Bad behavior among some Greek groups at the University of Kansas has led to a halt on social activities for most fraternities at the Lawrence campus.
The Interfraternity Council at KU on Monday announced a self-imposed temporary freeze on all activities for the 24 fraternities that it governs. Only chapter meetings, philanthropic events and service events will be allowed under this pause in activity. Members can continue to live in the houses.
IFC President Daniel Lee said, "This freeze is a way for us to pause and do some honest introspection about who we are and how we can live up to our standards of fraternal excellence. We owe this to our members and the entire KU community."
Less than two months into the spring semester, three KU fraternities — Delta Upsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon — have been suspended by their national headquarters while the university investigates allegations that they each violated some fraternity policy.
Those are just the latest problems for KU fraternities over the last several years.
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said that while many students involved in fraternities on the campus "have a great experience in fraternity life, do the right things and engage in meaningful philanthropy, service and leadership," university and Greek life leaders have noticed the existence of "systemic problems related to student conduct within our IFC community that we must address."
Keegun Gose, president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at KU, said he agrees there "are definitely some corrections that need to be made" among the Greek community at KU. His house is not listed among those with current sanctions.
He said that even though most of the IFC chapters are not being sanctioned or investigated, there is "room for improvement" all across Greek life on the campus.
He said IFC chapter presidents intend to meet Tuesday with members of the IFC executive board. He said chapter presidents or their representative will discuss "how they want the changes to look going forward."
Gose said the decision to halt all social activities was made by a four-member IFC executive board. He said there are normally nine members on the board, but several of them have stepped down after their fraternity chapters ended up accused of bad conduct, sanctioned or put under investigation.
"This freeze was announced without any chapter knowing or being consulted," Gose said. "It pretty much means no parties for now. There are a lot of spring formals coming up."
Gose said he thinks the freeze on social activities may be misdirected, because the behavior code violations deal primarily with hazing, "and that has nothing to do with a social problem."
"A freeze on social is a solution to a different problem," he said. "It's not that the social problem doesn't need work, but I think this was a misdirection."
He said there's still plenty for fraternities to do even with a social activities freeze.
"Fraternities do so much more than be social. My chapter has raised over $10,000 for philanthropy, packaged 15,000 meals for those in poverty, and collectively served the community with hundreds of hours."
Jake Bethe, president of the Delta Chi fraternity, said his fraternity doesn't have any social events planned that would be affected by the freeze. But he said "we are frustrated that this is going on."
He said with more attention being paid to fraternity behavior on campuses across the country, "I can't say that something like this wasn't in the back of our minds."
Monday's statement from the IFC said similar freezes of social activities have taken place at Indiana University, the University of Idaho, Florida State University, Penn State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and Texas State University.
Members of other IFC fraternity chapters at KU, including some that have not been sanctioned recently, did not return phone calls or respond to emails on Monday.
The Greek community at KU is comprised of 47 sororities and fraternities. Each of them is affiliated with one of four governing councils — the IFC, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Association.
According to a university conduct status report, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and another fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, were accused of hazing and were sanctioned for the violation between December 2017 and January 2018. Alpha Epsilon Pi was given a warning that is set to be lifted in December. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended by its national headquarters for at least four years.
During the 2016-2017 academic year Delta Upsilon was in trouble for alcohol and drug violations and another fraternity, Sigma Chi, was in trouble for hazing. The Delta Upsilon probation is to be lifted in May 18, 2019.
The Sigma Chi warning is set to be lifted May 19. When reached by telephone Monday afternoon, Sigma Chi President Ryan Carter declined to discuss the IFC decision, saying, "At this time I am not making any comment."
During the 2015-2016 academic year Delta Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi and Delta Upsilon all were sanctioned for hazing.
Monday's imposed freeze affects only the IFC chapters and the estimated 1,700 members.
IFC officials said the down time will be used to develop a strategic plan that includes higher standards for health, safety, wellness, self-governance, new member development and recruitment among its chapters.