Interfraternity Council President and Senior Kelley Gunn released an email announcing the suspension of social events for Greek life on March 8th. Photo courtesy of Aly Rincon.
By Greyson Scudder
On Wednesday, March 8, Interfraternity Council President Kelley Gunn, a senior, sent out a campus-wide email, announcing the suspension of all social events put on by Greek life for the remainder of Spring 2017. This includes all swaps, a non-alcoholic social gathering between a fraternity and sorority, and registered parties, but still allows off-campus events, such as formals, and on-campus philanthropy events. According to Gunn’s email, this decision came as a result of discussing the weekends of Feb. 11 (the weekend of Bubble Party, where there was a violent altercation between a Millsaps student and a visitor from off-campus), Mar. 4 (the weekend of Spring Parties, when an incriminating video of one of the fraternities featuring alcohol was released), as well as events from Fall 2016.
Gunn said that many of the policies and rules that have been set forth by both IFC and campus administration, which all fraternities have agreed to, have been broken or not adhered to. However, he was not willing to discuss the actual events that led to the suspension in detail.
“There has been an attempt from IFC, Panhellenic, and Student Life to try to mediate a response between whatever administration and the fraternities [want], and we have not gotten the response we had hoped for,” Gunn said.
The suspension is partly a punishment, but Gunn hopes to use the time as a reflecting and educating period for Greek life, but especially for the fraternities. Will Takewell, director of campus life, agreed.
“IFC is realizing that [they] have to do a lot more work to educate [fraternity] members, on what the policies…and the procedures are,” Takewell said.
While IFC and administrators feel that the suspension is necessary, not all students share that sentiment. Campbell Cooke, a freshman transfer student that came to Millsaps in January, is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. “[The suspension] prevents you from getting to experience the joys of Greek life, and (from getting) to form those bonds with other people on campus,” Cooke said.
Part of the problem, according to both Gunn and Takewell, is that fraternity members do not realize that most, if not all, of the responsibility for being safe falls on them. Gunn said that most fraternity members are upstanding students and brothers, but a very small minority of fraternity members ignore the rules and policies, such as those that prevent underage drinking or drug use, that create unsafe environments.
“Ninety-five percent of people in chapters, men and women, do the right thing; it’s the five percent that mess things up.” Gunn said.
Putting a freeze on social events for Greek life is only the beginning. Part of the issue is that several of the events in question do not apply directly to the current policies of the IFC Greek Conduct Board, which oversees cases of fraternities breaking rules set forth by IFC, or the current IFC bylaws. This means that things are happening that are not condoned by IFC, but there is not a precedent to deal with these issues specifically. As a result, the first step for IFC is to amend their bylaws during the suspension.
“In the past, we say there could be issues with alcohol or drugs or other behaviors, but there’s no standard to go off of right now,” Gunn said.
Jane Marie-Sullivan, a freshman member of Phi Mu sorority, felt that the suspension would not prevent the use of alcohol or drugs.
“I personally believe it is a negative idea…because more kids are going to venture off-campus,” she said. “And they’re going to want to do other things, which can lead to drinking and driving.”
Now, the education process begins. This will include training in the form of sessions for Greek members about policies, such as why they are in place and which policies apply to fraternities and sororities. The first attempt at educating fraternities is IFC’s Walk-a-Mile event they will put on in April, which will consist of fraternities doing a lap around the Bowl while stopping at checkpoints where they will team up with sororities learn statistics about sexual misconduct. Much larger group education programming is set to begin in the fall of 2017.
“We’re planning on starting a GAMMA chapter, which is Greeks Against the Mismanagement of Alcohol, so we’re going to have…an educating week,” said Gunn. “Where we’ll have alcohol education, we’ll have programming, and it’s going to sum up with some sort of speaker and an all-Greek philanthropy event.” This event will take place sometime in the fall, and will be a requirement for fraternities and sororities to participate.
The focus of these events and continued education is to put an end to dangerous situations by making fraternity and sorority women more aware of the possibility of such situations. As Kelley said, despite being in different chapters, all of Greek life is in the same boat. It is the hope of IFC that through this educating process, Greek Life at Millsaps can move past this year’s problems.