Fraternities Committed to Safety (FCS), a policy which provided guidelines for internal accountability among campus fraternities, appeared to be a step in the right direction towards reducing sexual assault and producing a safer campus when it was first adopted by campus fraternities last quarter. However, the signing fraternities’ recent failure to address and respond to many of the violations reported by the Phoenix Survivors Alliance (PSA) reveals the policy to be a hollow solution.
The Maroon Editorial Board ultimately believes that we should follow our peer institutions—including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northwestern University—and establish an Interfraternity Council (IFC). This council, composed of elected fraternity members, would be the governing body responsible for overseeing fraternities. It would be recognized by the University, which would have the ability to sanction fraternities that fail to meet its guidelines, avoiding the drawbacks of fraternity self-regulation and consequently hold Greek Life accountable to their commitment to a safer campus. Such a council would require active university participation, including recognition of fraternities. Until an IFC is established, there should still be some measures in place to keep fraternities accountable for their role in creating a safer campus. As a result, in the interim, there are changes that can be made to FCS to substantially improve its credibility and effectiveness.
FCS currently misses the mark in three crucial respects: it is entirely self-enforced, reported violations could remain unaddressed for weeks (Section V, Article C of FCS policy states that reports only need to be reviewed on a monthly basis), and it doesn’t require transparency with the student body.
These unresolved ambiguities began to pose a problem for FCS when Phoenix Survivors Alliance, an RSO advocating for survivors of sexual violence, conducted fraternity party assessment visits on the nights of February 18, March 1, and March 31.
In response to these assessments, PSA reported a series of alleged FCS violations, both privately through the FCS website and publicly via its Facebook page. According to PSA, some of the violations were swiftly addressed; other reports received no response and remained unresolved.
During the April 9 re-signing meeting, some fraternity heads apologized for previous infractions while others explained their fraternities’ behavior. Nonetheless, the FCS board was reluctant to entertain PSA’s recommendations, deferring them for a revision meeting in two weeks. The decision to prioritize a unanimous re-signing of FCS above thoroughly addressing infractions proves, yet again, that self-regulation is ineffective and disingenuous.
The very fact that PSA has taken it upon itself to report on fraternity-hosted social events and publicize these allegations points to the need for external regulation, should FCS wish to uphold its own standards of accountability and transparency. However, the onus of regulation should never have to fall on those who have survived sexual violence, or those who advocate on behalf of victims.
As mentioned, the University is poised to be the most effective regulatory entity when it comes to campus fraternities, but they are unlikely to assume that role anytime soon—which leaves us with FCS. However, because the policy’s current incarnation has proven to be troublingly ineffective, the Maroon Editorial Board urges FCS signatories to consider the following revisions to the document:
Review reports as they are filed, not monthly. Under the current FCS, violation reports could go unaddressed for weeks at a time—which, according to PSA, they have.
Use FCS’s website to make public announcements stating previous policy violations, the date of submission, and the date of rectification. As it currently stands, FCS is only explicitly responsible for announcing when the document has been re-signed each quarter. If FCS was completely transparent about fraternities’ individual track records—their history of violations and efficiency in addressing them—students could draw their own conclusions rather than blindly accept the takeaways of FCS’s quarterly renewal meeting.
Procure a third-party entity outside of Greek life to review and enforce the standards set forth by FCS. Fraternities should actively pursue students not affiliated with Greek Life interested in forming a task force to complete random inspections of fraternity parties in order to ensure FCS compliance.
Widely publicize the time and date of the quarterly re-signing. PSA had to email fraternity presidents several times to find out the time and date of the quarterly re-signing. In the future, these meetings should be widely publicly advertised ahead of time, and FCS signatories should consider publishing minutes of their proceedings. Fraternities should use the quarterly re-signing as an opportunity to solicit input from the broader University community.
These suggestions are, for the most part, in line with some of PSA’s own recommendations, which FCS signatories should consider implementing in full.
Let’s assume FCS is a good-faith effort toward a safer campus. But, unless fraternities demonstrate over the next few weeks that they’re willing to put in the hard work to implement these changes, FCS will inevitably devolve into a toothless publicity exercise.
Patrick Lou recused himself from the writing of this editorial due to his membership in an FCS fraternity.