First off, for those who attended the AFA Annual Meeting, thank you for engaging with us in important conversations last week in Atlanta. One of my lasting impressions from the conference was that our community is full of talented people, who care deeply about the future of fraternities. I also left hopeful that many of the traditional barriers to change could be overcome if we all continue to strengthen our partnerships.
During the conference, I was asked many times, “What is the NIC’s position on system-wide actions?” and “Are you all going to publicly say something about it?”
Before answering those questions, because community-wide actions stem from concerning behavior on a campus, it is important to first describe the collective movement of NIC member organizations to pilot community-wide measures designed to address substance abuse and hazing.
As we shared with you in September, NIC organizations unanimously voted to launch a pilot program this spring to work with campuses to achieve the following goals:
- Remove dangerous hard alcohol from the fraternity experience
- Provide a more balanced, academic-centered fraternity experience
- Foster safer social events for members and guests
At its November 30 meeting, the NIC’s Governing Council expanded this pilot, authorizing the Conference’s executive leadership to work directly with campuses to test additional measures in these areas:
- Adjusting new member processes in terms of length, content and volunteer involvement
- Chapter advisor training and certification
- A recommitment process for all fraternity members on a pilot campus to level-set new expectations
- Shared accountability models with campus partners, IFCs and member fraternities
Further, to provide holistic support as we work together to create healthy, vibrant communities, our Campus Support Model proactively engages campuses and IFCs in educational programming, training, assessment, consultation and resources that fit their needs.
Our member organizations are committed to collective action, and we know one size does not fit all campuses. This campus-by-campus approach allows us to address the complex problems and environments in partnership, while measuring their efficacy and impact.
If your campus is interested in partnering with the NIC to pilot any of these interventions, please email our Campus Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Open Letter we shared in March outlined the Conference’s position on community-wide, blanket actions, and its guidance still holds true today. Here is some additional, important information on our philosophy:
- The NIC applauds recent student-led actions that aim to tackle critical issues on college campuses, such as alcohol and substance abuse, hazing and sexual misconduct. IFCs considering collective action should follow guidelines to address behaviors that risk the health and safety of their community members.
- Alcohol abuse on college campuses is a public health concern, and a consistent, campus-wide approach helps address this concern — both in fraternity communities and beyond. The NIC supports campus-administered restrictions that limit access to alcohol if the policies are equally applied across all student organizations. We applaud President Thrasher’s recent decision to eliminate events with alcohol for all 700 student organizations at Florida State University.
- The NIC will vigorously advocate for the rights of students to assemble in ways that develop their personal and intellectual growth. Chapter study groups, service and philanthropy projects, business meetings, spiritual gatherings, prevention programs, or alcohol-free social interactions should not be limited as these experiences positively impact a student’s development.
- In the wake of a tragic loss in a community, fraternity men and the NIC are prepared to work closely with our campus partners, students and alumni to respond appropriately in such a challenging and difficult time.
Now more than ever, students, alumni, community members, national organizations, and university administrators must come together to create ownership and accountability toward measures for change. We know critical issues that are deeply rooted in culture aren’t going to be solved with quick fixes. It is going to take intentional collaboration and comprehensive strategies.
We look forward to being a part of that — to partnering to improve your campus fraternity community.
Judson A. Horras
NIC President and CEO
North-American Interfraternity Conference, Inc.
NIC Guidance for Interfraternity Councils Considering Community-Wide Actions
- Any action should stem from authority granted in the Council’s bylaws. Click here for sample bylaws.
- All chapter presidents and IFC delegates should be involved in the decision-making process. Student leaders should be given sufficient time for discussion with the space to openly express their thoughts with minimal external pressure. This helps cement student buy-in, which will be needed to enforce the community’s collective actions.
- Restrictions should focus on addressing the health and safety concerns of the community and not interfere with positive experiences fraternities provide. For example, a restriction on social events with alcohol is appropriate, but restricting students from chapter meetings or service projects is not.
- Any action taken should clearly outline how long the action will last, what steps will be required to modify or renew actions in the future, and who is responsible for enforcing the actions.
- IFC leaders should consult with the NIC staff prior to taking community-wide action to ensure a proper communication plan is in place for internal and external audiences.