KU greek life task force submits recommendations to the chancellor

photo by: Chris Conde

Strong Hall on the University of Kansas campus is shown on Sept. 13, 2018.

A task force that examined greek life at the University of Kansas has recommended that the chancellor reinstitute Friday morning classes in all KU schools and create a partnership aimed at uniting the greek organizations with the greater community.

In a public message published on Friday, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod shared these and other recommendations of the Sorority and Fraternity Life Task Force — established in November 2018 — with the KU community.

Girod, in his message, and the task force, in its recommendations, were steadfast in their support of greek life, despite national scrutiny regarding hazing and substance abuse within fraternities and sororities on college campuses.

“As I said when we launched the task force, our goal is to ensure that a strong sorority and fraternity system continues to be a valuable part of the student experience — and the task force’s recommendations are a great first step toward that goal,” Girod wrote. The 27-member task force consists of students, parents, alumni, housing corporation representatives, advisers, university administrators and staff.

The group directed its recommendations toward three groups: the greek community at large, the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Association.

In its recommendations for all greek councils, the task force proposed the development of a greek community partnership composed of greek students, alumni, university representatives and representatives from the Lawrence community.

“It should be noted the task force’s primary recommendation for all councils seeks to enhance collaboration and deepen trust among the diverse stakeholders that comprise our Greek community,” Girod wrote in his message. “The truth is, these stakeholders have not always been on the same page, which is largely why we needed to create this task force to begin with.”

In addressing risk management, the task force wrote that it “recognizes that hazing still exists at the University of Kansas, and that the Greek Community must eliminate hazing in fraternities and sororities.”

In fall 2019, documents related to an investigation into the now-suspended Delta Upsilon fraternity revealed that certain fraternity members were urinated on and struck by other members, and others were caught with cocaine at the chapter’s spring break house. Many other details of the fraternity investigation remain hidden to the public.

The task force’s recommendations toward eliminating hazing included forming a group to develop a plan to identify and address hazing within the greek community and provide solutions to address the root causes.

More concretely, the task force recommended the return of Friday morning classes across all disciplines and schools. The group notes this as a strategy for “decreasing the risk of drug and alcohol-related incidents,” presumably assuming that Friday morning classes will deter students from going out on Thursday nights.

Another recommendation by the task force directed to the entire greek community is to develop a greek-specific leadership training program.

In its recommendations to the Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (comprising nine historically black greek organizations), the task force recommended increased funding to go toward a leadership retreat and to send members to chapter-specific conferences.

It also recommended that KU annually sponsor a key event from both organizations, such as the NPHC Step Show, an annual event showcasing step teams from the Lawrence and KU communities.

In its recommendations directed toward the Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Association, the task force recommended the creation of a Sorority and Fraternity Alumni Council “whose mission would be to provide guidance and advice to the undergraduate councils.”

In his message, Girod wrote that he “applauded” the work of the task force.

“As you’ll see, the task force has developed thoughtful recommendations regarding process, policy and best practices to enhance our sorority and fraternity community,” he wrote.

The complete recommendations of the task force can be found online.

Hazing in greek life at KU

In October, the Journal-World reported on a University of Kansas investigation into the now-suspended fraternity Delta Upsilon. Some of the findings made by university officials related to the fraternity raised questions of whether hazing activities crossed the line into criminal activity.

Certain new members of the fraternity were urinated on by others in retaliation for telling KU administrators about acts of hazing, the investigation documents revealed. The investigation also revealed that members of the fraternity were in possession of enough cocaine to draw their greek letters out of the illegal substance at the chapter’s spring break house.

When asked if any of the behaviors reported in the investigation documents were turned over to authorities, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said, “Victims reserve the right to decide whether they want to involve authorities, and so it has not been the university’s practice to report incidents on victims’ behalf.”

As reported on Sunday, other details related to hazing in the fraternity were redacted and hidden from the public view. Peter Lake, a law professor from Stetson University, said he believes the public has valid cause to want to know all details of the hazing.

“I think the public has an interest in knowing if there are people on the campus that present imminent danger to others,” he said.


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