After a moratorium on all social events held in the 12 Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) chapter houses, the University announced via JHBroadcast on Friday that the IFC’s interim plan, which allows invite-only events and requires the presence of sober party monitors, will go into effect immediately.
The email was signed by Provost Robert Lieberman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger and Dean of Student Life Terry Martinez.
Since the moratorium was enacted on Nov. 6, members of the administration have been working with the IFC to iron out the details of the plan, which includes training designated party monitors.
“During the past week, the IFC has fleshed out its interim plan by defining different types of social events, establishing the number of monitors required for events and detailing monitors’ responsibilities,” the email stated. “With an eye toward resuming fraternity social activities as soon as possible, the IFC and university also worked together to start training monitors even before the final details of the implementation plan were in place.”
The IFC formed their interim plan at their Nov. 3 meeting, which was held in response to the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl by two non-affiliate men inside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) house on Nov. 2. The plan, which also bans open parties, will be in effect until the organization works with the administration to establish permanent rules to be applied to all social events held by student organizations.
“Like us and our colleagues in university administration, the IFC leadership is committed to effective measures that protect our students while enabling them to enjoy each other’s company in the social activities that are an important part of undergraduate life,” the email stated.
These permanent rules will also be influenced by the findings of the Alcohol Strategy Working Group and its student subcommittee. The group, which was formed by Shollenberger at the beginning of the semester, plans to release its first report early next year.
“The working group… is taking a broad look at building a culture and practice of responsible behavior; it is not focused only on Greek life,” the email stated. “We will solicit community comment on the working group’s recommendations after they are announced.”
The administration was criticized for instituting the moratorium without consulting the IFC or the Student Government Association (SGA). The SGA emailed a statement to the community on Tuesday expressing their frustration with the administration’s actions.
“Although approached with the best interest of the student body in mind, we fundamentally oppose any decision-making process that excludes student input,” the statement read. “We are a community and this action is a breach of our trust and respect.”
Students were also given a chance to air their grievances about the situation at the SGA’s Community Forum on Thursday. Shollenberger and Title IX Coordinator Allison Boyle were present to listen to student’s opinions on administrative transparency, as well as issues regarding sexual assault and binge drinking.
In response to SGA and student backlash, Martinez said that the administration thought it was too risky to enact the IFC’s interim plan without a clear implementation plan, and that the matter needed to be worked on exclusively by the IFC in the short-term.
“They’ve put together a good proposal, but it’s a matter of, ‘Now how do you enact it?’” Martinez said. “[We didn’t consider consulting the SGA] during the interim plan [because] they were measures that were recommended by the IFC, and so we went back to them with our concerns. As we continue to think about our policies and our broader issues, we certainly will do that. In this particular instance, it was between us and the IFC.”
Shollenberger also said that much of the backlash over administrative transparency stems from laws that prevent the University from sharing details about specific cases.
“I think where we’re always in a difficult position as administrators is that we actually can’t comment on actual individual student cases, investigations, or just planning that we’re taking, so students then see that as a transparency issue when it really is about protecting students’ privacy,” Shollenberger said.
The University is currently hosting consultants from the North-American Interfraternity Conference’s Fraternity and Sorority Coalition Project, who will speak with students, faculty, staff and administrators and provide a report with recommendations on how to improve Greek life at Hopkins in the long term. The visit was announced in a statement to the Greek community posted on the Fraternity and Sorority Life Facebook page on Oct. 13.