Report: Poor Oversight of Greek Life at University of Missouri
A large portion of recommended changes relate to student safety and the prevention of sexual assault and hazing in Greek life organizations.
A new detailed report released by a consulting firm describes fraternities and sororities at the University of Missouri as free-for-all atmospheres with little oversight or guidance.
The report, released on October 24 and conducted by Dyad Strategies, outlines the company’s findings and provides almost 50 recommendations for action.
Information was collected by the strategic planning firm from August 17-18 through interviews with student affairs staff, undergraduate fraternity and sorority leaders, alumni, and several internal and external stakeholders.
Reviewers also evaluated documents, policies and reports provided by the university to comprehend the focus and priorities of the school’s Greek life system.
In the report, the Office of Greek Life (OGL) is urged to require registration of all social events at its houses, limit alcohol to common areas, allow auditors who inspect houses during parties to visit individual member’s bedrooms and limit non-member guests to three per chapter member.
It also recommends all freshman who live in a fraternity or sorority house be removed to improve safety and classroom performance.
Another area the firm says needs improvement is in its support of its members. Students within the fraternity and sorority community do not feel supported by the Office of Greek Life (OGL), says the report. Chapter leaders reported viewing the OGL not as a resource but as a reactionary unit.
A Greek life member also told reviewers that coerced alcohol use and personal servitude has replaced traditional physical hazing.
Recommended Disciplinary Actions for Misconduct within Greek Life System
One recommendation from the firm includes implementation of a “three-pronged approach” to handling misconduct within Greek organizations.
“If a culture is established on campus in which students realize that loss of university recognition poses no significant threat to the existence of a chapter, then groups will become increasingly likely to operate underground without the university’s blessing,” says the report of the importance of creating consequences for misconduct.
In the three-pronged approach, violations are divided into three tiers and are accompanied with a suggested adjudication process.
For example, a Tier 1 violation would be an unregistered social event or noise violation, a Tier 2 violation would be vandalism or fighting, and a Tier 3 violation would be hazing or sexual misconduct. Each tier has its own recommended process for addressing an infraction as seen in the chart below.
“The reviewer feels that the implementation of such a model would serve the dual benefit of reducing staff time in investigating/adjudicating organizational misconduct while at the same time building trust and goodwill between undergraduate chapter leaders and OGL staff by removing them from the investigation/adjudication process while allowing them to work in partnership with organizations in resolving their own misconduct issues and building a culture of self-governance,” says the report.
Gary Ward, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, says no recommendations will be adopted until the spring. He says Dyad consultants will work with alumni, university supporters, students, staff and faculty to fully review the report and decide which recommendations will be implemented.
“We will not negotiate any rule in a way that we feel would decrease safety for our students,” says university spokesman Christian Basi. “But this has to be something that the entire community is on board with and behind.”
Former Greek Life Employee Under Investigation for Embezzlement
The report was released in conjunction with an ongoing investigation into embezzlement by a former employee at the OGL.
The missing funds were part of an account outside of the regular university banking system, reports the Columbia Tribune. The employee had authority from the organization to spend money without approval from the organization’s student leaders.
In August, the case was turned over to federal authorities “because the former employee’s actions might have violated federal laws”, according to university officials.
After discovering the missing money, the school implemented new protocols which require two approvals for spending money and additional approval from the vice chancellor for student affairs.
The name of the person at the forefront of the investigation has not been released.