The following are responses and comments from various student affairs staff members regarding the recent issues in the Greek Community.
Q: Has or will the administration reach out to the MU student body and/or the Greek community regarding recent controversy with Beta and sorority new members–including ways to keep students away from dangerous alcohol and drug use?
A: Miami staff have already had conversations with student leaders and fraternity and sorority chapter presidents about increased education for fraternity and sorority chapters. All new members are going through the Choices program this semester and we are looking at new programs to launch in addition to bystander education that also launched this year.
Q: If so, what will this look like? If not, why?
A: Continuous and new programming will be offered from the Cliff Alexander Office and from the three individual council programming committees. We will also continue to provide support to student leaders and staff running training for internal standards and judicial boards for each of our chapters. Peer accountability is important. Many issues within chapters can be solved if there is peer accountability for individual members.
Q: What are some of the benefits and rewards of having a strong Greek culture at our university? Some negatives?
A: A strong Greek community cultivates involved student leaders who want to give back. Students learn group dynamics, they organize educational, social and philanthropic events and they develop lifelong, meaningful friendships. They develop leadership skills, provide community service, learn to network and love Miami because of their affiliations. Challenges include that larger communities tend to have larger number of risk management cases, and Miami has numerous chapters. When chapter officers can’t control internal issues, including alcohol misuse, hazing and actions contrary to their core values, they tend to surface as broader issues.
Miami understands and embraces the value of a functional and productive Greek system, and is proud of our rich history with Greek Life. The university expects our Greek organizations to clearly model their organizational ideals and likewise, to be campus leaders with respect to modeling the values embedded in our Code of Love and Honor. The Miami Greek system should be the model system for the entire nation, and each individual chapter should strive to be the model chapter within their organization.
Overall, the university expects all individuals to be responsible for their actions, and it should not be possible to escape consequences behind the veil of an organization. Reciprocally, at the group level, organizations are grounded in the principle that individual members embrace the values of, and ultimately represent through their deeds, the entire organization. Thus, individual actions must have implications for the organization.
Fraternities and sororities are independent self-governing organizations. Consistent with Miami’s institutional values, the best outcome is that we support and empower these students to educate and lead their members in ways that produce outcomes consistent with their own organization’s values. Is this difficult for 18-22 year olds? Yes, it can be.
While it remains up to the national organizations to determine whether the model can work, we’re here to help. Our Cliff Alexander Office of Greek Life and Leadership empowers and supports the leadership to hold member organizations responsible for their behaviors. Miami has many examples of excellent self-governing student organizations on campus, including within the Greek system, that function impressively and illustrate how developmentally valuable these experiences can be.
Dr. Mike Curme
Interim Dean of Students
Ms. Jenny Levering
Director, Cliff Alexander
Office of Greek Life & Leadership
Dr. Scott Walter
Assistant vP of Student Affairs