The University of Wisconsin announced a proactive review of fraternities and sororities with the hopes of strengthening ties between the university and Greek life organizations.
According to a Feb. 7 press release, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor said the review aims to help the university’s fraternities and sororities benefit from new initiatives and best practices.
“Overall, this review is intended to increase safety in our community and to elevate to a new standard of excellence,” Reesor said.
The external review team will assess diversity, institutional relationships, student safety and other areas.
The assessment will be conducted “through gathering information, reviewing existing policies and procedures and speaking with community members, advisors and stakeholders, including during a campus visit in April,” UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said.
McGlone said the review was not initiated because of any “particular incident or issue” but to “enhance members’ health and safety.”
In the past five years, however, controversial incidents have occurred in some of UW’s 60 fraternities and sororities recognized by the university.
In November 2018, Kappa Sigma fraternity was terminated after review of an incident that occurred in June. A television — pushed off of a roof — barely missed a passing woman.
After the incident, UW suspended the chapter and their charter was withdrawn. They cannot re-register as a student organization for five years.
In February 2018, Theta Chi was suspended for conduct violations, including a November 2017 incident in which a fraternity member reportedly asked a woman to send him a picture of the words “rush Theta Chi” written across her breasts.
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Theta Chi was barred from participating in university activities and holding events until Oct. 21. They were not allowed to admit pledges during the past fall semester, and members of the fraternity were required to attend workshops on consent and relationships.
In October 2017, a UW student came forward and reported a sexual assault at a fraternity house on Langdon Street.
In March 2015, the Chi Phi fraternity was terminated following an incident in which a pledge entered a “ritual casket.” A fraternity member stomped on the casket and broke through it, sending the pledge to the hospital.
Chi Phi’s initiation typically involved tapping on the casket with a small hammer, but a drunk student stomped on it, harming the pledge’s head. New members were also fed wasabi-infused foods and forced to sleep in their attic.
Reesor said that the team aims to work with the fraternities and sororities, not against them.
“Our shared goal is for students to be healthy and safe and for fraternities and sororities to contribute positively to the campus community through their shared values of scholarship, leadership, service and brotherhood/sisterhood,” Reesor said.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified the Chi Phi fraternity as Chi Psi. This article has been updated to accurately reflect that Chi Phi was the fraternity involved, not Chi Psi. The Badger Herald regrets this error.