West Virginia University today (Feb. 14) placed an immediate moratorium on all social and recruiting activities of the 16 social and social-professional fraternities comprising the Interfraternity Council, enacting a plan to review and strengthen oversight in the wake of concern over continued behavioral issues.
“We know many students have a great experience in fraternity life, and do the right things – make the right choices and actively engage in philanthropy, service and leadership, but as a system, there are enough concerns that we want to ask the IFC to help us reset,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said.
Under the moratorium, announced at a special meeting of fraternity and sorority representatives Wednesday evening, only basic chapter operations, philanthropic or service activities and brotherhood events will be allowed. The organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Panhellenic Association may operate as usual in the interim.
“We are at a tipping point,” President Gordon Gee said. “We have seen the headlines across the country. We have had a few of our own in recent weeks. I cannot in good conscience as your president, stand by and do nothing.”
The decision comes in the context of a growing national debate over fraternity and sorority life on college campuses, with several institutions banning fraternity and sorority life altogether or tightly restricting their activities.
“We have two paths before us,” Gee said. “One is the path that many of our peers have chosen: Shut down Greek life. Or two, work together as partners – the University, students, alumni and our national leaderships – to create real change. I wish to choose the latter.
“Each of us has the opportunity to change the culture. And in doing so, we are poised to become the national example of how a large, land-grant university can take its mission and align it with the missions of each of your organizations. We can change the national conversation and show that not all fraternity and sorority life communities are created equal – and that we chose to elevate ours to a new level of commitment, academic success and inspired philanthropy.”
Among the immediate actions, in addition to the moratorium, is the raising of academic standards to join a fraternity or sorority from the current 2.5 grade point average to 2.75, gradually increasing to 3.0 by fall of 2020. To remain in good standing, chapter GPA averages must meet the same requirements. Likewise, all new member education activities will be limited to four weeks beginning in the fall 2018 semester.
To conduct the review, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life will establish a working group of students, alumni and national headquarter partners that will be charged with creating a strategic plan of the future Fraternity & Sorority Life at WVU beginning in the fall 2018 semester.
“I am excited to lead the fraternity and sorority community through this process where we reaffirm our organizational values and hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Matthew Richardson said. “I applaud President Gee for his decision to not give up on us. We will be the model community that will go first.”
The group will:
· Review judicial history of all chapters.
· Determine which organizations will be invited back to full recognition in the fall 2018 semester.
· Set short and long-term goals in terms of membership numbers and academic achievement.
· Determine minimum requirements for joining and maintaining membership.
· Identify parameters around new member education and membership intake.
· Review policies and procedures and make necessary revisions.
· Review the Summit Standards Accreditation Program and make necessary revisions.
The resulting strategic plan will be presented to Farris who will present an approved plan to Gee and Provost Joyce McConnell.
“I’m not asking you to do the easy thing. I’m asking you to do the right thing.” said Gee, himself a member of Pi Kappa Alpha national fraternity.
“It is time to rebrand Fraternity and Sorority Life at West Virginia University – and potentially at a national level,” he said. “You have the solutions. You know what needs to be done. But it will take hard work. It will take trust. It will take courageous leadership.
“It will mean holding each other accountable – including the administration and our alumni leaders.”
“We have faith in our student body. We have faith in this University – and we have faith in you,” he said. “We cannot allow West Virginia University to become the next national headline for the wrong reasons. We need to get to work now to change the dynamic.”
The organizations immediately affected are: Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order. Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Chi, Sigma Nu, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Theta Chi.
The organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council (traditionally African-American fraternities and sororities) and the Panhellenic Association (sororities) are not immediately affected, but will adhere to the new community standards beginning in fall 2018.
CONTACT: Corey Farris; Dean of Students