Following an internal review of their Greek Life policies, West Virginia University has announced that their new guidelines, known as the “Reaching the Summit Plan”, will be rolled out on August 1, fourteen days before the first day of classes.
WVU officials say that the new system makes changes to the pledging periods and standards to how fraternities at the school operate.
Furthermore, according to a press release from the university, Phi Sigma Kappa and Sigma Alpha Mu will be suspended through the Fall 2020 semester, while the Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta (otherwise known as FIJI) fraternities are suspended indefinitely.
Matthew Richardson, who leads the school’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said they are not looking to “punish” the university’s fraternities or “sever these groups that have a great history on our campus.”
The new plan hopes to address the various allegations made against fraternities along with issues that have been a concern within the university, including longstanding academic issues. This will include changes to pledging periods and standards to how fraternities operate at WVU. While Richardson stated that a few of the fraternities suspended from Greek Life will need to take a longer hiatus, most of the suspended fraternities will have the opportunity to get back to operations.
“We’re not looking to punish, we’re not looking to sever these groups that have a great history on our campus,” he said. “Some of our groups, by result, have been suspended for a few years and taking some time off, but we’re trying our best to keep these relationships going so that they can return and have a lasting legacy here.”
Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Alpha Mu, and Pi Kappa Alpha were among the suspended fraternities that also lost recognition by their national charters. Fraternities granted good standing at the University, along with ones currently in good standing, will have to be subject to a policy of not only more open communication, but clarity to incoming students. This will include a university provided database of fraternities and their standing with the university for students looking to join Greek Life at WVU.
Furthermore, Richardson said that their goal was “transparency”:
“The biggest thing is that transparency, making sure that everyone knows how to report hazing, making sure everyone knows that there is a system of accountability and that the university is proactively trying to prevent it,” he said.
West Virginia University students return for the first day of classes on Wednesday, August 15.
This is the latest major Greek Life overhaul in the last couple of years, as schools such as Indiana University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Texas State, Florida State, Ball State, Louisiana State and Penn State have all suspended fraternities in the wake of hazing and alcohol deaths.
These reports come amidst similar allegations that have been made against fraternities nationwide, including Sigma Alpha Epsilon at East Carolina University, who were shut down for hazing and the Lamda Chi Alpha chapter at the University of Arkansas which has been accused of taking sexually explicit photographs of women without their permission.
In response to incidents like these, fraternities such Phi Kappa Psi have made numerous changes to their code of conduct in an effort to address the issues that have arisen. In addition, schools such as Texas State have introduced new Greek Life rules to try and prevent these problems.