Fraternities’ separation from campus can make it harder for UNC to hold them accountable to the University’s alcohol policy, said Jonathan Sauls, dean of students for student affairs.
In a High Risk Alcohol and Substance Abuse Working Group meeting last week, Sauls said UNC has been content to have “an arm’s length relationship” with Interfraternity Council organizations.
“My use of that sort of term is just a recognition that Greek life on this campus is different than those other models, and as as a result, we’re not in the same position of regulation because they are off-campus, privately owned property,” Sauls said. “We can’t just roll over like we would in a residence hall and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do a walk-through.’”
This puts a greater responsibility on fraternity members to make sure policies are enforced, said Aaron Bachenheimer, director of the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement.
These fraternities are operating under multiple layers of policy, Bachenheimer said. University policy applies to them as student organizations, but individual chapters also have their own risk-management policies — which include guidelines for social functions with alcohol — that often come from their national headquarters. Campus councils have policies members must adhere to as well.
Bachenheimer said most of these policies are almost identical, but the layers can prove challenging when it comes to holding people accountable for violations. Historically, the University has deferred to councils when violations are reported, often leaving students responsible for deciding how their peers will be sanctioned, Bachenheimer said.
He said peer accountability can be challenging, even though IFC members have good intentions.
“I’m not sure they always know how to do the right thing, and they need a lot of support to do the right things,” he said.
Peter Diaz, president of the IFC, said the council seriously commits to not showing bias.
“Initially when looking at it from an outside perspective, it’s easy to say, ‘These are fraternity guys judging fraternity guys,’” he said. “But I think if you’re in the conversations and understand the spirit of the IFC, you see we really are a legitimate organization, and we take our job very seriously.”
Although he said much of the attention directed toward fraternities is not unwarranted, Diaz said the visibility of fraternities often makes them an easy target for criticism — much easier than critiquing campus culture as a whole.
Sauls recognized the importance of involving multiple spheres of campus to effect real change.
“You don’t change culture overnight,” he said. “They are like big, big ocean liners that require a certain amount of time and radius to turn.”