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WVU Statement regarding creation of the Fraternity Forward Coalition

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West Virginia University Thursday (May 21) issued the following statement on the establishment of a coalition that urges fraternities to separate from university governance:

When five fraternities walked away from West Virginia University governance in the fall of 2018, the University was clear in its position that it was an unwise move. That has not changed, and the institution reiterates the position today in condemning the action by a group of fraternities, including three of the disaffiliated ones at WVU, in creating a group they have labeled “Fraternity Forward Coalition.”

The coalition asserts that local, university oversight of fraternities is unnecessary and infringes on their right to assemble. That assertion is unfounded and untrue. Guidelines have been implemented to keep students safe from hazing, alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and other dangerous behaviors that had been occurring in some fraternal organizations. The national headquarters are not local and cannot monitor behavior. University oversight provides measures to allow fraternal organizations to assemble – safely.

West Virginia University joins with the parents of students who have died due to hazing or other fraternity activities and are speaking out against the coalition.

WVU echoes Kim and T.J. Burch, parents of WVU freshman Nolan Burch who died in an unauthorized fraternity hazing event in 2014, who said, “We are saddened that the leadership of these fraternities has decided to support such reckless behavior and we are fearful of the potential outcome of this action taken by them. This decision is a slap in our face and only proves that some continue to choose financial interests (veiled in a call for the defense of “Constitutional Rights”) over the safety of others.”

West Virginia University released the WouldYou? Campaign to encourage bystander intervention in student settings as a direct result of a partnership built between the university and the Burch family. Many national fraternities have engaged our resources and tool kit for the WouldYou? Campaign and have put Nolan’s legacy into action. For this Coalition to cite a concern for health and safety of students yet antagonize institutions by making bold statements threatening their support for disaffiliation is counter to the partnership these organizations state they value.

West Virginia University continues to believe that responsible operation of fraternity and sorority life is an important part of the college experience. It can benefit its participants in many ways, both during college and beyond.

We urge parents and students who are considering joining a fraternal organization to carefully research and understand where that organization stands on this issue.



CONTACT: University Relations

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