by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2017-2019 NPC Chairman
Cherry blossoms weren’t the only things making their presence known in Washington, D.C., during the month of April. On April 10, more than 250 fraternity and sorority members, both alumni and students, were on Capitol Hill advocating for sororities and fraternities and the value the experience provides to our members.
Our organizations create a unique community of support. They are the one place on a college campus, where through a shared single-sex experience, young women or men can enjoy a sense of belonging, empowerment and personal development.
This is why, each year since 2002, the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition (FGRC), which is a collaborative effort between the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), Fraternity/Sorority Political Action Committee (FSPAC) and Fraternity and Sorority Action Fund (FSAF), goes to Washington, D.C., to advocate for and educate legislators on the value of sororities and fraternities and the policy priorities important to NPC and NIC.
The FGRC collectively represents 92 single-sex fraternities and sororities nationwide with more than 800,000 undergraduate members at over 9,500 chapters on almost 700 campuses, as well as more than 9.1 million alumni. The NPC and NIC set and execute the advocacy agenda for the FGRC.
This year, our group had more than 460 meetings on Capitol Hill between fraternity/sorority members and legislators or their staff, focused on the value of the fraternity/sorority experience and two higher education policy priorities. The first priority is to ensure our members’ freedom of association rights are not being violated by any institution of higher education that accepts federal financial aid. The second is for Congress to enhance federal disclosure laws related to hazing so parents and students will know which student organizations provide an experience that is meaningful and does not risk the health and safety of members.
These topics directly align with the NPC Government Relations Platform, specifically Pillar One: Preservation of the sorority experience and Pillar Two: Advancement of student and campus safety.
Working together with like-minded individuals and organizations, we will continue to build support for the soon-to-be-introduced Collegiate Freedom of Association Act (CFAA), which focuses on:
- Preserving students’ ability to choose the organization they want to associate with by preventing universities from taking adverse actions against students who are members of fraternities and sororities simply because they chose to join a single-sex organization.
- Protecting the rights of single-sex organizations to define their own membership criteria by preventing universities from requiring our organizations to admit members that do not meet our membership criteria.
- Providing all student organizations with equal treatment under the law by ensuring universities cannot impose operational policies or restrictions on single-sex organizations, including the timing of recruitment, that are not imposed on other student organizations.
We are also working with elected officials to introduce the END ALL Hazing Act that requires colleges and universities to have a webpage with information about any student organization that has been disciplined for hazing or other misconduct that threatened the well-being of students in the last five years. Additionally, we continue to support the REACH Act (H.R. 662/S. 706) – Report and Educate About Campus Hazing – which would require universities to include incidents of hazing in their Clery Act reporting and provide students with educational programming related to hazing.
Our organizations’ values of character and dignity guide our members in their daily lives as they serve their university communities. The value of protecting our single-sex experience and keeping our members safe now and into the future cannot be overstated, and NPC will continue to lead the way in advocating for the sorority experience and the health and safety of our members.