The Interfraternity Council announced changes to fraternity lodge events, including new guest list policies, a smaller member to non-member ratio, stricter alcohol policies and a larger risk-management team.
IFC announced the changes Wednesday evening in a statement to the University of Richmond community via email.
“In recent months, national Greek organizations have enacted legislation or reinforced previously adopted risk management guidelines and procedures,” the statement read. “As a result of these decisions, modifications affecting fraternity lodge events are required. Additionally, guests of each lodge event and members will be impacted by these changes.”
Many students were confused by the vague language of the statement, the current president of IFC said. IFC was considering different ways to help make the new changes more transparent, he said.
“I hope there is understanding that we did not make these policies,” the IFC president said. “We could be more strict, but we tried to be as flexible as possible. We’re not trying to be exclusive.”
IFC emailed a document given to members of the fraternity risk-management teams that detailed the updated policies to the campus community on Friday morning, along with the exact legislative policies that were enacted by the national organizations.
A guest list with a capped number of people allowed into the event and new policies regarding alcohol distribution are among the changes coming to fraternity lodge events, according to the document.
The changes apply only to on-campus events with alcohol, the IFC president said. Events without alcohol can follow different rules set out by each chapters’ national organizations, the IFC president said.
Fraternity members will be able to bring three guests each to events. The guest list must be submitted by the Wednesday before weekend events, and the fraternities must keep the lists for four years, according to the document.
Students ages 21 and over will get wristbands with six tabs on them, corresponding to the number of beers an individual student may bring into the fraternity event. Students of legal drinking age will also receive a black ‘x’ written on their hand.
The wristbands will be distributed at lodges. Students under 21 will neither get a wristband nor a black ‘x’ on their hand, according to the document.
Students must drop off their alcohol at the event’s bar and cannot drop off alcohol for a friend, according to the document. Cutoff time to drop alcohol off to the bar is 1 a.m.
The only type of alcohol that students may bring to drop off at the bar is beer. One six-pack of beer may be dropped off per person, and it must be in its original packaging and transported in a plastic bag. No backpacks will be allowed, according to the document.
If a student leaves a lodge and enters another one, the number of cans they have with them must correspond with the number of remaining tabs on their wristband, according to the document.
The number of risk management members at each lodge also must be no fewer than 10 persons per event, according to the document.
All of these changes will go into effect for the first fraternity lodge events, which have been delayed because of Hurricane Florence, the IFC president said.
These rules were designed by the national Greek organizations in response to the number of deaths [tragedies] that occurred last year at fraternity events nationwide, the IFC president said. The University of Richmond had no choice but to implement the updated policies or risk the events being shut down completely by the national organizations, the IFC president said. He emphasized that neither the university nor IFC agreed with the policies but that their hands were tied.
“This is the last thing we ever wanted to do,” the IFC president said. “This is not how we think these events can be made safest. This came from somewhere else.”
In order to help make the transition more smooth and allow for outside comment, the IFC president and Alison Keller, the director for student involvement, met with both student government groups on Wednesday before the statement was released. They explained the updated policy in detail to the members of each student government and allowed for questions about the new policies and their potential impacts.
Westhampton College Government Association senators voiced concern about the potential these policies have to make fraternity lodge events more exclusive and dangerous. There was specific concern that certain groups of students, such as minority groups, would never be put on the guest lists and that others would be put on guest lists only if they met certain expectations. Particularly, senators expressed concern that younger female students will feel pressured into sexual favors to be put on guest lists.
Both Keller and the IFC president said that these were potential issues that IFC was aware of and that they were trying to be as proactive as possible to address the issues before lodge events began.
The IFC president noted that IFC was considering working with Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisers to get guidance on the best way to minimize potential abuse of power by fraternity members with the new policies and that other avenues of campus social life, such as SpiderBoard, would help provide more events that were open and inclusive to everyone.
Keller said members of the Center for Student Involvement were working hard to help revitalize SpiderBoard programming to get people engaged in inclusive activities that weren't necessarily fraternity-sponsored events and that it was vital that WCGA supported it to help it gain popularity in the university community.
“If you don’t like it and you aren’t supporting it, people won’t go, they won’t follow,” Keller said. “They follow women. Men will go where the women will go. If you guys bash it, then we don’t have a chance.”
In terms of the guest list, IFC was still brainstorming ways to make it more inclusive, more effective and safer.
“We’re monitoring this process of getting on the list chapter by chapter,” Keller said at the meeting. “[National Greek organizations] give you all the rules, but they don’t give you any systems to follow.”
Keller also told WCGA members that IFC would be debriefing after the first lodge events to see what did work, what didn’t, what issues arose and how they could best be prevented or minimized in the future. There was a lot of uncertainty on behalf of the IFC around how these new policies would end up playing out.
“We don’t know how this is all going to happen,” Keller said.
Despite the fact that the new rules are stricter than past fraternity policies, the IFC president pointed to what has been seen as an imbalance in Greek life.
“We are being elevated just to the same standards that sororities have been at for a number of years now,” he said.
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