Friday, August 19, 2011

U of S.C. halts fraternity recruitment

BREAKING: USC halts fraternity recruitment

Officials say widespread alcohol issues plague rush process

USC officials postponed fraternity recruitment late Thursday night in a move called unprecedented by Jerry Brewer, USC’s longtime associate vice president of Student Affairs.


Go Gamecocks! 
The decision, delivered to fraternity presidents late Thursday, came after widespread alcohol issues plagued the rush process, said Anna Edwards, USC’s director of Student Services. Brewer said "six of the 18 fraternities" were documented for alleged violations during this week’s rush activities. He declined to say which fraternities had been reported.

The news came as fraternities prepared to offer bids to potential new members. A meeting will be called early Friday to discuss how the future will unfold, Edwards said. USC officials said they were unsure whether fraternities would be allowed to offer bids later this semester, and Edwards said the decision was “by no means a scare tactic.”

“I don’t know what comes next,” Brewer said. “I’ve never dealt with anything like this, where there’s this whole ruse of official recruitment and this whole other side that really happens. The point where we are is kind of frustrating.”

When reached by The Daily Gamecock late Thursday night, Fraternity Council President Wes Steenburgh declined comment. David Corso, president of Lambda Chi Alpha, called the decision “unfortunate.”

“You hear about the parties, but there’s obviously more to do with it,” Corso said. “There’s brotherhood, connecting with people and getting involved in ways you normally can’t. It’s unfortunate to deny them that opportunity, and I feel bad for a lot of the new rushees who were looking for something bigger and better.”

Both Edwards and Brewer said fraternity leaders had been dishonest about recruitment with Greek Life staff. Fraternity Council members and chapter presidents were warned in three meetings held this week that action would come if changes weren’t made, according to both Edwards and Brewer. Edwards said fraternity presidents were offered a chance to propose solutions before the decision was made late Thursday night. The solutions, which included a “guaranteed” dry rush, a two-week social probation and a reduction in time prospective new members rush, weren’t acceptable, Edwards said.

In dismissing the options, Edwards said rush should always be dry, new members should only face an eight-week “new member education” process and the two-week social probation wasn’t even considered.

“This [alcohol] is a cultural issue that has infected our community,” Edwards said. “What we’re looking for are strong male leaders who recognize this is not the way fraternity life should be. And until we have groups who can be honest and we have men who can be honorable, I think we have work to do.”

USC said sorority recruitment won’t be affected by the decision.

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Six fraternities were issued letters alleging they violated policies set by their national organizations on alcohol at recruitment activities, said Jerry Brewer, USC’s longtime head of student affairs.

The six are Sigma Phi Epsilon, Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Nu and Alpha Tau Omega.

Brewer said that four of the six students involved in the alleged incidents required medical assistance and that some, and perhaps all, were freshmen new to campus.

“Nothing happened that had lasting (health) consequences,” he said, “but it was very close.”

The alleged alcohol violations occurred during the weeklong fraternity recruitment period. Some of the parties were on campus, others were not, Brewer said, but all were associated with rush.