University of Missouri announces changes in Greek system

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Two years after a scathing report on the safety of its Greek system, the University of Missouri on Thursday unveiled reforms that address hazing, diversity, partying and recruitment at its fraternities and sororities.

The reforms, which will be gradually implemented through 2021, include guidelines on when freshmen can live in fraternities. They also set limits on initiation periods and social occasions involving alcohol, and provide limited amnesty to those who report violations.

“The review of MU’s fraternities and sororities has been a comprehensive process that has included input from dozens of Greek students from day one,” Matt Elben, president of the Interfraternity Council, said in a news release. “This plan gives us steps forward to thrive as a community while ensuring the safety of everyone involved in these great organizations.”

In 2017, consultant Dyad Strategies found that the university’s Greek system was plagued by poor oversight and risky behavior. Four fraternities have lost recognition since the fall of 2017 — three after their national chapters and alumni decided to close the chapters. Another five fraternities and one sorority currently are on probation, university spokeswoman Liz McCune said.

In response to the consultant’s report, the university appointed an advisory group to study the issue. That board made recommendations last summer and since then, university officials have met with numerous groups including representatives from the student-run councils that govern four Greek groups.

One of Dyad’s main suggestions was banning freshmen from living in fraternities but the recommendations announced Thursday would allow exceptions if certain requirements are met.

Freshmen will be allowed to live in fraternities for the next two years, but chapters must maintain an average GPA of 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, have no violations of hazing or alcohol policies and meet other requirements by 2021 to be allowed to keep housing freshmen. New members will be required to have a 3.0 high school or college GPA, take 12 credit hours and violate no university policies before moving into a chapter house as a freshman.

The reforms also move fraternity recruitment from spring or summer to the late summer or fall before new members’ freshmen year. And social events with alcohol would be limited to four hours, must be held only Thursday through Sunday and can never be held during the first week of classes.

The limited amnesty policies will protect anyone who reports hazing and works with university staff from being charged for past violations, The Kansas City Star reported .

“Our goal is to stop hazing,” said Jeffrey Zeilenga, Missouri’s dean of students. “If someone comes in and reports that hazing takes place and they are willing to be proactive in changing their culture, that’s great.”

Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gary Ward, who commissioned the Dyad Strategies report, said his goal was to make Missouri a “national model” for Greek practices and to build a “culture of mutual interest” that improved the relationship between the university and the Greek community.

“I think for a long time we weren’t seen as partners,” said Ward. “You had the Greek community and you had the university community. And we’re one and the same . we’re joined at the hip.”

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