by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2017-2019 NPC Chairman
“Just as it’s on us all to fight sexual assault, it’s also on us all to fight against hazing, alcohol abuse and dangerous social cultures on college campuses. Simply put, sorority women must be more engaged as advocates in this fight.” – Carole Jones
While there have always been challenges in the fraternity/sorority community, the recent campus tragedies and events weigh on the hearts and minds of all who work to advocate and preserve the sorority experience. These incidents reinforce that we have an obligation and a duty to re-double our efforts on campus safety. Just as it’s on us all to fight sexual assault, it’s also on us all to fight against hazing, alcohol abuse and dangerous social cultures on college campuses. Simply put, sorority women must be more engaged as advocates in this fight.
Abusive alcohol consumption and its secondhand effects – sexual assault, vandalism, violence and negative community relations – are not new problems among college students. And, there have been – and still are – many efforts to combat these issues over the years. In 1983, what is now the Coalition of Higher Education Associations for Substance Abuse Prevention (CoHEASAP) began their work promoting education, prevention, research and other initiatives to help eliminate substance abuse and its related problems on college campuses.
In 2004, the Franklin Square Group developed recommendations designed to eliminate negative collegiate fraternity and sorority behaviors involving high-risk alcohol use. The group consisted of college and university presidents and inter/national Greek-letter organization executive directors.
Also in the early 2000s, the 26 member organizations that comprise the National Panhellenic Conference adopted standards that tightened membership requirements and raised the bar for student membership in our organizations.
Yet, old problems persist, new issues arise and member organizations evolve. These different opportunities and challenges profoundly impact the operations and strategy of NPC. It is ongoing work we take seriously.
Today, our message to host institutions, and particularly to our student life colleagues, is that we want to partner with you. Student safety is too important for us to do anything other than work together. We’ve always known that rules alone are not sufficient, so we must create cultures where students advocate for one another. We believe this can happen, and we believe it can happen in ways that also respect the rights of students.
To that end, NPC is an organization that can bring together leaders from across the industry to work toward creating the kind of campus culture we aspire to build everywhere. In January, the NPC Executive Committee will convene a gathering of campus administrators and subject matter experts to work toward creating opportunities to address critical issues within our Panhellenic communities. This will be just the first step in NPC’s “Call for Critical Change,” and it will be our focus in the coming months.
We have an opportunity to work together to find sustainable ways to address some of the pressing issues within our fraternity and sorority communities. As one colleague stated during the recent AFA annual meeting, “We have to change the culture faster than it was created.”