University and Interfraternity Council agree to suspend all social functions

University and Interfraternity Council agree to suspend all social functions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Recent events, including a tragic student death associated with activities in a fraternity house, as well as growing allegations of misconduct in these organizations, have resulted in joint action by both Penn State and the Infterfraternity Council, the governing body for University fraternities, to halt all social activities for IFC chapters until further notice. The following statement was issued today (Feb. 7):

UNIVERSITY STATEMENT:

Effective immediately, the Penn State Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims are suspending all social functions for IFC chapters associated with the University Park campus. This suspension will continue while the University, the IFC and its chapters, relevant alumni and national fraternity organizations, the Panhellenic Council, and the Borough of State College determine significant changes in social policies and practices for these groups. Recent events, including a tragic student death associated with activities in a fraternity house, as well as growing allegations of misconduct in these organizations, including hazing and sexual assault, compel this joint action.

Social functions are defined by the IFC as any activity sponsored by a chapter or its members, on or off chapter property, where alcohol is present, regardless the source, including third-party vendors. The moratorium on these functions will be enforced by the Interfraternity Council and Student Affairs, which will be given access to public areas in chapter houses for spot visits conducted by IFC leaders and Student Affairs staff. Violation of these expectations will result in further disciplinary action and may subject a chapter to loss of University recognition.

Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, met yesterday (Feb. 7) with the presidents of Penn State’s fraternity chapters to discuss the need for meaningful change in their organizations. These fraternities are private organizations that function on private property.  They are neither owned, nor operated by Penn State, and their success and sustainability require collective and positive action by undergraduate actives, alumni, national chapters, the University and the borough. 

The self-governing nature of these groups requires their participation to effect any change in their policies and practices. Vice President Sims told the chapter presidents that they must work together with the University and others to achieve better outcomes that are required to ensure a healthy, productive and sustainable fraternity and sorority system at Penn State.

Vice President Sims told the IFC leadership and the chapter presidents that agreement to changes must be achieved soon, and that the moratorium on social functions will remain in place until such agreement is reached. 

An aggressive timeline is being established to finalize plans and adopt recommendations for change. The Penn State fraternity and sorority community is a rich source of leadership opportunity, charitable activity, community service, networking and social experience. The University and its fraternity leaders are taking actions to improve the experience for all Penn State students and to ensure the sustainability of these important organizations.

Last Updated February 16, 2017