Panhellenic sororities voted nine to one at a Cal Poly Panhellenic Association (PHA) meeting Oct. 10 to clarify a resolution involving unrecognized fraternities.
PHA’s resolution “strictly prohibits Panhellenic chapters from affiliating and interacting with unrecognized fraternities in any way, shape or form.” Interactions between PHA member organizations and unrecognized fraternities will be subject to judicial action.
Interactions with unaffiliated fraternities include, but are not limited to, attending any philanthropic or social event sponsored by these organizations, taking new members to their events and supporting their recruitment efforts.
There are eight fraternities that have lost affiliation with the university: Delta Tau, Kappa Chi, Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE), Delta Sigma Phi and Alpha Gamma Omega.
The resolution does not allow PHA to sanction individual members, but allows for the punishment of chapters on a case-by-case basis after a hearing, according to PHA President Shirin Beroukhim.
This stance on unrecognized fraternities was based on the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) bylaws.
The NPC policy, introduced in 2013 states that “NPC member organizations agree to advise their collegiate chapters to plan or participate in events with men’s fraternities only when those men’s fraternities are not suspended for reasons of organizational misconduct.” This means Panhellenic sororities are advised to interact only with recognized fraternities.
PHA Vice President of Judicial Rita Elfarissi said though NPC’s policy is not new and has always been respected by Cal Poly Panhellenic, the resolution was put in effect to cater the language of the guidelines to Cal Poly.
“We just felt it was appropriate to have it embedded in our bylaws so it’s more relevant to our community and makes an impact on our Panhellenic organization as a whole to improve our relations with campus and improve cohesiveness between national Panhellenic and Cal Poly’s Panhellenic,” Elfarissi said.
According to PHA’s resolution, unrecognized fraternities pose a major threat to the safety and well-being of Panhellenic sororities, individual members of PHA and Cal Poly greek life at large.
The resolution, titled “Stance on Unrecognized Fraternities,” states, “Organizations of this nature have no obligation to follow the rules and guidelines other Greek organizations are obligated to follow that ensure the safety and promotion of student well-being (i.e. party registration, hazing, and risk management guidelines), therefore providing minimal accountability of high risk, inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior.”
Communication studies senior Beroukhim clarified before the vote that the resolution was not to control individual members or dissuade people from interacting with individual members of disaffiliated fraternities.
“I’ve been going around to several chapter meetings throughout the past three weeks explaining that there are some great members in disaffiliated fraternities and I completely understand that. I have some myself,” Beroukhim said. “On an individual-to-individual basis it is okay that you hang out with those members. On an organizational-based basis, that’s where the issue of risk management, sober monitoring training and standards of excellence goes down the drain.”
Many members of the Cal Poly community spoke during the public comment portion of the PHA meeting, including Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon, members of PIKE, Cal Poly greek life members and other Cal Poly students.
Industrial engineering junior and PIKE Treasurer Nathan Stone spoke during the public forum to advocate for PIKE’s standards.
“For those who don’t know us well, I know sometimes we are perceived as a drinking club,” Stone said. “I’m here to make a statement about how we are not just a drinking club. We have high moral standards for our members.”
Stone also said PIKE has changed since their six-year suspension began in 2015. The suspension was in response to a reported sexual assault, as well as alcohol and conduct policy violations.
“What happened long ago is far away from this chapter of outstanding gentlemen that we now have,” Stone said. “We would just ask that we are treated as human beings.”
Political science senior Elfarissi said the resolution was not intended to single out particular organizations.
“It is a blanket term of unrecognized fraternities, you can see the list … on the Dean of Students website,” Elfarissi said in the meeting. “This does not specifically slander or represent any individual organization.”
According to the NPC policy, collegiate chapters can plan or participate in events with men’s fraternities that are:
- “Chapters or colonies recognized and in good standing with both their inter/national organization and the college/ university;
- Chapters or colonies recognized and in good standing with their inter/national organization, but have been denied recognition or have had recognition rescinded by the college/university for reasons other than organizational conduct;
- Chapters or colonies recognized and in good standing with their inter/national organization, but where the entire Interfraternity Council community lacks recognition from the college/university;
- Local fraternities recognized and in good standing with the college/university.”
Political science senior and Interfraternity Council President Colton Marino declined to comment.