Content Warning: This story contains alleged references to sexual assault, drugs, and prostitution.
After a formal recruiting quarter, the Interfraternity Council plans to introduce an unnamed diversity and inclusion initiative and a new men’s mental health training program in late winter or early spring quarter.
According to IFC Vice President of Recruitment and Weinberg sophomore Parker Stava, fraternities are often thought of as exclusive.
“I realized there are a lot of perceived barriers,” Stava said. “Everything from, you know, fraternities are just looking for a demographic, or you know, (they) need financial aid, (they) don’t know if (they) can afford to join a fraternity.”
Stava said he intends to release a number of resources for fraternity use with MSA and Student Enrichment Services before the end of the academic year. He said he is currently working with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to organize and publish the information.
Stava said he began working on the unnamed diversity and inclusion initiative last quarter.
He added that he has been working with Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Matthew Abtahi to develop questions for fraternities to check for potential barriers to entry, such as admitting only certain male members at birth. Resources may also include scholarship opportunities to offset the cost of fraternity membership, Abtahi wrote in an email to The Daily.
Abtahi described himself as a consultant to the program, as he met with Stava twice during the fall quarter.
Stava said all nine fraternities at NU allow all “male-identifying students” to be eligible for membership, including transgender people. He said that since resources are in progress, he is unable to comment on whether the ban on non-binary students will count as a barrier to entry.
Abtahi said they don’t want to promote a fraternity if it could be a “hostile” environment. They added that it is important for Greek life organizations to be transparent about their restrictions related to national chapters.
According to Vice President of Communications Jon Yates, fraternities cannot change chapter policies at the local level, but can still advocate for change through their national organizations.
While work has been done to improve accountability and culture in Greek life, cultural shifts take time, Abtahi wrote.
Nationally, Abtahi wrote that fraternity organizations tend to be “binary spaces,” although some organizations push for gender alignment. He also wrote in the email that NU’s data suggests dissatisfaction and impairment in Greek life, although some students may need FSL organizations for personal and academic success.
Stava added that there are many reasons to believe that fraternities are not inclusive organizations and that because of these perceived barriers, IFC fraternities do not represent the University. But he hopes the initiative will encourage people of all backgrounds to join Greek life.
“I don’t think anyone who wants to join Greek life should be held back by an identity that they have,” Stava said.
Weinberg and Bienen freshman William Lewis said the largest fraternities on campus tend to be led by straight, white men.
“I wouldn’t say there’s strict discrimination,” Lewis said. “However, I will say that there is a certain target that frats are looking for … A lot of times, that happens to be straight white men.”
IFC is also developing a men’s mental health training program, according to Council president and Weinberg sophomore Shaafi Flener.
The Council currently has numerous educational programs and trainings, required either by the national IFC or by the University. National training, which includes alcohol abuse and sexual harassment, is mandatory to join a fraternity, according to Stava.
Flener said the mental health training will fill some holes in the current IFC modules.
“Educating the new members is just making sure people understand that we’re trying to build a culture that’s different,” Flener said, referring to previous incidents of sexual harassment and assault.
While he said talking about mental health is difficult, he emphasized its importance.
Flener said the trainings are a preventative measure regarding sexual assault and harassment.
More than 2000 the students protested outside the AEPi fraternity house in September 2021 after several individuals reported being drugged at an AEPi house event. One person also reported getting high at a Sigma Alpha Epsilon house event that same month.
of The NU investigation in alleged non-consensual drugs closed in May 2022.
Students are penalized for not attending training without valid justification, according to IFC Vice President of Standards Javier Fernandez-Ambite. He said social bans are an example of punishment.
Flener said he is trying to show that IFC is working on these issues and trying to open up the fraternity community to conversations with the larger NU community.
“We’re a different organization than we were last year, we’re a different organization than the year before and the year before that,” Flener said. “We’re really trying to change and grow into a better organization that can be truly reflective of the Northwestern student body and reflective of our individual fraternities.”
Abolish Greek Life did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment.
Email: [email protected]
– Aggravated battery was reported at the AEPi fraternity house
– Daily explains: The current status of the Greek life countries in the ASG Senate
– Northwestern closes investigations into alleged non-consensual drugs at fraternity houses this fall
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