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TCU 360

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Title IX implication changes recruitment rules

The National Panhellenic Council passed a new rule in October that prohibited all sorority members from engaging in fraternity recruitment activities.

The university’s Panhellenic President Lisa Allen said this included attendance at any formal or informal [fraternity] rush parties, bid day or night activities and wearing fraternity rush T-shirts.

Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Shannon Sumerlin said the rule was passed by NPC in order to help fraternities and sororities maintain their exemption from the Title IX law.

Under the Title IX law, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

However, the law does exclude specific groups including most private school institutions, groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and fraternity and sorority organizations. The exemption comes from the belief that these organizations work because they are single-sex and there is an equal opportunity for both sexes to join the respective organization. 

Congress has been questioning whether or not there is still a need for single-sex organizations, according to an article by The Tartan. The article stated many colleges are finding “extreme cases” of intermingling between sorority and fraternity members, which is raising the issue of whether or not they need to be separate.

The article also stated in order to prove sororities work as truly single-sex organizations and to preserve what the founders of these organizations wanted, which is to be single-sex, NPC passed the rule.

Many Greek members were asked by their chapter presidents not to comment on the issue, but when the rule first came to light, many fraternity and sorority members responded negatively.

“The big drama has been with the T-shirts,” Allen said. “You aren’t supposed to have women wearing shirts that say ‘go XYZ’ fraternity.”

However, she said the men are allowed to make shirts with their fraternity letters on them, but must leave off words such as “rush,” “pledge” or “go” if they want sorority women to be able to wear them.

Interfraternity Council Executive Vice President Ryan Fanning said he knew there were mixed responses to the rule, but he believed IFC and NPC would work together to reach new ideas on how to change rush and the parties to fit in with the requirements of the rule.

“We just have to support [sororities] through this process and look for ways to talk with the fraternities and see what ways can we change and help our rush out through this process,” he said. 

There has been a lot of discussion over what qualifies as a rush party. Sorority women wondered how they were supposed to know whether or not they were in violation of the rule.

Sumerlin said NPC is using the same standard they would when defining what qualifies as a chapter event, a “reasonable person standard.” This means asking the question: Would a reasonable person be talking about the gathering as a recruitment event or as a group of friends hanging out?

Allen said what she believed was a good rule of thumb, and what she had been telling the chapters, was if the individual feels as if they should not be there, then they probably should not be there. 

Besides students being upset over the restrictions, Allen and Fanning said there had been questions as to why TCU specifically was implementing the rule. 

Sumerlin said the rule was agreed upon unanimously by all 26 national chapters, 12 of which are on campus. This means all sororities affiliated with NPC, whether in Texas or another state, will be implementing the rule, she said. 

“It’s not just a TCU policy, but it’s something that we all agree to as sorority women no matter where we are affiliated,” Sumerlin said.

Fanning said it was important for fraternity presidents to cooperate with the rule.

“We really have to let the fraternity presidents know and understand that this is a national rule, and it’s not the TCU sororities doing this as some people may think,” Fanning said.

Though the rule is already in effect, Allen and Sumerlin said they are still working to help sorority women understand why the university implemented the rule and that sorority and fraternity members can still remain friends without breaking it.

Allen said there is not a concrete punishment for a woman caught breaking this rule, and violations would be handled on a case by case basis. It will most likely involve either a recruitment infraction, which would cost the individual’s sorority a fine, or placing the individual on social probation.

Sumerlin said NPC is still working on the specifics behind the rule and plans to use the rest of the year to work out issues like punishments and defining what this rule means for TCU’s students specifically. 

“I think this is going to be a real year of learning for us and an opportunity to define what those events look like,” Sumerlin said. “But it’s definitely not something that we want to define administratively; We want the culture of the community to figure out what those events look like.”

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