Spurred by a series of fraternity and sorority shutdowns — almost all of which were due to risk-management violations— Greek organizations at UC Santa Barbara have made strides to rebrand themselves among the student body at large, with help from the Office of Student Life.
Greek life at UCSB over the past four years has been marked by the closing of several chapters of fraternities by their parent organizations, as well as a loss of standing among the campus community at UCSB.
- Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity lost its standing with UCSB due to “risk management violations of the campus’s alcohol-free social event policy.” It still operates without the consent of the university.
- The sorority Alpha Kappa Delta Phi was closed by its headquarters due to “risk management violations and hazing.”
- Beta Theta Pi (Beta) was closed by its parent organization due to “risk management violations and hazing.”
- Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity (NAK) closed after it was charged with “risk management violations in conjunction with sexual harassment/sexual assault.”
- Phi Delta Theta Colony (Phi Delt) left campus due to “risk management violations,” which its parent organization felt were “incongruent with headquarter policies and values.”
- Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity (Phi Sig) closed due to risk management violations, hazing and sexual harassment/sexual assault.
- Delta Delta Delta Sorority (Tri Delta) will close in June 2019 due to decreased membership.
According to both students involved in Greek Life through the Interfraternity Council (IFC) as well as staff in the Office of Student Life (OSL), recent developments indicate improvement.
Emma Parker, a scheduling systems manager representing the Office of the Dean of Students at UCSB, wrote that the Greek-lettered organizations at UCSB have “made great strides in the last few years toward building a safer, more responsible community through education, student-led initiatives, and programming.”
OSL Director Miles Ashlock also noted different approaches from both the student and administrative sides.
“We did have a rash of really serious, high-profile cases, which I think attracted a lot of attention,” Ashlock said.
“Probably people realized that ‘hey, if the university is taking these steps then there must be something really concerning; we really need to look out for ourselves and each other, and take better care.’”
Ashlock said student leaders within Greek organizations have taken more initiative in fostering relationships with administration.
“I think we have seen some significant developments in terms of student leaders stepping up to create internal policies and procedures that contribute to the safety and better operation of their organizations. They have been a lot more open with us in terms of disclosing concerns, asking questions and proposing solutions,” he said.
OSL has overhauled the way that staff members interact with those affiliated with Greek life, giving the Greek organizations more opportunities to interact with a wider variety of people in the office.
“We started to cross-train, so rather than have a separate unit involving fraternities and sororities, work is divided among multiple people, so fraternities and sororities get to know pretty much everyone,” Ashlock said.
Having closer relationships with a broader scope of staff has given Greek life “a lot more opportunities to interact and a lot of opportunity for [OSL] to connect with them across our program areas with other campus organizations and leadership development,” he added.
Ashlock also said there are broader shifts in the demographics of the university which reflect in the conduct of fraternities and sororities.
“I’m heartened to see the demographics of our campus more closely reflect the demographics of the state,” he said.
“What I see is an ever-increasing emphasis on school and studies and people seeing the value of education over maybe what was the in the ‘80s or ‘90s the perceived ‘coming-of-age experience in college.’”
UCSB IFC President Zachary Hedges noted that the IFC, in cooperation with other Greek councils, has worked to develop an accreditation program.
The program includes workshops that aim to “help students improve their well-being and learn to recognize and prevent the potentially dangerous situations that are most common.”
Ongoing collaboration with campus organizations such as Counseling & Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.), Alcohol and Drug Program (ADP) and Campus Advocacy, Resources, & Education (C.A.R.E.), have helped ensure that these workshops remain “relevant and engaging,” Hedges said.
“The IFC is also a strong advocate of making sure that all of our members are encouraged to report sexual assault and understand the options available to them in order to do so.”
A version of this article appear on p. 3 of the Jan. 24, 2019 edition of the Daily Nexus.
Sean Crommelin is a reporter for the Daily Nexus and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.