Call on USF to Delay Greek Recruitment After Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
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The following letter has been drafted by alumni of Panhellenic and IFC organizations at USF. We are aware that sexual misconduct extends beyond Panhellenic and IFC, and beyond Greek life as a whole. We invite alumni and active members of all Greek councils to examine the Greek system for any policies and procedures that make allow for sexual misconduct to go unreported or unpunished within our communities. The people who drafted this letter experienced collegiate life through these organizations, and many of us suffered at the hands of members of Panhellenic and IFC. We stand with alumni and survivors of other councils and encourage them to speak up. Though some of the statements below are targeted to specific councils, collaboration through the entire Greek system is needed for true reform.
As alumni of Greek life at the University of South Florida we are horrified by the stories of the women and men who have come forward on social media to tell their stories of abuse at the hands of their fellow Greeks. The stories have illustrated a widespread failure within Panhellenic and IFC to protect its members. We as alumni cannot sit by while the Greek system at USF continues to turn a blind eye to the predators that use fraternity and sorority life to harm others. We call for an immediate postponement of recruitment and chapter expansion for both Panhellenic and IFC until drastic steps are taken to ensure the safety of its members. This is not to punish the group as a whole. This is because we cannot stand to see Greek life advertised as the best four years of one’s life while also knowing that new members are joining a system that will not support them if they are assaulted. Before recruitment or chapter expansion can be allowed to continue, we propose the following changes to IFC fraternities and Panhellenic sororities at USF.
1. The creation of a council that includes members of all Greek councils, but works outside of the current governing bodies to examine data on sexual assault within our community, host trainings, distribute educational materials, and pressure organizations to hold those guilty accountable. The responsibilities of this council would include:
- The creation of an anonymous portal for members of any fraternity or sorority, regardless of council, to report misconduct by their brothers and sisters without fear of retribution.
- Overseeing documentation of any and all claims made against members of any Greek organization in order to determine patterns of abuse.
- Overseeing membership review for all organizations.
- To hold semesterly trainings for each organization that thoroughly cover title IX, LGBTQ inclusive assault resources, sexual health, consent, and statistics about false reporting. The attendance for these trainings should be monitored by this new council, not the independent organizations. Chapters with less than 95% compliance will be put on social probation until the next training. It has been made very clear through the stories coming through on Twitter that a main barrier to people reporting assult is that they are made to believe that what happened to them doesn’t count as assault or rape because they were drunk or it only went “so far.” We need community wide training on the fact that any persistent, unwanted physical advances can be considered assault.
- To ensure that each organization includes comprehensive training on title IX, resources, sexual health, and consent in their new member programs.
We also want to see each organization come up with a concrete plan on how they will handle claims of assault from their members, as well as claims of assault against their members. These plans should be submitted to the council for review.
2. We want to address the gross double standards between the treatment of IFC men and Panhellenic women. Panhellenic women are under much stricter regulations by their chapters, especially regarding alcohol. These rules allow fraternities on and off campus to control underage drinking and leave women vulnerable by pushing those who will engage in such activities towards these men out of fear of retribution from their own organizations. There is no reason that fraternities should be allowed to throw parties on campus. We demand an immediate review of the policies between IFC and Panhellenic and an end to the double standards. USF has the power to impose stricter standards of behavior on fraternity men where their national council’s guidelines lapse.
3. We call for an immediate ban on unofficial off-campus IFC housing. Sororities operate under strict rules regarding housing having to be on campus. Fraternities are under no such rules and are able to throw up letters on apartment buildings that are not monitored by USF and operate outside the system. These unofficial houses become hot beds for assault that are outside of the USFPD’s jurisdiction. We ask that fraternities be given the same opportunity as sororities to have on campus housing. If there are no houses available in Greek village there’s a precedent for Panhellenic sororities to be given a floor of a dorm building to operate as a house. If there’s no room in Greek village this option should be offered to fraternities. If they turn it down they should not be allowed to set up their own house wherever they want.
4. We call for an immediate five-year limit on Greek membership. It has become common practice for members of Greek life, particularly IFC men, to push off graduation in order to remain in their Greek organization. This practice allows men reaching their mid to late 20s to continue to have access to women who have just turned 18. It prevents turnover in and allows predators to linger and continue to take advantage of students.
5. We call for the immediate implementation of a zero tolerance policy by that includes sharing explicit images, discussing sexual assault without reporting it, homophobia, sexism, and racism. It has become apparent in the recent outpouring on Twitter that there were text message chains that describe IFC men bragging to others about sexual conquest and exchanging lewd images without consent of those pictured. If these members had been ousted when the texts were first brought to light women could have been saved from assault. Any chapter that neglects to hold its members accountable should be immediately suspended until the guilty parties are removed.
6. We call for a review of how IFC conducts recruitment. While the majority of Panhellenic women go through the vigorous process of formal recruitment and a small number go through informal COB recruitment, in IFC the numbers are split more evenly. Informal recruitment allows fraternities to recruit men through parties, drinking, and drugs without regulation from USF. The men recruited through COB recruitment are also not given the training seminars on hazing and sexual assault at the beginning of formal recruitment. We ask that USF look at closing this loophole in the COB system by imposing stricter regulations on how IFC conducts informal recruitment.
7. We called for the creation of an oversight committee composed of non-Greek affiliated alumni, faculty, and students to oversee the OFSL and ensure that all organizations are being held to the same standards. There is a precedent for the OFSL to show favoritism towards some organizations while turning a blind eye to misconduct. An unbiased oversight committee must be created in order to ensure that new rules and regulations are being implemented fairly across all Greek organizations.
8. We ask that anyone who is removed from a Greek organization be barred from joining any other Greek organization across all councils, even if they are ousted before initiation.
9. Anyone with a conviction or an outstanding legal battle related to sexual assault, drugs, harassment, or battery should be immediately disqualified from going through recruitment for any organization. Anyone with a restraining order should also be removed from consideration for recruitment. Any arrest while active should result in immediate suspension of that individual until their case is resolved. If found guilty of a crime, they should be immediately expelled from their organization.
This is not a comprehensive list. This is not what will end sexual assault within the Greek community. This is what we as alumni think may help. We believe it is irresponsible for USF to continue with recruitment before implementing these policies and taking further action. The double standards, the shaming, and the silencing have to stop. We have been reading stories from alumni going back years that this behavior has not changed. We cannot stand by what Greek life continues to harm its members through silence. If sweeping change is not enacted within the Greek community it is hard to fathom a future in which it exists. It would sadden us greatly to see Greek life disappear, but if it is destroyed because of complacency, apathy, or lack of action, then it would be better for it to be eliminated. We cannot continue to support a system that victimizes its members. We stand with those who spoken out about assault and with those who hold their stories in their hearts. We hope to see the Greek community at USF move forward to become a place of support as it was meant to be.
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