This past Saturday, President Teresa Sullivan announced that she is suspending all Greek activities until January 9. This news was not entirely shocking, as many expected the suspension of the IFC, but many were surprised by the inclusion of all Greek life.This semester, the University of Virginia Office of the Dean of Students for Fraternity and Sorority Life published the Chapter Conduct History
of the entire UVA Greek System, which includes the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Inter-Sorority Council, the National PanHellenic Council, and the Multicultural Greek Council. It lays out issue summaries for each chapter, the academic semester that the proceedings took place, and the disciplinary sanctions or outcomes that resulted.
The act was controversial, as the history record is unspecific and the proceedings for each chapter were supposed to remain confidential. However, it was an attempt for the University to create some transparency and encourage accountability for the actions of each chapter — reforms that they are commonly accused of lacking.
Johns Hopkins University recently banned all open fraternities after a girl reported being raped by two men at a fraternity party. Two weeks ago, West Virginia University suspended all fraternity and sorority life after a freshman was found dead on the floor at a fraternity from an alcohol overdose. These suspensions partly stemmed from outside community pressure on the universities, but were also out of respect for the grieving families and friends of the students.
Now, with UVA under scrutiny for the allegations against Phi Kappa Psi and the administration due to the Rolling Stone article published last week, the University has suspended all Greek life here. While this may seem like a temporary measure to help combat a large, pressing issue of sexual assault and rape on grounds, particularly at fraternity parties, I believe that we need to take major, long-term action that will prove more effective at building accountability and transparency in the Greek system.
While suspending Greek Life is certainly a method to emphasize the message that the University will not stand for such actions, fraternities are still able to find ways to host parties, whether it be at off-grounds satellite houses or other locations. Hopefully, each fraternal organization's chapters will choose to follow the sanction. Although it may be the respectful thing to suspend fraternal organizations out of respect for the UVA community, punishing all chapters for allegations against individual chapters is not the only solution to what remains a pressing issue.
We need to hone in on specific chapters who have been accused of failures to comply with rules by holding University-wide investigations, making public all failures to comply with rules and regulations, and hosting open conversations and debates around grounds about stricter punishments and their methods of enforcement for individual chapters. The University needs to make a stand that it can not and will not, from this point forward, allow such horrible actions in the Greek community to occur under their watch. UVA is not an exception to national chapter rules or federal and local laws, nor should Greek Life members pretend to be.
Without a doubt, the publication of UVA's Chapter Conduct History is just a start to this movement. I eagerly anticipate increased discussion about better, more effective ways to ensure accountability and due punishment for individual chapters than the overall suspension of Greek Life at UVA.