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UT task force recommends Greek life changes

6:37 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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A task force formed to improve fraternity and sorority life on the UT campus has released its final report.

The group, made up of alumni, students, faculty, and staff, was formed last fall when the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was suspended for an alleged alcohol enema incident.  The task force was asked to review Greek life on campus and make recommendations for improving a personal sense of responsibility among members and enhancing the chapters' contributions to campus life. 

"What we want to do is figure out the best strategy for keeping students focused on their reason for being here," said Jeff Cathey, associate dean of students at UT.  "I think there are a lot of students out there who are welcoming this and are embracing some additional direction. Obviously, there may be those who may not embrace it as much.  At the end of the day, perhaps this is not an experience for them."

The group focused on the positive as well as the negative, pointing out that fraternities and sororities were responsible for half a million dollars in charitable donations last year and 75,000 hours of outreach service, the report notes.

They presented several recommendations for improvement:

 

A copy of the report can be found online at http://tiny.utk.edu/task-force.

  • Adopt re-education programs about the expectation of conduct and positive core values, hazing, risk management and the harmful consequences of alcohol and substance abuse through required training at multiple levels within the fraternities and sororities.

  • Improve house management with the addition of a full-time live-in adult house director and a qualified financial adviser. Currently, only sororities have full-time, live-in adult house directors.  

  • Expand the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life's Standards of Excellence program to make all activities, positive and negative, of each fraternity and sorority chapter available to potential members and their parents. This could include GPA by class, number of judicial chapter incidents, total cost of membership by semester and completion of required training by members.
  • Adopt an amnesty or Good Samaritan policy across campus in which any student who assists and seeks aid for another intoxicated person would not face formal charges by the university. Many universities have similar policies which have the goal of eliminating any possible impediment to getting students in serious medical distress the help they need. This policy would need to be approved by the Board of Trustees and the state legislature.

  • Convene a commission to review the effectiveness, speed and clarity of disciplinary procedures against students and student organizations.

  • Implement mandatory meetings for elected chapter leaders, advisers and university administrators to discuss issues of concern.

The university is considering the recommendations and will involve fraternity and sorority chapters in discussions.

"We appreciate the hard work and thoughtful consideration of the task force," Rogers said. "They have provided a framework for making positive changes which we will begin reviewing with key groups."

The university says it is considering the recommendations and will involve fraternity and sorority chapters in discussions.

"We appreciate the hard work and thoughtful consideration of the task force," Rogers said. "They have provided a framework for making positive changes which we will begin reviewing with key groups."

There are 26 fraternities and 19 sororities on campus.

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