With issues of sexual assault and relationships between chapters, Panhellenic has officiated a disassociation with the Interfraternity Council and produced a system for future reintegration
Throughout the past year, organizations within the UC Davis Greek-life community have had numerous allegations of sexual assault and hazing. After years of unsuccessful and individualized disassociation with fraternities, Panhellenic has officially called for total disconnection from all fraternities.
This pivot was made by the Panhellenic executive board and in conjunction with all sorority chapters. Siena King, a third-year human development major and president of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, discussed these movements. King said that their changes were a response to sexual assault cases as well as the perceptions of, and assumptions about, Greek life.
“Sexual assault and rape culture is definitely a big driving force behind this,” King said. “[There is an] underlying culture that this is the way things are: it’s white, it’s straight, it’s flat, it doesn’t change. It feels like it’s not progressive.”
By separating from fraternities, King said that the overarching goal is to allow women to thrive and be immersed in women-identifying organizations. Currently, the modeled structure for disassociation follows California’s COVID-19 tiered plan. During this conditional moment with online school, King stated that the first step is complete dissociation where all chapters are disinvited from philanthropies and activities, activities that are currently remote. If growth is shown during this conditional period, then fraternities could potentially be invited to participate in philanthropies as the first tier in the process.
When classes return to being in person, King said that the next possible tier allows for monitored interaction in a safe space and avoiding high-risk situations where alcohol is involved. Individual fraternities must follow expectations during this conditional quarter, ensure safety during monitored events and must successfully implement action items and processes to regain a relationship with Panhellenic.
Action items have been established as checklists that fraternities must follow and enact successfully in order to regain Panhellenic relationships. According to King, action items include: reporting all steps toward sexual assault training and education to the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic presidents, establishing anonymous surveys on social media for feedback, meeting with Center for Advocacy, Resources and Education (CARE) and ensuring that 90% of chapter members are participating during sexual assault program meetings. Davis chapters are also expected to connect with national chapters, and advisors and board executives should undergo training for the handling of sexual assault cases. There is also the possibility of introducing new programming that offers specialized training for men. Bylaws and policies must also be reviewed to ensure safety for women, and plans are required on how cases would be addressed and filed. Moreover, there is an added emphasis on the standards and training for sexual assault prevention during a pledge or candidate’s recruitment process.
Antonio Caraza, a fourth-year mechanical and aerospace engineering major at UC Davis and president of Pi Kappa Phi, similarly believes that fraternities require a unified approach to overcoming IFC-wide issues regarding sexual assault. He emphasized a basic need for personal responsibility and accountability.
“Not just survivors doing the work but working with them to actively resolve the situation” Caraza said.
Similarly, IFC also requested action items from Panhellenic to solidify a stronger and safer relationship. King said that IFC wished for executives to be trained in sexual assault prevention, have a minimum of 90% participation at sexual assault program meetings, promote CARE education and executive position with CARE, support survivors and prioritize safey at all events.
Overall, all outlined expectations and action items are still new and are undergoing adjustments and may shift as needed.
King hopes that fraternities will formulate an environment predicated on respect, education and preventative programs that eliminate harm.
“Less toxic masculinity, more support of survivors, [and eliminate] the bro code of silence when it comes to taboo topics like this,” King said.
In the future, Caraza aims for an overall shift in mindsets and normalized actions.
He outlined Pi Kappa Phi’s continuous goal to educate pledges and bring sexual assault awareness during the initation process. Caraza seeks transparency regarding the severity and the consequences of assault, asserting that it’s never tolerated.
“The blame gets put on other things like alcohol or they might say that the intention of someone else was showing toward them,” Caraza said. “That’s very subjective and at the end of the day does not matter. You should not be taking advantage of others.”
Beyond his own chapter, Caraza believes that real change can only be possible with individualized change among all chapters. Mindsets, actions and programs need to be pivoted so that members of all chapters stand with survivors and are not perpetrators.
“As obvious as it is, just see the situation and do the right thing,” Caraza said.
For him, the issue returns to instilling clear IFC-wide consequences and uniting as an
organization to universally stand against misdemeanors. There needs to be proper education and chapter-wide efforts to foster respect, accountability and awareness, Caraza said.
King also discussed a cultural shift, stating that this program is a step toward accountability and building respect within the Greek community.
“That’s why we’re calling it a culture shift rather than a disaffiliation with action steps,” King said. “Because it truly is going down to the roots of what the culture within fraternities and inter-greek relations look like and trying to change it.”
Beyond Greek organizations, she stated that she hopes the program will benefit Davis students in general.
“This isn’t just for the safety of our own members,” King said. “Everyone deserves to be safe in Davis, everyone deserves to be safe in a Greek life situation. Even if you’re not in Greek life, this affects everyone on campus.”
Written by: Farrah Ballou — firstname.lastname@example.org