Members of the UNC Board of Trustees say that while they’re encouraged by measures the Interfraternity Council has taken to reform the rush process, they still consider last fall’s changes a first step. Some are concerned about hazing and personal servitude, and there still is talk about moving rush to the spring semester to ease pressure on incoming freshmen.
Rusty Carter ’71, chair of the board’s University Affairs Committee, calls last fall’s changes a step in the right direction. But he said he has heard reports that the blackout periods instituted this year made the rush process seem even longer, and in some cases they were not observed.
“And it still didn’t really address the pledge period following rush,” Carter said, adding that the time commitment required as well as personal servitude activities – doing laundry, cleaning a fraternity brother’s apartment, running errands – remain a concern.
“We know that servitude and hazing is an issue,” said Trustee Paul Fulton ’57, who declined to elaborate. “Servitude more than hazing, but don’t think for a moment hazing isn’t an issue.”
The Interfraternity Council, which governs 21 fraternities, most of which have houses, agreed last year to rush changes targeted at declining membership numbers and increasing concern from parents and others that rush forced freshmen to focus on Greek life before they settle into academic life.
The council approved a new Code of Conduct for Pledge Education and altered the rush schedule and operations. Normal continuous rush, which used to begin the first weekend of school, was replaced last year with a weeklong hiatus and no-event nights Sunday through Wednesday until two days before bid day. The Interfraternity Council also required that rushees register and show proof of having visited at least 50 percent of the IFC fraternities. The Interfraternity Council adopted sanctions, monetary fines and probation for those caught breaking the rules.
Board member Roger Perry ’71 echoed Fulton and said that although he thinks hazing is not a significant problem in the Greek system at large, he believes there is evidence that it still exists in some fraternities. Perry said he thinks a “zero tolerance” policy for hazing is appropriate.
Jim Tatum ’68, chairman of the IFC Alumni Advisers Committee, said the rush schedule will be altered again this fall, including curfew nights in place of blackout dates. The pledge training process has been harder to improve, Tatum said, because it’s done within the fraternity and is meant to be confidential.
Tatum said that personal servitude is an issue in Greek systems at most colleges and universities but that UNC is among the first to address it. “We’re sort of taking on an issue that has grown to be a problem everywhere but hasn’t been dealt with,” he said.
Carter said the policy on and the punishments for hazing and personal servitude will be enumerated in an updated Code of Conduct, which was presented at the trustees meeting in March. Carter said this new version of the code will be signed by each individual IFC fraternity member and will take effect, he hopes, this fall.
He added that the IFC and a subcommittee on pledging are looking into requiring alumni advisers for al chapters.
Shifting rush to the spring has been a consideration for some time due to complaints that fall rush doesn’t give students time to adjust to the University and become involved in academic life. The IFC argued against that change at the March trustees’ meeting, mainly citing that the change would cause financial strain for the fraternities.
Dean Bresciani, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, acknowledged that the Greek system needs improvement but that he is pleased with the initiative. “They’ve been aggressive and critical at looking at themselves and their flaws,” Bresciani said. “It’s really the Greek chapters themselves that have proposed the changes.”
IFC President Walker Rutherford said he has been pleased with the way the IFC has been able to address and develop solutions within the system. “I think it’s a testament to the fact that student governance can work and is working,” he said. “The IFC really did an exemplary job of addressing the issues, giving them consideration and coming up with some serious changes.”