After lifting the social ban on The Row on Friday, Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson said the first weekend without the social ban went relatively well, despite an incident Friday night.
A female student fell one story onto concrete from an outdoor staircase at the Sigma Chi Fraternity at 6:30 p.m. Friday and was transported to the hospital unconscious but still breathing. Jackson said her condition was stable as of Tuesday.
He said Student Affairs’ investigation of the incident only concerns Sigma Chi.
“We don’t know the full circumstances under which [she] slipped, and believe that it was a small social gathering,” Jackson said. “We’re still trying to ascertain what happened. Of course, our first thoughts go to her and her family.”
Student Affairs will make sure Sigma Chi acted appropriately before and after the incident, and expects to resolve the matter by the end of the week. He said other fraternities had no problems this weekend.
“As far as I can tell, everyone else did what they were supposed to do this weekend,” Jackson said. “It’s ironic that this occurred on the same day that the ban was lifted, but you can’t predict when things will happen.”
The implementation of recommendations from the Greek Task Force, created last year when the social ban began, allowed Jackson to end the ban. The Interfraternity Council also voted to have a dry pre-rush, which Jackson said was successful.
Jackson said working with students to make the Greek community safe is an ongoing process.
“Most of the fraternities and sororities are works in progress,” Jackson said. “We’re always working with new leadership to constantly improve the community.”
The Greek Task Force has implemented two of four objectives. First, they had 250 members of Greek executive boards attend a meeting Aug. 19 with the Dept. of Public Safety about holding large events safely.
“They did an awesome job,” said IFC President Pat Lauer. “We became educated on what to do to keep people safe and how to have big social events in a safe environment.”
Lauer said there are plans for the event to occur annually.
The Greek community is also in the process of creating a Greek Judicial Board for all councils.
Lauer said the council would address incidents like those that occurred last spring.
“Each council has their own ways of dealing with judicial matters,” Lauer said. “This board will be to handle high profile cases that affect the entire Greek community.”
An all-council new-member education program will be also held in coordination with the Office of Student Affairs in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on Sept. 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. New sorority and fraternity members will attend two-hour-long workshops and listen to speakers talk about alcohol and pledging.
“The whole idea is to educate new members of the Greek community,” Lauer said. “It’ll be a time for the community to become familiar with [Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards] and meet DPS so they can get an understanding of how the Greek community is run.”
Ayushi Gummadi, president of the Panhellenic Council, said the goal of the event is to spark a change in Greek culture and prevent dangerous situations, like the drinking that sent some students to the hospital at the beginning of last year.
“Given everything that happened last fall, the idea is to create a culture change,” Gummadi said. “This is something we hope becomes a tradition every year with new members. We’re offering these kinds of education and resources from the beginning in order to create a culture change.”
Risk management teams in each fraternity and sorority house have also worked to establish better communication with law enforcement and review incident protocol.
“We’ve been extra cautious about trying to play by the rules,” Lauer said. “We want to have events in an atmosphere that’s both safe and fun.”
Lauer also said IFC specifically spearheaded a Greek Liaison Program this year where a DPS officer is assigned as a specific point of contact for small groups of houses.
“We’re going to really stress that they meet up regularly and that everyone is in the loop,” Lauer said. “We need to prove that we monitor ourselves and self-govern. This was spotty in the past and there was sometimes an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.”
DPS Chief Carey Drayton said the Greek system’s relationship with DPS is better than most.
“I would stack our relationship with the Greek community with any law enforcement relationship,” Drayton said. “Fraternities asked us to come to their meetings last week. That doesn’t happen in a lot of places.”
Lauer said the IFC is now communicating continuously with DPS.
“All the fraternities are on the same page,” Lauer said. “We’ve all tried really hard to stop our members from doing things that could jeopardize the entire community.”
Andy Winningham, a member of Phi Delta Theta and a senior majoring in business administration, said the communication between enforcement and the Greek community will run more smoothly.
“The Row will just be more fine tuned now that we see the heightened importance of it,” Winningham said. “After what happened last year, houses really had to crack down on risk management.”
Gummadi said that PHC has also seen good things on The Row this weekend.
“All the presidents have been extremely collaborative and everyone’s been respectful of the rules we have in place,” Gummadi said. “We’re looking forward to further collaboration with the university and making this the best year possible.”
Lauer said IFC’s priority is to prove that it has earned the right to monitor itself.
“The biggest thing is to prove that we can self-govern now that the social ban has been lifted,” Lauer said. “We want to avoid any problems like the ones we had last year.”