen who are participating in the recruitment process, commonly called rushing. First-years will be expected to sign into their dorm with their Residential Advisor, the proposal suggests, who will check if they are sober.

In the past, fraternities “contacted” freshmen in their dorms on two occasions in the evening around 7 – 9 p.m., but the IFC proposed to push those later into the night to encourage freshmen to stay in their dorms instead of attending parties afterwards, Gonzalez said. Other proposals, which will be released in full in the next few days, also mandated fraternities register all night events and that potential new members abide by a curfew which will be set by IFC.

The purpose of a curfew is to prevent fraternity chapters from inviting potential new members for late-night events; violation of the curfew could result in loss of recruitment eligibility, Gonzalez said. The IFC president said that he would be in talks with residential life staff in the upcoming days to assess the plan’s feasibility and implementation.

While the reforms are fairly unprecedented, Gonzalez said he’s received mainly positive feedback.

“They’ve found that these have been the necessary steps … in order to create a more safe environment for everything,” Gonzalez said. “They feel that everything’s at stake.”

President Martha Pollack

President Martha Pollack

Tuesday’s resolution is the latest in a string of reform attempts by the IFC, and was approved hours after President Martha Pollack promised to announce Greek Like reforms by the end of the semester.

After the death of first-year Antonio Tsialas ’23, the IFC rolled out a range of reforms. Tsialas, whose death is currently under investigation, was last seen at a fraternity party on Oct. 24, before his body was found in a gorge on Oct. 26. Since then, the IFC first banned most social events this semester, and then announced stepwise changes of fraternity party culture and of the recruitment process.

“The way we’ve been tackling the reform is trying to be as comprehensive as we can and tackle as many parts of Greek Life as we can,” Gonzalez said.

The University has also taken some action. Cornell suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Nov. 8, and President Pollack condemned a “pattern of misconduct” in the Greek Life system in a statement the same day. In a campus-wide email on Tuesday morning, President Pollack restated that the fraternity had served alcohol in the presence of first year students, and that the unregulated party on Oct. 24 happened the day after the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had attended a judicial hearing on other matters.

In her Tuesday morning statement, Pollack said that she would announce meaningful reforms by the end of the semester after what she called a “continuing and disturbing pattern of activity that violates our policies and threatens the health and safety of our students.” In the past year and a half, she wrote, Cornell has suspended six Greek Life organizations.

In the spring, Cornell suspended the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity for hazing and event management violations, and the Lambda Chi Alpha and Delta Chi fraternities for hazing. This semester, among fraternities under IFC jurisdiction, Cornell has found Alpha Gamma Rho and Phi Sigma Kappa responsible for hazing; the University placed both groups under probationary recognition.

The IFC will release the full text of the resolution in the coming days.

The IFC president’s name has been corrected.