IFC details changes in semester report

The Interfraternity Council released its semester report outlining improvements to Greek life, including an enhanced recruitment process and an emphasis on community involvement.

“In the past 5 to 10 years, USC has gotten more heavy-handed in how they’ve operated judicially,” said Jack Elliott, IFC’s executive vice president of judicial affairs. “We’ve seen that not just with Greek life, but all over the place. A big goal for us was rebuilding relations.”

A Daily Trojan investigation revealed issues between IFC and Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards following a year of USC investigations into hazing allegations and policy misconduct. Issues concerning how SJACS handled investigations and alleged misconduct of judicial proceedings contributed to these problems.

“The relationship between IFC and the University is one of mutual respect,” IFC President Matteo Mendoza said in response to the Daily Trojan article.

Internal changes detailed in IFC’s report include a revised recruitment process involving formal house tours, where interested students meet the members of each house and tour the building, as well as a reframing of the IFC Health and Wellness position to improve the development of IFC members and encourage closer relationships with each new member educator.

Externally, IFC continued discussions with the Office of Equity and Inclusion and other Trojan Greek councils about improving diversity training that addresses race and gender representation and ethics. 

“We’re going to be bringing in some speakers and seminars in the fall to help educate people on [topics] you don’t necessarily [learn] in school,” Elliott said.

Additionally, IFC said it seeks to expand its philanthropic efforts by joining the Panhellenic Council for four service days at Union Rescue Mission, the largest private homeless shelter in the country.

“We wanted to be able to find an opportunity for organized service on a very large scale in the local area,” Mendoza said. “We are trying to more institutionally partner chapters with their national service or philanthropic organization.”

More than 40 members attended each service day. IFC hopes over 100 members attend each session during future service events.

The Daily Trojan investigation also revealed a culture of hazing within Greek life, with a former Sigma Alpha Mu member claiming pledges anticipated being hazed. 

Mendoza said students expecting to be hazed are not joining Greek life for the right reasons.

“Students should not feel as though this idea of hazing is something that they can expect or that is normalized,” Mendoza said.

According to IFC’s Constitution and bylaws, each fraternity must fully comply with state and University hazing policies. Carlos Ascencio, a freshman majoring in biological sciences, said his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, has been very receptive to the recent hazing allegations. 

“[Pi Kappa Alpha] takes [hazing] concerns seriously,” Ascensio said.  “[They] acknowledged that you can go too far and [disrespect the pledges] because of that.”

IFC, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development and the Office of Student Affairs have discussed hazing policy changes and restructuring new member education.

The Office of Student Affairs implemented the fraternity and sorority priority timeline in Spring 2019, which provides guidelines for policy alterations and future applications. 

Alongside general fire and event planning safety changes, the Fraternity and Sorority Safety Priorities outlines summer plans to “start mapping [alcohol and sexual abuse] prevention education for 2019-20 for all five communities” that are slated to take effect next fall. The five communities include the IFC, Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, Asian Greek Council and National Panhellenic Council. 

According to the timeline, these priorities were well-discussed and reviewed. 

With these new changes taking place and an emphasis on new member education and safety, Mendoza believes Greek life is becoming a healthier environment for students.

“Students should feel much safer moving forward,” Mendoza said.