Many U-M parents first heard about Greek Life a year ago, when some members participated in underage drinking and property damage to ski resorts in northern Michigan. Two Greek Life students, Maddy Walsh and Alex Krupiak, have been part of the solution ever since.
Maddy and Alex serve as co-chairs of the Greek Life Task Force convened by Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones. The Task Force is seeking solutions to ensure these self-governing organizations live up to their founding values - - like brotherhood and sisterhood, philanthropy, scholarship, and leadership.
Maddy Walsh, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, was the President of her chapter and is the immediate past President of the Panhellenic Association. She was the first in her family to join a sorority or fraternity. Her parents, who are faculty members at U-M, were very supportive and welcomed the leadership opportunities her sorority provided. When the ski resort incidents came to light in the national media, Maddy’s parents:
“…understood the magnitude of the impact the ski trips had on the university. However as parents, they understood that this was a small group of students within the community who made bad decisions and were not reflective of the strong friendships I made or the initiatives I planned. They continued to be supportive of the work I was doing and proud to be parents of a member of Greek Life at Michigan.”
Since the incidents of January 2015, Student Life has expanded education and leadership programs for new and prospective fraternity and sorority members, while also increasing risk management efforts and accountability measures. Students responsible faced criminal and civil charges, and some chapters were closed and/or placed on probation as a result.
Now, Greek Life students and others want to find ways to create deep and long-lasting cultural change. The Greek Life Task Force is made up of students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff who are committed to restoring the traditions of excellence in fraternity and sorority life. They have been charged to:
- Collaborate with the national organizations, alumni, and parents who share advisory responsibilities,
- Consider the use of live-in staff within chapter houses,
- More effectively manage risks in the chapter houses,
- Explore the best timing of the recruitment cycle,
- Create a plan for disaffiliated and rogue chapters, including re-affiliation when possible, and
- Engage parents as partners in sustainable solutions!
Task Force Co-Chair Alex Krupiak is a member of Chi Psi Fraternity, where he served as the Vice President of Social Responsibility on the Executive Board. He recently finished his term as President of the Interfraternity Council. He talked with his parents at length about the ski resort incident, as well as the issues facing Greek Life as a whole:
“They have had an open mind and are able to see both the extensive list of positives that Greek Life has presented to me as well as some of the negatives portrayed by the media. They want to see those changed.”
The Task Force will deliver their recommendations to the university and to the sororities and fraternities in April 2016. Maddy Walsh notes:
“I am excited to have so many external stakeholders in the room. With general members, student leaders, professors, student life staff, and others across the university, I believe we have a unique opportunity to approach the challenges we face in new and innovative ways.”
We’d like to hear from you. As a parent of Michigan students, what’s your Greek Life experience? How can we best inspire our students to live up to chapter, community, and campus values? How can parents continue to play a role in reducing high risk behavior on campus?
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