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IFC softens penalties for chapters that failed to meet sexual assault training requirement

Jacob Schafer, the president of the Interfraternity Council, said the executive board has “full flexibility” to change sanctions on fraternity chapters that did not have at least 80 percent of members attend a formal sexual assault education session.

Updated: June 11, 2018 at 2:09 p.m.

Fraternities that didn’t comply with sexual assault education requirements this year received lesser punishments than decided on last spring.

Interfraternity Council chapter presidents said at least three of 14 chapters did not adhere to a newly implemented requirement forcing at least 80 percent of each chapter to attend a formal sexual assault education session before April 1. But the chapters that did not send the required number of members to the trainings received lesser sanctions than IFC leaders initially promised would come if the requirement was not met.

The proposed sanctions included a loss of “good standing” with the IFC – meaning a chapter’s members would not be able to vote in official IFC decisions, hold office on the executive board or vote in hearings on the judicial board. But chapter presidents said the only sanctions delivered were fines.

Chapter leaders said because there were only two IFC-wide sessions offered and chapters needed to schedule the trainings themselves, many students couldn’t work the sessions into their schedule or didn’t prioritize them.

IFC President Jacob Schafer said the executive board has “full flexibility” to impose “whatever sanctions they see fit,” and that it is ultimately up to the board to determine the severity of the sanctions.

“As many chapters had difficulty scheduling their training session around the Title IX Office’s schedule, and considering this was the first time putting the amendment into practice, we did not find it appropriate to change chapter statuses,” Schafer said in an email.

He said there were roughly 10 sessions offered because chapters scheduled individual training sessions. The IFC also hosted two additional training sessions at the beginning and end of the spring semester that any fraternity member could attend, he said.

Schafer declined to say how many chapters did not comply with the training requirements.

He said if a chapter did not comply with the 80 percent attendance requirement, the chapters were fined $5 for every member below the attendance requirement, and fines will be used to fund future IFC-sponsored educational programming, including Title IX training. Further sanctions may be imposed on chapters if they continue to miss the requirement, Schafer said.

“It is my hope that these training sessions are not being held just to avoid a fine, but to really understand the importance of prevention, the overall severity of the issue and to hold their members accountable,” he said.

Schafer added that all chapters successfully scheduled and hosted a Title IX training session this spring – but three IFC chapter presidents said their chapters did not meet the attendance requirement and were fined.

Jake Greenblatt, the president of Zeta Beta Tau, said his fraternity did not meet the attendance requirement because the training sessions were held at “inopportune times,” with some of the sessions scheduled during finals season.

Greenblatt said he requested to hold a private training for his chapter instead, but given the high demand for such sessions, the IFC “couldn’t meet” his request. He added that he sent several emails to IFC leadership asking for the additional training sessions, but officers were unresponsive for about a month.

“Their communication has been poor,” Greenblatt said. “Sometimes it feels like we are set up to fail.”

Greenblatt said about 30 members of his fraternity did not attend trainings, and the chapter was fined about $115. He said he asked members who didn’t attend without a valid excuse to pay their respective portion of the fine out of pocket.

Sam Mendelson, the president of Lambda Chi, said his chapter was missing 14 percent of the required 80 percent of members by the end of the semester. He said the chapter was fined less than $100 and remains in good standing with the IFC.

Mendelson said it was difficult to convince chapter members to attend trainings because the sessions were inconvenient for members’ schedules, and some students didn’t see the trainings as a priority.

“I don’t think it was that bad at all, it’s not even an hour,” he said. “Sometimes people think it’s a waste of time because they could be doing things that are more important, but really this is just as important.”

Mendelson said in the future, he would take a different approach to ensure that members comply with training requirements, and would like IFC to provide more training sessions each semester so chapter members could find a date that works with their schedules.

“I would definitely host more trainings, since it’s per year and we don’t just have one semester to figure it out, it will be easier to stretch those out and get people to go,” he said. “We’re still playing around with everything.”

Hugh Atkinson, the former president of Phi Delta Theta, said his fraternity was also fined for not meeting the requirement and the group could not meet the requirement because they “were given relatively short notice” about trainings.

“I also tried to plan a couple with the Title IX office and never received a response,” Atkinson said. “We were then forced to take part in ones scheduled by other fraternities instead of being able to host one that worked for our chapter.”

Benjamin Teich, the president of Phi Sigma Kappa, said his chapter complied with the training requirement, and even though each chapter was aware of the sanctions, the IFC still had to remind chapter presidents every week to comply with training requirements.

“You could tell someone something a million times, but they actually have to do it,” he said.

Teich said for chapters like his that did comply with the training requirements, members walked away with a better understanding of issues pertaining to on-campus assault.

“It gets everyone talking,” he said. “We have good conversations, and we’re very realistic and it helps mitigate situations that you don’t want to happen.”

Leah Potter contributed reporting.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Hugh Atkinson is the president of Phi Delta Theta. He is the former president of the chapter. We regret this error.

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