Home Campus After Greek Life’s hazing allegations, the rebuilding process continues

After Greek Life’s hazing allegations, the rebuilding process continues

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In October, Ohio University moved to suspend all Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities after hazing allegations were brought against seven of the 15 IFC fraternities. Since then, campus sororities and fraternities have been trying to rebuild their reputation, and the road to redemption is far from over.

Out of all the IFC fraternities, Phi Delta Theta was the first chapter to have its suspension lifted. To get there, the chapter had to follow the required steps to meet the fulfillments in order to get back to active status, including meeting with Ariel Tarosky, director of Sorority and Fraternity Life (SFL), SFL graduate assistants and completing health and safety meetings and community service hours. 

While its chapter was easily able to clear up any issues, the events in the fall hit Jayden McAdams, who served as the chapter’s president, particularly hard. He felt burnt out and discouraged after many Greek Life chapters were barred from participating in Homecoming, even though other suspended organizations, like the Marching 110, were allowed to participate. 

He was also constantly worried about losing his position in Student Senate and his chapter being reprimanded for the behavior of a member he could not control. 

“Starting with fall, that was probably the lowest point Greek Life on this campus had seen in a very long time,” McAdams said. “I think that we’re really on the upswing now. So after that happened and we were at a very low point, we’re trying to rebuild ourselves as a collaborative overall group of people.” 

At the time, all IFC fraternities, several sororities, a handful of professional fraternities and other student groups like the Marching 110 and the men’s rugby team were all suspended. During the suspension, the fraternities were unable to host events, hold meetings or participate in homecoming events.

Currently, the SFL office publicly lists the conduct statues of all their councils and chapters on its website. There are still several IFC fraternities under disciplinary measure, and several fraternities have ongoing disciplinary probation and suspension. 

According to Carly Leatherwood, senior director of communication services at Ohio U, some disciplined chapters have yet to request their status to be renewed. 

Sigma Pi received a disciplinary expulsion on April 11, 2019, after the death of a freshman pledge. This expulsion came before the mass hazing allegations in fall.

The Office of Community Standards enforces reprimands and suspensions, while the SFL office is responsible for meeting with individual chapters. At the moment, Tarosky is focused on developing new event management procedures and establishing an accreditation program which both sets up minimum expectations for chapters while also helping them strategize for bigger goals. Ultimately, individual chapters are responsible for enforcing rules and keeping updated on their activity.

Since the fall, the office and individual chapters have worked to rebuild from the impact of last semester. A few weeks ago, several Greek Life presidents participated in a several-day retreat to talk about their current concerns. IFC also created its “Together Forward Plan,” a plan to educate new members and to address health and safety. McAdams sees it as a much needed step after the difficulty he and other fraternity leaders went through in fall. 

But many leaders still cannot escape the suspensions and concerns from fall. Both McAdams and Ryan Dawson, Phi Delta Theta’s current chapter president, mentioned that when they travel to conferences, people will still immediately bring up the suspension. 

“I think it’s a bigger optic of the university now we have to live with,” Dawson said. “The first thing people associate us with now is what the school did last semester.” 

Tarosky said for now, many Greek chapters are focused on building strong relationships within the campus community and engaging in community service — including Relay for Life and Bobcathon. The SFL office is also seeking a new assistant director to help with operations. Tarosky is primarily focused on meeting with chapters and keeping up with students’ needs and goals as they work through this transitional period.

“I think with any change, there comes pushback,” Tarosky said. “I’ve been having some really great conversations with our members about how we made a commitment to live our values and to carry ourselves a certain way, so our students have been responding really well to that. So, it’s been easier because we have the purpose of sorority and fraternity behind us. Change never feels great, but it’s actually gone a lot better than I anticipated considering the fall.” 

Leatherwood noted that the university is trying to open up new lines of communication with Greek Life after the fall, and has used the suspensions as an opportunity to talk more about power-based violence. 

Phi Delta Theta is currently organizing events for sexual assault and mental health and placing a big emphasis on community involvement and service. They are also focused on setting a positive example for their new members and working with older members to rebuild a more positive environment. Both McAdams and Dawson want to focus on making their chapter a more positive place and to self-police within their chapter, but they are also aware this will not be easy. 

“It’s going to be challenging because Greek Life did get dragged through the mud, and now we’re trying to do better, but it will be hard to shake the ties some people have made through what happened last semester,” Dawson said. “We’re really trying to do great things, but I don’t know if everyone on campus is going to buy into that. But I think through the coming years we’ll start to get that momentum moving again to where we’re seen as an asset on campus.” 

Echoing McAdams and Dawson’s sentiments, Tarosky also wants others in the Ohio U community to look at Greek Life through a positive lens after the suspensions.

“I just don’t want the story of this sorority and fraternity community to be some of the issues that happened in the fall,” Tarosky said. “We know what happened and we’re going to learn from it. But, I want people to give the community a chance to show all the good that comes from sorority and fraternity life.”

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