A majority of SEC schools have policies restricting freshmen from living in Greek houses, but MU isn’t one of them.
Of the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference, eight have clear policies that ban freshmen from living in fraternity and sorority houses. Four others prevent them from living in-house in other ways. But MU and Texas A&M are the only ones that let freshmen live in Greek houses the moment they move to campus.
“With regards to freshmen in fraternity houses, yes, MU is an outlier,” said Gentry McCreary, the CEO of Dyad Strategies, who recommended that freshmen be banned from living in MU’s Greek houses. “I am only aware of around a half-dozen campuses nationally that allow freshmen students to live in fraternity houses.”
The original report, which MU commissioned for $22,000 in August, stated non-Greek students fared better academically, but MU’s own data showed, on average, fraternity members had higher GPAs.
The recommendation to ban freshmen from living in Greek houses was also based on “risk management, health and safety (including hazing) issues, as well as a scenario in which most chapters are run by sophomores with upperclassmen generally ‘checking out’ of the fraternity experience,” according to the report.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said no decisions about freshmen living in Greek houses have been made yet.
“We will also be looking in to what is going on nationally related to best practices and then determining what is the best decision for Mizzou’s Greek life system moving forward,” Basi said.
Other SEC school’s policies
At an open forum early last month to discuss the report, McCreary told MU students, alumni and administrators that MU is the only SEC school that allows freshmen to live in Greek houses. When asked in an email how he knew this, he said it was based on his work with other SEC schools.
But Texas A&M, which joined the SEC with MU in 2012, also allows freshmen to live in Greek houses.
“With few exceptions, Texas A&M College Station does not require our students to live on campus,” Jeff Wilson, the associate director of the department of residence life, wrote in an email. “Freshmen students can live in Greek houses, if they choose to do so.”
The University of Kentucky permits freshmen to live in Greek houses during the second semester of their freshman year. But this is rare because during the second semester the chapter houses are often full, according to Kentucky’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. This is because students sign one-year leases for the full academic term.
At Louisiana State University, freshmen are allowed to live in Greek houses during the second semester — if they meet certain requirements. One of which requires that freshmen living in the house cannot exceed 20 percent of the total house capacity. The student also must have a minimum 2.25 GPA.
In the past few months, LSU has been cracking down on Greek life in the wake of a fraternity pledge’s death. Some chapters are in good standing with the university, while others are suspended or have been kicked off campus.
Some SEC schools don’t have clear policies restricting freshmen from living in Greek houses but hold recruitment a few weeks into the semester. This somewhat prevents freshmen from moving into chapter houses before classes start.
The University of Florida does not have a regulation that bans first year students from living in sorority or fraternity houses, said Sara Tanner, the director of marketing and communications for the division of student affairs.
However, it is very rare that freshmen live in Greek houses, she said.
“We recruit for both sororities and fraternities at the beginning of the fall semester,” she said. “By this time, first year admitted students will already have other living arrangements.”
Auburn University also does not have a policy restricting freshmen from living in Greek houses. Like Florida, its fraternity recruitment is not until after school has commenced so there are never freshmen living in fraternity houses, said Jill Martin, Auburn’s director of Greek life.
However, freshmen can move in to Greek houses if they aren’t happy in the dorms, she said.
“On occasion, there may be a fall new member who is unhappy in his living situation and he will move into the house between fall and spring semester,” Martin said. “But that is very uncommon.”
This year at MU, the Interfraternity Council held formal recruitment from June 23-25 and the Panhellenic Association held formal recruitment from August 13-20. This allows some freshmen to choose to move into fraternity houses before classes start.
Moving forward at MU
McCreary has reassured the MU community that restricting freshmen from living in Greek houses was just a recommendation and ultimately the university will make the decision in the coming months.
“At the end of the day, my role is not to implement policies,” McCreary said. “But to help the university identify areas of risk and to help develop and implement strategies aimed at mitigating or eliminating those risks.”
Basi said that MU administrators are making sure that good, open and honest discussions are happening with everyone involved before the university starts making decisions in areas that some people are very passionate about, such as residential policies.
Matthew Oxendale, the spokesman for the MU Interfraternity Council, said that a change in policy regarding the recommendation to ban freshmen from living in Greek houses has yet to be made by MU.
“Administrators from the University have assured us that members of the IFC community, along with other stakeholders, will get an opportunity to voice concerns about this recommendation before any changes are made,” Oxendale wrote in an email. “We trust that those making these decisions will take our feedback and use it constructively in making any final decisions.”