Greek community uses caution on social networking sites

Marquette University sorority members generated some news buzz recently after banning Facebook from rush so recruitment and pledging decisions can be based on face-to-face interaction.

At Purdue University, officers placed two fraternities and a sorority on probation in March after pictures of hazing activities were posted on Facebook.

When it comes to Facebook, sororities and fraternities at TCU have different ideas and attitudes about what can and cannot be posted on the popular social networking Web site.

Fraternities’ concerns regarding Facebook involve current members contacting and possibly swaying potential members, which has been an issue in the past for some, said Tyler Talman, president of Sigma Chi. Sororities are more worried about reflecting positive images through members’ photos, he said.

Kendall Chambers, a sophomore psychology major and member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, said members are required to have clean Facebook pages.

“I wouldn’t say we have to edit pictures, but everything has to represent Gamma Phi in the best light,” Chambers said.

Chambers said there had been issues with members last year who were not aware of Gamma Phi public relations goals. As a result, Gamma Phi drew up a contract this year that requires all new members to be aware of and abide by the sorority’s public relations rules. All new members will be required to sign the contract.

Gamma Phi Beta President Jessica Housley said she was not allowed to comment without approval from Gamma Phi Beta’s national headquarters. A headquarters representative was not available for comment.

Lindsay Ray, Panhellenic Council Executive Board president, said there is no PHC-wide rule concerning the posting of items on Facebook. Instead, Ray said, it is left up to chapters to set guidelines and rules concerning the site.

Ray said photos with alcohol are frowned upon, as are negative comments about chapters.

“If we have problems with repeat offenders, that’s when I step in,” she said.

Ray said no issues have come up so far during her term, so she has not had to implement disciplinary measures.

Evan Berlin, Interfraternity Council president, said fraternities are not allowed to use Facebook to promote social events where alcohol will be present. Fraternities can definitely promote philanthropic events, Berlin said, but not anything that will generate alcohol use.

Berlin said issues for fraternities have occurred concerning Frog Camp and chapter promotion. If a fraternity member is involved with Frog Camp or student orientation staff, he cannot promote his fraternity before, or even after Frog Camp and orientation, he said.

“They can ‘friend’ people on Facebook, but they cannot have direct communication with freshmen with anything relating to fraternity life,” Berlin said.

If an issue occurs, is it labeled a rush infraction and punishment will follow for the person who committed the infraction, he said. A warning is issued to the fraternity to which the student who committed the infraction belongs. Berlin said punishment for the person can range from a fine to community service.

Forbidding Frog Camp and orientation staff members from promoting their fraternity or sorority to freshmen through Facebook used to be an informal rule but was officially incorporated into the bylaws this year, Berlin said.

Members and potential members are not allowed to have alcohol during formal or informal rush, but Berlin said the IFC does not comb through members’ Facebook pages searching for inappropriate photos. Berlin said that if the university was to bring inappropriate photos to the IFC, then the IFC would use the photos for documentation and evidence, but there have been no such issues so far.