New recommendations on MU’s Greek system encourage fraternities to self-report hazing incidents and provide guidelines for freshmen living in fraternity houses.
Those were among the recommendations drafted by a group made up mainly of Greek Life representatives and a few MU administrators and professors. The draft comes almost a year after the university commissioned a study from an outside organization on the Greek system.
That study, from Dyad Strategies, blasted how the Office of Greek Life managed fraternities and sororities on campus and suggested banning freshmen from fraternity houses. MU has cracked down on fraternities in recent years for hazing incidents.
The next step is to meet with representatives of the Greek system about the recommendations, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. MU administrators hope they can finalize any recommendations in the next few weeks, Basi said.
If approved, some recommendations would be implemented immediately, he said. Others would be implemented in the fall of 2019.
“We’re in the last steps before final decisions are made,” he said.
One recommendation — based on a University of Kentucky policy — was that fraternity members who report hazing would not be individually charged. Also, chapters that report hazing would be given the opportunity to stop the behavior “without immediate threat” of being charged with violations.
The point is to encourage people who belong to off-campus organizations to work with the university, said Ben Trachtenberg, an MU law professor and former fraternity president at Yale who was one of the 40 people on the task force.
“We don’t want a situation where students involved in these organizations see themselves as opposed to the university,” he said.
Students need to be on board to implement institutional change, he said. One theme he heard from students during the creation of the report was that they want to spearhead the change so they can get buy-in from their rank-and-file members, he said.
Another task force member, Bruce McKinney, former president of the Mizzou Alumni Association Governing Board and the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity Board, agreed with Trachtenberg.
“Students are not tone-deaf to the fact the Greek narrative has challenges,” McKinney said.
Attempts to reach students on the task force were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon.
Another recommendation is to create a system in which freshmen and fraternities would have to meet certain requirements in order to have freshmen live in fraternity houses.
Although the Dyad Strategies report suggested banning freshmen from living in fraternities outright, the task force did not go that far. It called the removal of freshmen “one of the most challenging recommendations in the Dyad report.”
Under the new recommendation, if freshmen want to live in a fraternity house during their first semester on campus, they must have had at least a 3.0 GPA in high school, be enrolled in at least 12 credits at MU and not have committed any violations of university policy during their initiation period.
On the fraternity side, to allow freshmen to live in a Greek house during their first semesters, chapters must have a collective GPA higher than the all-male average or the all-fraternity average, whichever is higher, for the three previous academic semesters. Freshmen fraternity members at MU, on average, have higher GPAs than all freshmen men.
The fraternity must also have a full-time, live-in house director, pass a county safety inspection, have a written diversity plan and be free of alcohol except on certain occasions. It must also not have been found responsible for any hazing incidents in the past 18 months.
It was unclear Tuesday which fraternities would qualify if the recommendation was implemented.
Basi said that if the recommendations are approved in the next few weeks, fraternities would have until fall 2019 to implement them.
During the discussions to create the new report, some of the organizations pushed back on banning freshmen outright, saying living in the fraternity houses was in the best interest of the students, Trachtenberg said.
There was also a financial argument presented, as organizations that own houses need to collect rent, Trachtenberg said.
But the new recommendations to allow freshmen in fraternity houses seemed like a steep hill to climb, he said.
“It’s a pretty onerous list,” Trachtenberg said. “I think it’s a hard standard to meet.”
The long list of requirements to allow freshmen in fraternity houses was meant to “raise the bar” for the Greek system, McKinney said.
“It’s not so ridiculous so no one can qualify,” McKinney said, “and it’s not so lenient so it’s business as usual.”
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