University freezes Greek life recruitment

Kappa Delta Rho fraternity members line the streets at New Student Convocation on Aug. 23 before the university announced Greek life organizations cannot intake new members. Photo by Megan Lee

Katharine DeRosa, News Editor

Greek life organizations gave away free goodies, taught chants to students and created email sign-up lists in anticipation of recruitment at the Student Organization Fair. One week later, the university announced a freeze on fraternity and sorority recruitment and intake. 

“All new fraternity and sorority member activities, including recruitment and intake, are postponed until further notice,” stated Dean of Students Reuben Rodriguez in the announcement. “The university will announce the dates on which fraternities and sororities are authorized to resume these activities.”

Director of Communications for Student Affairs Matt Lovisa said the decision was made on Aug. 2. The announcement was made to the public on Sept. 3. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is working with Greek life organizations to potentially allow recruitment this semester, Lovisa stated in an email.

Lovisa stated Greek life organizations were present at the Student Organization Fair because it was open to all student organizations.

Although fraternities and sororities are not allowed to recruit and intake new members, they are still allowed to represent and conduct normal operations as student organizations at the university,” Lovisa stated.

In a previous interview, senior economics and finance major and Phi Gamma Delta member Michael Portillo said recruitment is the most important part of fraternity operations and oftentimes costs the most money.

“Recruitment is what keeps chapters alive,” Portillo said. “You want to make sure that you’re getting quality people.”

Lovisa stated all Greek organizations must have at least eight members at any given time to be registered with the university.

“You need to let people know that you exist,” Portillo said. “We’re always trying to broaden our pool, get to know more students with certain majors, more honor college students, more students from nontraditional backgrounds to join.”

Alcohol is also banned from all events held by recognized student organizations where undergraduate students are present. This recommendation is in compliance with Dyad Strategies’ report, which states it is unrealistic for the university to expect underage people to not participate in alcohol consumption.

Zeta Tau Alpha was one of many sororities lined up to cheer on students at New Student Convocation before the University announced Greek life organizations cannot intake new members. Photo by Megan Lee

The university released its internal review in conjunction with the Dyad Strategies external review. The university’s review states which recommendations from Dyad Strategies the university will take.

The reviews stemmed from the death of freshman Adam Oakes on Feb. 27. Oakes’ family says he died of hazing at a Delta Chi fraternity party. Delta Chi was put on cease-and-desist orders the day after Oakes’ death and officially expelled from campus on June 3, three months after Oakes’ death.

Senior Vice Provost for Student Affairs Charles Klink sent out a campus-wide announcement on March 2, announcing the hiring of Dyad Strategies and the university’s commitment to “a safe and healthy campus.”

“Simply put, this cannot happen again,” Klink stated. “VCU is dedicated to acting now, and will be ready to do more pending outcomes of the police investigation.”

The university’s anti-hazing plan will not be established until Summer 2022, according to its internal review. Lovisa called the installment of the anti-hazing plan “sequential” because many steps are tied to new administrative positions.

“We just completed the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life search and will be launching a search for a Hazing Prevention Coordinator who will assist in putting this program together by Summer 2022, if not, sooner,” Lovisa stated.

Other recommendations the university intends to take additional time to review include a diversity, equity and inclusion plan, revamping the Big Brother program and developing recognized off-campus housing for members of Greek life.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated VCU Dean of Students Reuban Rodriguez attributed the halt in Greek life recruitment to Dyad Strategies’ external review.

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