An official at the University of Memphis says the new bill that would ban Greek organizations on state campuses won’t eliminate hazing and other issues often associated with fraternities and sororities on college campuses.
The vice president of student affairs at the U of M, Dr. Darrell Ray said Greek life can be an important part of the college experience.
“While there may be challenges, most students have good experiences when participating in fraternities and sororities,” he said.
The bill, HB 2042, would prohibit fraternities and sororities from being “recognized by, associated with, or operating on” any of the state’s higher education institutions. This excludes professional fraternities and honor societies.
Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, who is sponsoring the legislation said he’s put in bills in the past seeking more transparency from Greek organizations, but they were killed and “swept away.” Now, he said it’s time to start having conversations about the actions of those organizations.
“The intent of the bill is to have people come to the table and say ‘we will do everything we can to keep campuses safe,’” DeBerry said. “We can’t pretend we don’t see it anymore or that women aren’t being sexually assaulted and that some of the fraternities are breaking the rules and laws.”
The bill calls for accountability in these private entities that are on public property, he said.
Ray of the U of M said banning Greek organizations from the school is not a solution and that hazing and underage drinking are not limited to fraternities and sororities.
Those actions have occurred outside of those organizations, he said, but when incidents happen within Greek settings, they become more visible.
Currently, the university has about 25 fraternities and sororities after one fraternity received a five-year suspension for reported hazing in October of last year.
In December, the university placed new guidelines on all students organizations including fraternities and sororities. One guideline requires that all participants of campus organizations attend training sessions in fraternity and sorority management, hazing prevention, Title IX and sexual assault prevention, and bystander intervention.
All organizations are also required to adopt eight safety policies related to alcohol consumption.
DeBerry says he doesn’t expect to see fraternities and sororities banned from campuses, as he understands the positive impact they can have on students. Once he feels that everyone is on board with making a culture change within Greek life, he said the bill will be dropped.
But, if the bill is not killed and it passes, it would take effect in July.