The Student Government Greek Life Committee plans to strengthen three accreditation standards for fraternities and sororities at Lafayette, focusing on new sensitivity training in light of concerns about sexism and racism in Greek life.
The reforms, pioneered by Lauren Ameruoso ‘22, the director of the Greek Life Committee, and Caroline Burns ‘22, Greek life committee chair member, will specifically change standards 9, 10, and 12 of the accreditation requirements.
“For all of the standards we changed, they now require that 75% of a chapter be in attendance for workshops on sexual assault and harassment, dating violence and domestic abuse, anti-racism-, discrimination, bias, and multiculturalism, as well as topics related to risk management, hazing education, body image awareness, and alcohol use/abuse,” Ameruoso said.
The standards concerning “awareness” as well as “diversity & inclusion” originally had no attendance requirements, while the standard regarding substance use/abuse, hazing, and risk management only mandated an attendance rate of 51%, according to Lafayette Fraternity and Sorority life accreditation program.
The reforms, which are set to begin this November and will last through the 2020-2021 accreditation year, were considered after the Instagram accounts @anti.violence.laf and @black.at.laf gained thousands of followers this summer. These accounts detail instances of sexual assault and racism at Lafayette, respectively, many of which involved Greek life organizations.
“This is something our committee has grappled with. Trying every year to do something that we see as a very meaningful step in taking down what Greek life stands for, which is inherently racist, sexist,” Burns said.
The committee worked on the reforms throughout August and cooperated with the Greek Chapter Presidents, the Panhellenic Council, as well as the Interfraternity Council to ensure effective, agreeable changes.
“We’ve known they’re prevalent issues in Greek life, this was our way to get the ball rolling without any pushback,” Ameruoso said.
Burns and Ameruoso specifically noted the help received from Vanessa Pearson, the head of student involvement and advisor for student government, in trying to navigate the roadblocks imposed by national institutions like fraternities and sororities.
“For us, it’s always been hard to figure out the line between where Lafayette’s role is in dealing with institutions that aren’t really run by them because they’re international,” Burns said. “The first thing that came to mind is that [these reforms are] something we have complete control over, we can do this, complete it, see it happen, and hopefully see a difference in how people talk about these issues and how people become better allies as they become more educated.”
“If [Pearson] hadn’t been so flexible and receptive to us, we would not be able to even move along with these changes,” Ameruoso noted.
The proposed reforms have since been sent to Vice President of Campus Life, Annette Diorio, who is currently reviewing them.
“It’s an immediate response that we can do and it’s something that needs to be done,” Ameruoso said. “It’s obviously the first step, but if it can make at least one person feel safer then I feel like we’re successful.”