Manage Unsanctioned Greek Organizations
Unsanctioned college fraternities and sororities pose serious safety and liability risks. United Educators (UE) has received many claims involving unaffiliated Greek organizations alleging such issues as hazing, assault, and rape.
Your college or university can be legally bound to manage unsanctioned Greek organizations, especially if your employees are aware of such organizations but do nothing to curtail or manage their activities. Often, these groups are known “bad actors” that have lost their recognition due to campus policy violations. Do this to best manage the risks of unsanctioned fraternities and sororities.
Establish a Policy
Policies on unsanctioned Greek organizations should:
- State that unsanctioned fraternities and sororities exist.
- List unsanctioned groups your institution is aware of, the date the list was created, and, where appropriate, the date your institution removed a group’s recognition.
- List Greek organizations your institution recognizes and the date the list was created.
- Warn of safety risks posed by unsanctioned groups, such as sexual assaults, alcohol violations, or hazing.
- Discourage student participation. Clearly state that your institution doesn’t sanction the group’s activities or provide any support, oversight, or advisement.
- Identify consequences of participating in these groups, including disciplinary action for activities on campus, legal action from the national chapter — if one exists — for violating the organization’s policies, and personal liability for the injuries or claims arising out of the organization’s activities.
- Encourage students to report suspected unsanctioned Greek activities, such as recruiting, and provide contact information for the person or department to receive such reports.
Publicize the Policy
Take these steps to ensure people know about the policy:
- Post it on your website.
- Refer to it at relevant student training programs, such as freshman orientation.
- Train Greek Life staff on the policy.
- Train campus safety officers and student affairs-related staff (such as student activities, risk management, residential) on the policy.
- Include the policy, with lists of recognized and unrecognized chapters, in any handouts about campus Greek opportunities.
- Encourage Greek Life staff and recognized Greek organizations to disseminate the policy during recruitment.
Alert Your Campus About Organizations’ Negative Actions
When unsanctioned Greek organizations attempt to recruit or harm members of your student population, notify your campus. Notifications should include:
- Description of offensive actions
- Potential safety and disciplinary harms posed by participating in unsanctioned Greek activities
- Link to campus policy on unsanctioned Greek organizations
More From UE
Fraternities, Sororities, and Risk: Lessons From Claims
University at Buffalo: Fraternity and Sorority Life
Johnson & Wales University Providence Campus: Fraternity and Sorority Life
Marist College: Fraternity & Sorority Life at Marist
About the Author
Melanie Bennett, Esq.
ARM-E, Senior Risk Management Counsel
In her role on UE’s Risk Research team, Melanie dives into timely topics affecting education. Her areas of expertise include protecting minors, enterprise risk management (ERM), technology accessibility, and athletics. Prior to joining UE, she interned at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Melanie serves on the Higher Education Protection Network’s (HEPNet’s) Board of Directors.
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