Interfraternity council changes social policies

Photo of the Sigma Nu Fraternity House blocked off by a gate saying "No trespassing." The house has writing on the outside that has been sprayed over in black writing.
Multiple reports of sexual assault and drugging from fraternities last Fall resulted in mass student protests. (Jenna Peterson | Daily Trojan)

Content warning: This article contains references to sexual assault and violence.

The Working Group on Interfraternity Council Culture, Prevention, and Accountability released recommendations to resume Interfraternity Council activities Tuesday, including a phased return to social gatherings, heightened event planning enforcement and greater University oversight over fraternity sexual assault and harassment trainings.

Zukoski announced the working group Nov. 11 after the University suspended IFC social activities due to multiple reports of sexual assault and drugging at fraternities and mass student protests last fall, promising to make recommendations allowing for fraternities’ return, reviewing IFC recognition and “tackling the broader issues of sexual assault and misconduct.” The group was initially expected to deliver recommendations by Dec. 17.

Around two hours before releasing the working group’s recommendations, Senior Vice President of Human Resources Felicia Washington sent a communitywide email regarding Title IX policy changes at USC.

The University also announced four fraternities’ interim suspensions and one’s modified suspension, pending Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX investigations. Chi Phi Eta Delta, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Nu are all on interim suspension, and Kappa Sigma is on a modified suspension — meaning that it can hold recruitment but no further social activities — according to the USC Student Affairs website. The Daily Trojan previously reported sexual assault allegations at Sigma Nu, Zeta Beta Tau, Phi Kappa Tau and Chi Phi Eta Delta.

Fraternities not currently under interim suspension, including Kappa Sigma, will begin spring rush Friday with the condition that all events are alcohol-free. If they remain in compliance with University guidelines, a limited number of social events will be permitted as of Feb. 3 before full returns are allowed March 3. 

The University will require all fraternity members to complete USC’s mandatory sexual assault trainings in order for the fraternitites to resume social gatherings. The training is already mandatory for students regardless of IFC involvement, though the University will now ensure fraternity members are compliant in order for social activities to continue. 

The University will continue working with the suspended fraternities to ensure that they complete the same prevention training requirements, said interim Vice President for Student Affairs Monique Allard in an interview with the Daily Trojan.

“To be eligible to even open recruitment, you need to be not on suspension, so those who are currently on suspension are not eligible to open for recruitment,” Allard said. “But we will still be working closely with them to make sure that they’re doing the prevention education and doing all the things that we think are still positive movements forward.”

The IFC Risk Team will expand to include students unaffiliated with IFC, including student leaders and University officials from a variety of departments, such as the Department of Public Safety and Fire Safety & Emergency Planning. The risk team will be required to inspect events to “ensure chapters adhere to event policies,” although Allard said the standards used by the team to inspect events are still being worked out. The risk team will first meet Jan. 31, three days before social activities will be permitted for fraternities in compliance with the guidelines. 

The University will increase security oversight at fraternity parties, requiring security at stairs and hallways leading to bedrooms, and work with IFC to select security vendors for events. Though fraternity parties previously required security, the University plans to “work more closely” with IFC to ensure rules are followed. Chapters are required to pay for security at social events, but the University will communicate with IFC and DPS to look specifically at security companies and safety expectations, Allard said.

The University will also work “much more closely” with IFC to create pre-event plans and post-event risk assessments. While the risk assessments were previously conducted informally, University advisors will now “sit down and comb through them [and] dive into them a little deeper,” Allard said.

Student Affairs will hire a compliance coordinator that will report to the associate vice provost of Student Development and Engagement who will be responsible for overseeing compliance with new guidelines. Though Allard said there is no current timetable on the hire, she hopes it will be “as soon as possible.” The working group will continue meeting throughout the semester to discuss the plan’s details and implementation.

“We’re looking at policy and the conduct code around group responsibility, alcohol policy and so much more,” Allard said. “So there’s a lot of work we’re going to dig into so much deeper in the semester as well.”