IU fraternities suspend social, new member activities

IU Bloomington (photo courtesy IU Communications)
IU fraternity activities suspended
IU fraternity activities suspended
IU temporarily suspends fraternity activities (noon update)
IU suspends activities for fraternities
No specific incident led to IU frat suspensions
Financial hit of IU frat suspension
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - In the wake of university crackdowns on campuses across the country, fraternities on the IU Bloomington campus took matters into their own hands.

During an emergency meeting Monday night, the Interfraternity Council decided to temporarily ban social functions and unsupervised recruitment events until the end of February.

Eyewitness News is told the vote was unanimous.

On a street lined with fraternity and sorority houses, students didn’t want to talk about it Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t know any information,” said one student as he waited for a bus.

Parties are immediately forbidden and fraternities can’t recruit new members unless supervised by alumni or staff members from the national fraternity.

“I see this as a way out of a situation that could possibly put ourselves in to cause more harm down the road,” said Dan Niersbach, president of the Indiana Student Association.

Niersbach sees the voluntary restrictions as an opportunity for fraternities and the university to work together.

“I would really like to see topics of hazing and sexual assault addressed first because those are two things that affect the system in a public way,” he said.

According to the university, 3 fraternities and 1 sorority were suspended for alcohol, hazing and other issues over a 9 month period. Of the 41 fraternities remaining, 9 are on probation for alcohol violations.

Baylee Alexander, a junior, said she quit going to fraternity parties.

“Some people get assaulted. Some people get drunk and get assaulted that way. A lot of people don’t like taking about it,” she said.

The self-imposed restrictions come on the heels of other universities across the country imposing even more severe sanctions on their fraternities.

IU’s vice provost for student affairs praised the Interfraternity Council.

“I commend the student leaders' decision and desire to create a safer environment for all our students,” Lori Reesor said in a statement

Senior Jeff Miller, a fraternity member, said problems on the Bloomington campus are persistent and extend well beyond the Greek system.

“My question is, what are they going to do? What’s going to be different this time compared to what they’ve tried before?

Miller believes fraternities and other groups may move parties off campus where there are even fewer restrictions to protect students.

The vice provost plans to start meeting with fraternity members next week to discuss problems that have existed for decades. Many believe the problems are bigger than the Greek system and will require a campus-wide initiatives and support.

EARLIER STORY:

The interfraternity council at Indiana University has voted to suspend activities, the school announced late Monday.

Dr. Lori Reesor, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students announced the decision of the IU Interfraternity Council to temporarily suspend "fraternity social and new member activities" on Twitter shortly before midnight.


"I commend these student leaders for their efforts and look forward to working with them to create a safer environment for all IU students," Reesor tweeted.

The suspension of all fraternity activities is in reaction to hazing incidents and under-aged drinking at frat houses, though no individual incident led to the decision.

Delta Tau Delta
Delta Tau Delta house on the campus of IU - Bloomington (WTHR file photo)

In October, the national office of Sigma Nu suspended the IU chapter's charter over hazing and alcohol violations. The Delta Tau Delta house at IU also had its charter suspended by its national officials in January. In 2015, Phi Kappa Psi was suspended and just returned this semester. Alpha Tau Omega went down around the same time, but the national office revoked their charter entirely and shut down the chapter.

“I’d really like to see the topics of hazing and sexual assault addressed first," Dan Niersbach told us Tuesday morning. He's president of the IU Student Association.

He tweeted last night that the suspension would last until at least mid-spring, noting that new member activities would be restricted while social functions were temporarily suspended.

"Now is the time to create real change in our Greek system and address the culture it creates," Niersbach wrote. "The IU Greek community will be safer and stronger."



“Essentially what it means-- it’s not a banning of the Greek system," he added when speaking to us Tuesday. "It’s not shutting everything here. It is simply a halt on activities on social functions that include alcohol. And then new member events that are unsupervised.”

"This action by the IU student leaders shows they are stepping up to take responsibility for safety in their fraternity community. When students take ownership in driving change, it fosters greater buy-in, accountability, and is more likely to result in meaningful improvement," Heather Kirk with the North American Interfraternity Conference told WTHR.com in a written statement. "The NIC stands ready to support the IFC as it works with national fraternity organizations, the university, and other important stakeholders toward a safer IU community."

Because the decision came from the Interfraternity Council, only fraternities are directly affected by the suspension - not sororities, which are governed by the Panhellenic Association. Dr. Reesor told us, though, that "fraternities and sororities often have combined social activities so there is an indirect impact on the sororities as well."

Before the start of last school year, the university targeted its Greek system in the fight against underage drinking. That decision allowed police and emergency services to search public areas and private rooms without a warrant, provided they gave 24 hours notice or immediately if they suspect someone is in danger.

Two weeks ago, officials at Ohio State University made a similar decision to suspend "all social, recruitment and new member activities" for their interfraternity council. The school joined a growing list of universities who have suspended Greek activities.

Last month, the 13 fraternities at Ball State University agreed not to host events with alcohol through January of next year. Fraternity members also agreed to undergo mandatory training on alcohol abuse, sexual assault, bystander intervention and hazing.

On a national level, Michigan, Florida State, LSU, Texas State and Penn State have all imposed harsh sanctions on their fraternity systems as well.

Fraternities have been a source of income for IU since 1845.

In John Hechinger's new book "True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America's Fraternities," he examined the Indiana University Foundation, which raises money for the university. He found that although only 19 percent of alumni in its database had been members of Greek life, those alumni accounted for 60 percent of donations.

This will also have economic impact on the chapters themselves: No new members means no new member fees.