Staff editorial – Self-rule revisited

The Universty has, once again, approved self-governance for the Interfraternity Council. The IFC will attempt to enforce policy in minor cases handed down at the discretion of Student Judicial Services. The lack of unity among IFC fraternities is evidence that this experiment granting fraternities the power to regulate their own affairs could again fail and damage GW and the IFC.

IFC President Jay Levin has good intentions in making self-governance a reality for the 11 member fraternities. The policy could, in theory, help foster a more unified and responsible Greek-letter community. Theoretically, fraternity members could adjudicate minor alcohol-related incidents fairly and bring about more responsible practices among fraternities. But recent IFC history and past failed attempts at self-governance show these assertions may be more fantasy than reality.

Lack of cohesion within the IFC has been the stumbling block for past attempts at self-governance, and the current IFC has not shown the necessary cooperation to make this attempt succeed. In its most recent effort to improve campus safety, the IFC wrote a letter last October urging Sigma Alpha Epsilon to curb dangerous behavior. But two IFC fraternities refused to sign it. The IFC’s failure to win full participation on such a clear-cut issue is troubling. Surely the IFC will find enforcing policies against member fraternities more difficult in cases that are not so clear-cut.

The small number of fraternity members trained to hear cases also brings the IFC’s credibility into question. Only 12 students are trained – many from the same fraternities – showing that some fraternities are more serious about self-governance than others. If the group cannot motivate all IFC fraternities to participate equally, how can it expect equal enforcement under its autocratic system?

SJS has taken necessary precautions to ensure another IFC self-governance failure will have minimal affect on the larger University community. The University maintains final authority in cases heard by the IFC board, and decides which cases are suitable to hand over to a board with questionable credibility. Underage and irresponsible drinking – a growing problem for all college campuses – is not a minor issue with faculty, parents and students, and SJS should recognize this when it passes cases to the board.

While the past shows the University administration’s decision to hand over its judicial voice in some cases may have been flawed, the IFC could prove otherwise – but it will take all 11 member fraternities to avoid a self-inflicted calamity.

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