Nov. 4, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University has entered into a new relationship with its social fraternities and sororities with the signing Nov. 3 of a statement of relationship that sets out expectations between WMU and its Greek-letter organizations.
The statement was signed by representatives of the WMU administration, including Dr. Theresa A. Powell, vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Diane K. Swartz, dean of students. WMU representatives of the InterFraternity Council, the National Panhellenic Conference and the National Pan-Hellenic Council also signed the agreement along with representatives of each chapter.
WMU is the first public university in Michigan to define its relationship to Greek-letter organizations in this manner. Other schools nationally that have done so include Pennsylvania State University, the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Pittsburgh.
"The statement was developed by a task force on Greek life that was established during the winter 1997 semester to ensure that the Greek system at WMU continues to prosper," said Paul F. Iagnocco, director of student life in the Division of Student Affairs. "It outlines WMU's belief in the positive potential that exists in its Greek-letter organizations."
The statement is divided into seven areas: academic achievement; membership recruitment and development; chapter development and operations; campus relations; community relations; University support services; and social event responsibilities.
For example, the statement sets minimum grade point averages for students to be recruited or retained in the system, requires chapters to enforce "zero tolerance" for hazing and requires all events where alcohol is present to be registered with appropriate authorities.
The statement calls on WMU to implement an alumni endowment to supplement financial support for annual educational programming, to maintain current levels of professional staff support and to offer funds to create a campus-wide publication for Greek-letter organizations. It also requires WMU and the InterFraternity Council, the National Panhellenic Conference and the National Pan-Hellenic Council to fund a graduate assistantship to help implement task force recommendations.
"The task force was charged with reviewing Greek history and developing a vision and a plan for its future," Iagnocco says. "With the statement, WMU joins a small but growing number of institutions across the nation on the cutting edge of defining positive relationships between them and their Greek-letter organizations."
Each chapter was given the opportunity to ratify the statement, and well over the necessary two-thirds endorsed it for it to be binding on all chapters at WMU. WMU has 35 Greek-letter organizations with more than 2,000 WMU students in 21 social fraternities and 14 social sororities.
"Through this statement, the University pledges to provide support, resources and professional assistance to help the Greek system achieve its aspirations of providing positive alternative living and social opportunities," he continued.
"The statement means that WMU supports members of Greek-letter organizations and their goals of encouraging academic success and leadership development while fostering spirit and pride in their alma mater," he said.
"With this support, WMU intends to hold its Greek-letter organizations to the highest standards of conduct," Iagnocco stressed. "It is a statement of mutual accountability and responsibility."
In recent years, WMU's Greek system has continued to steadily expand while participation in Greek-letter organizations nationally has been stagnant or in decline, he said.
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