Dean lifts ban on Greek life

Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner and coordinator of Pitt fraternity and sorority life Lexie Elliott announced to a group of about 20 members of Pitt’s Greek life that their modified social probation was being lifted.


(Image via University of Pittsburgh)

By Grant Burgman, News Editor

At a forum in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room Wednesday night, Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner and coordinator of Pitt fraternity and sorority life Lexie Elliott announced to a group of about 20 members of Pitt’s Greek life that their modified social probation was being lifted.

The probation was first implemented in January after a student was hospitalized following an off-campus Sigma Chi recruitment event and prevented fraternities and sororities from hosting or associating with any alcohol-related events. This was followed by another incident in February, when a dozen more students came forward to police with allegations of hazing against sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Bonner announced in April that the modified probation would be lifted once the fall semester started and Pitt finished drafting a thorough community action plan. Pitt intended the plan to keep Greek life safe for students through required training, counseling against hazing and additional safety measures at events with alcohol present. Wednesday night marked the effective lifting of the probation as Bonner announced that the time had come to return responsibility back to the student leaders of the Greek organizations.

“We could play around with this safety blanket for another year, another semester, another couple of months, but that’s all it is,” Bonner said. “At some point, you’re all adults, you’re all leaders, you’re all responsible people and I think reasonable people and you have a responsibility to manage your organizations.”

During an interview in the spring, the president of the Pan-Hellenic Fraternity Council, Ellie Foley, said she thought Bonner’s decision to put Greek life on probation was the appropriate decision.

“What happened was scary, no one wants to get that news,” she said. “I think [Bonner] did what he had to … I think it was incredibly appropriate.”

Every member in the audience was given a copy of the community action plan, which Bonner said was written after meetings with the heads of the Interfraternity Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

“What we have today and what we released a few weeks ago we believe is a strong plan that was created with everyone involved,” Bonner said.

Christian Baker, the president of Pitt’s Interfraternity Council, said in an interview with The Pitt News in the spring that he and the other heads of Greek life at Pitt met to write a proposal for Bonner’s action plan.

“We talked about positives, the negatives, how we can address those things and assessment,” Baker said.

The action plan outlines a set of initiatives, along with a plan for Greek-life assessment and a “Support and Partnerships” section that lays out protocols for managing Greek life on campus.

The plan states that “at all social events with alcohol, the president and risk manager must act as event monitors in addition to one monitor for every 25 people attending.” It also institutes new rules for students that aren’t in a fraternity or sorority but are interested in joining one.

“All students who are interested in fraternity and sorority life are required to attend a Greek 101 session prior to recruitment or intake,” reads the document.

The plan also requires chapters to attend bystander and intervention training and diversity programming. The document lists nine total educational initiatives.

Elliott addressed the crowd briefly to explain the assessment of Greek life organizations that will take place in October. She said Pitt is in the process of hiring three consultants to review Greek life on campus from a third-party perspective.

It’s not to be viewed as punitive or saying ‘this is where you’re not doing well’ or ‘this is where we’re failing,’ but how we’re gonna get better,” Elliott said.

Elliott also said fraternities and sororities would be more transparent in the future.

“Starting on our website this year we’ll be sharing more information about our chapters. So we’ll be releasing our community grade report, so saying what chapters’ average GPAs are,” she said. “We’ll also be looking into releasing conduct records because we want our potential new members, our aspirants, to be making the best investment.”

The final section of the action plan — “Support and Partnerships” — features nine bullet points highlighting methods of managing and policing Greek organizations. One bullet point says to “develop methods for anonymous reporting of hazing and other concerning behavior and actively promote the various methods of reporting.”

Pitt plans to publicly release the full details of the action plan to the public soon.

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