IFC addresses Greek life action plan at SGB meeting


Thomas J. Yang

Board member Ian Callahan discusses last weekend’s TEDx University of Pittsburgh event. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Visual Editor)

By Madeline Gavatorta | Staff Writer

Pitt’s Interfraternity Council president, Christian Baker, spoke about a working action plan that was recently released for Greek life at Tuesday’s Student Government Board meeting.

Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner released the document Monday in response to two incidents during the spring 2018 semester involving Greek life. The first, in January, involved the fraternity Sigma Chi. The frat held an off-campus recruitment event that led to a student being hospitalized for excessive drinking, causing the fraternity to be put on interim suspension and all of Greek life banned from serving alcohol at events.

More recently, the sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha was suspended after alleged hazing involving a dozen pledges in February.

The plan includes several policies for review. These include conducting an external review of fraternity and sorority life at Pitt by third-party consultants, banning hard liquor at any event and developing a University-wide committee to address hazing and concerning behaviors.

The plan also proposes a limit to one registered event with alcohol per weekend per chapter and a requirement that 10 members from each organization remain sober at events with alcohol. Other proposals include the “utilization of Student Affairs Marketing to highlight community success” and developing confidential hazing reporting methods.

Baker, a senior neuroscience major, said students, including those not in Greek life, can submit input online until April 11. A finalized plan will be drawn up afterward.

SGB discussed other topics of interest to Pitt students with Bonner, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement Kathy Humphrey at a lunch last Friday.  In an interview after the meeting, President Max Kneis said the group had open and honest discussions.

“I think just the concept of us getting to sit down for an hour and 15 with these senior people several times a year showcases how much they value student input and the student voice,” Kneis said after the meeting.

He said they discussed different SGB initiatives such as more extensive medical amnesty policies. SGB wants to change the law to extend immunity to the person experiencing an alcoholic emergency, not just the person calling 911 for help.

“In terms of medical amnesty, we talked about looking to find a concrete model of another state that we think Pitt should be following,” Kneis said

SGB and the administrators also discussed the formation of SGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as its initiative to get more Pitt professors to use Open Educational Resources — low-cost or free resources such as PDFs. The rising cost of rent for students living in South Oakland was also discussed.

More advice and suggestions came at the public meeting from Chabad President Gabriel Kaufman, a junior finance and marketing major, who said the current campus climate wasn’t good for religious Jewish students like himself.

“One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is that Pitt is not a great climate for students who are observant Jews and that’s because Jewish students have a lot of dietary restrictions that they need to follow,” Kaufman said.

He said Market wasn’t good with Kosher foods and suggested ideas such as a Kosher LLC, a Jewish hangout spot and eatery. Kneis was appreciative that Kaufman brought this to SGB’s attention.

“I think that it was a great example of a student using the forum that we have here every week to come share a concern they have on campus and let us, make us aware of it and have us work on it,” Kneis said.

Kneis also congratulated board member Ciara Barry for hosting Women’s Empowerment Week from March 26-30 and board member Ian Callahan for putting together Pitt’s annual TEDx event on Saturday.

WEW hosted 10 events, including a “GAL-A” on Friday, where Provost Patricia Beeson was honored with a painting and an award in her honor, the Patricia E. Beeson Women’s Empowerment Award. Barry said over an email that the award will be given to a member of the Pitt community “who embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship, strength and tenacity, a commitment to women in leadership.”

Looking toward the future, Executive Vice President Zuri Kent-Smith will be hosting a Human Rights Conference April 5 in the Kurtzman Room of the William Pitt Union from 7-9 p.m.

“It’s a hot-button issue right now, given the current political climate with DACA and with the current immigration crisis going on in Europe,” Kent-Smith said.

The board introduced three bills to be voted on next week. The first bill amends and revises student services, the second defines liaisons to conditional committees and the third describes the position of the Student Office of Sustainability Outreach Coordinator and their relationship with SGB.

Facilities, Technology and Transportation Chair James Oosten was absent and excused. There were no allocations supplemental requests last night because SGB was going over budget requests.


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