ITHACA, N.Y. — Reforms are coming to Cornell University’s Greek system, which has been under scrutiny after numerous incidents of hazing and misconduct.
The changes to Cornell’s Greek system come at the same time as an announcement that the Sigma Nu fraternity’s recognition is being revoked over hazing incidents.
University president Martha Pollack outlined the upcoming changes in a letter to the community Thursday.
Pollack said though members of Greek letter organizations have made positive contributions to the community and helped “foster a vibrant community spirit” on campus, over the years and recent months the organizations’ legacy has been marred by numerous incidents of hazing and other misconduct.
The university does not provide detail on Sigma Nu’s hazing incidents, but said “this latest incident along with other pending cases and allegations of hazing on campus are extremely disturbing.”
Even more troubling, Pollack said, is the fact that these are just the latest incidents in an ongoing pattern of hazing by various Greek letter organizations on campus.
“I believe that it is important for the community to understand that the behavior in question goes well beyond innocent fun. It includes extremely coercive, demeaning, sexually inappropriate and physically dangerous activities that jeopardize students’ health and lives. The danger of such reckless actions cannot be ignored. Such activities are not tolerated in society and must stop in our Greek letter organizations,” Pollack said in the statement.
A Cornell fraternity made national headlines earlier this year when the university found some Zeta Beta Tau members had a “pig roast contest” where new members got points for having sex with women.
Pollack outlined a number of changes that will take place over the next few years. Immediate changes include suspension and loss of recognition for substantiated acts of hazing for at least three years. Also, effective immediately, hard alcohol is not permitted in a residential chapter house at any time.
Changes in Fall 2018 will include an online scorecard that will publish the full judicial history of each chapter, updated annually. Prospective and current members will also have to participate in mandatory educational programming.
By 2021, all residential fraternities and sororities must have a full-time, live-in adviser.
The university’s board of trustees also unanimously supported Pollack’s reforms in response to the “troubling pattern” of hazing.
“Cornell’s Greek letter organizations have a long and rich tradition of contributing to the university and to the greater community. Hazing and related behaviors that threaten the health and safety of students is a stain on that legacy,” a statement read. “We share President Pollack’s hope that these reforms will lead to an elevated level of behavior within the Greek letter organizations that fully embraces our shared values as Cornellians.”