Task force suggests tighter UW control over Greek system

University control over the behavior of members of fraternities and sororities will be considerably tighter by this fall if UW officials follow the recommendations of a special task force appointed to study alcohol abuse and other problems in the Greek system.

In a Jan.13 report to President William P. Gerberding, the 19-member committee recommended that the University sign individual contracts with each fraternity and sorority. The contracts, called “recognition agreements” by the task force, would set forth rules of conduct and the sanctions that will be imposed should the groups or their members fail to satisfy them.

The toughest sanctions would bar a chapter from the UW for a minimum of four years.

Under the recommended new rules of conduct, Greek organizations would have to register parties with UW officials seven days in advance of the event and obtain banquet permits through the Washington State Liquor Control Board. This gives the liquor board advance notice of parties and grants the board and Seattle police the right to enter houses, said UW Police Chief Michael Shanahan.

Chapters also would be required to comply with all local, state and federal laws; identify someone who can be contacted by authorities 24 hours per day; and conduct programs covering substance abuse and acquaintance rape.

Many of these conditions are already required in the Greek system but the new recommendations provide a mechanism for enforcement. Sanctions would include warnings, reprimands, fines, requiring restitution for property damage or—in extreme cases—suspension or withdrawal of the University “recognition” of the organization. Withdrawal of “recognition” would effectively close down a chapter because, under the terms of their national charters, fraternities and sororities cannot exist on a particular campus without approval of the host institution.

The University has no direct control over the affairs of fraternity and sorority chapters because they are located off campus and are privately owned and operated.

The task force was appointed by President Gerberding last October in the wake of a Greek row fracas in which a student Jennifer Wen lost the sight in one eye after being struck by a thrown beer bottle. The task force was chaired by Vice President for Student Affairs Ernest R. Morris and included representatives of the University, the student body, the Seattle Police Department, advisors to the Greek system and the University District community.

“I am pleased with the results of the task force’s work,” commented Gerberding. “The members have developed an approach to exerting considerably more University influence over the activities of the Greek system. They have identified the problems and come up with a workable set of solutions. I have asked Vice President Morris to begin implementing the recommendations immediately.”