Student Affairs said it wants to make sure new members of the Greek community have a residential experience next academic year, as the university plans to have all freshman and sophomore students live in residential housing with residential advisers.
Michael Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs, said the university is still working to make sure Greek organizations don’t schedule chapter programs on Tuesdays so that the residential advisers will have a day where all Greek students would be available, though sororities and fraternities have been required to do this since the beginning of the semester.
“We want to have at least one night that can be used by the resident faculty and professional and student staff to conduct programs without worrying about students having to participate in mandatory programs in chapter houses,” Jackson said in an email.
Interfraternity Council President Pat Lauer said not having social events on Tuesdays this semester has helped integrate the freshman and sophomore members of the Greek community so they can contribute to other campus activities more effectively.
“[Not having events on Tuesday] is the norm now and it’s a good thing,” Lauer said. “It’s given the younger guys a chance to branch out and do things they normally wouldn’t have done and participate in campus activities they normally wouldn’t have participated in.”
Despite beginning the semester with a social probation, the Greek community has grown stronger in several other ways, Jackson said. The Greek community has focused on new member education as most fraternity and sorority chapters have had 100 percent of their new members complete GreekLifeEdu, an online course for the Greek community similar to AlcoholEdu, according to Jackson.
“We have made sound progress,” Jackson said. “It is important to remember that working with the Greek community is always a work in progress as almost 25 percent of the membership turns over each year, so leadership development, transition of leadership from one set of leaders to another and new member education are incredibly important to all chapters and systems.”
Lauer said IFC and Panhellenic Council will continue to work to improve the Greek community by focusing on its new members.
“We realized that if we want to effect change we have to start from the ground up,” Lauer said. “That’s why we focused a lot of programming with the new members, the freshmen and the sophomores, who will carry on our legacies. There has been a huge focus to foster more activities so we contribute more constructively with the university.”
Jackson said the new member retreat, held in September, will be offered to those in the Multicultural Greek Council and National Panhellenic Council chapters next year and that there are also plans to develop an assessment tool to better understand the overall experience of students in Greek organizations. The retreat was created in response to the social prohibition, because it was implemented after negative events concerning the image of the Greek community.
Student Affairs and Greek organizations both said the changes to the Greek community rely on continuous communication and support.
“Groups know that their destiny is, for the most part, in their hands,” Jackson said in an email. “The systems and chapters have the ability to set standards of behavior and hold members accountable, The university wants strong groups that provide thoughtful and caring educational, personal and professional development experiences and encourage members to take advantage of the vast array of resources at USC.“