Editor’s note: Letters to the Editor are sent to the Nevada Sagebrush, written by members of the community. They are not edited or touched in any way by the Nevada Sagebrush staff.
In response to the recent article titled “University Greek Life Policies Inhibits Philanthropy Success, Causes Divides Amongst Members”, we found it necessary to accurately inform the student body of how the current standing policies affect everyone. While presenting what seems to be reliable facts, it is important to receive correct information from all perspectives of an issue.
Although it may not have been malicious or intentional, the article had many inconsistencies. The author of the article, Olivia Ali, did a notable job of reaching out to the Independent Interfraternity Council (IIFC); however, she failed to reach out to the equivalent council recognized by and affiliated with the University, the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
With that said, Ali respectively reached out to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, but she did so in a relatively inefficient manner. Ali contacted the office on Thursday, August 30th, two days before Labor Day weekend, and requested a phone interview without any indication of urgency or any form of a deadline. Immediately after Labor Day, the article was published, leaving viewpoints ignored and underrepresented due to a lack of effort in acquiring different points of view.
If the title of the article was legitimate, all of the following members of Fraternity and Sorority Life would be affected: Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and Panhellenic Council (PHC). The author failed to reach out to any of these councils and instead relied on an unnamed member’s opinion, whose knowledge of the matter is unknown. Ali should have reached out to the executive officers of all three governing councils, as these individuals were elected to represent their respective members appropriately. These executive officers are up-to-date on all proceedings that have occurred with unrecognized chapters and would have been able to communicate accurate information. The perspective of each University-recognized council, and the 31 chapters associated with them, remained unheard on matters directly pertaining to them.
In the article, several statements made were false, and we’d like to maintain transparency by clarifying each topic. The anonymous sorority member in the article states that, “Sororities are also not allowed to wear disaffiliated fraternity apparel.” In truth, fraternity men and sorority women alike should not be wearing other organizations’ attire to begin with. These are not University policies; these are rules enforced by our inter/national organizations and associations. As inter/nationally-recognized social fraternities and sororities, we do not exist as co-ed organizations through the federal government’s eyes. We have lasted this long as single-sex organizations because we do not give people the reason to believe we are co-ed otherwise. Wearing each other’s letters directly associates men and women in one organization, which is not allowed.
Furthermore, after learning the rituals, traditions, and values that make up our organizations, we do in fact take pride in wearing our letters. Each organization has a separate new member process that is rigorous and informative in its own way. It is a sign of disrespect to our founders to allow members outside of our own organization to wear our sacred symbols for other reasons.
The sorority member later describes that, “It feels like FSL [Fraternity and Sorority Life] is control hungry… they want to dictate what we wear, who we are friends with, and etc.” Realistically, all members of the community should understand that other organizations’ attire is off limits. The only exceptions are unity shirts that represent a multitude of University-recognized organizations and social event shirts made between University-recognized organizations.
In addition to that, we are in no way limiting friendships. Men and women of fraternities and sororities can maintain relationships with anyone, including unrecognized members. In fact, we, as council presidents, hold friendships with several members of unrecognized fraternities.
Next, Ali writes, “…the Office of FSL has also ordered that unrecognized fraternity members are not to attend sorority philanthropy events and vice versa.” The policies outlined here at the University are enforced by many inter/national fraternities and sororities due to the liability that any unrecognized group may create. In actuality, members of unrecognized groups can attend philanthropic events as individuals, separate from forming physical teams that may be identified as unrecognized fraternities. In fact, many unrecognized fraternity members appropriately showed support for philanthropy events this past semester; they attended and donated as Nevada students. An issue only arises if their organization can be identified. After all, if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck…it’s a duck.
Following that, the anonymous sorority member continues with, “…this takes huge amounts of potential money away from these organizations because there are a significant number of chapters that have more than, let’s say, 50 members…” The five unrecognized chapters only consist of about 300-350 men while the University’s entire student population remains over 20,000. Our organizations’ philanthropic success should not rely on such a small population. Instead, we encourage University-recognized chapters to put more effort into welcoming students that may be unfamiliar with our community.
Brennan Jordan then states that, “We [unrecognized fraternities] were not permitted to donate money to sorority philanthropies such as Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Court Appointed Special Advocates…or Service for Sight…” It is true that University-recognized organizations are not permitted to accept donations from unrecognized groups as it implies that both chapters participating in the same activity. Currently, there are no policies against the individual members of unrecognized organizations donating without the umbrella of their chapter to identify them. Additionally, unrecognized groups are still able to give back to the community and donate directly to national nonprofit foundations on behalf of their chapter.
Lastly, the source mentions, “I know someone who is in another chapter that got in trouble for liking a Twitter post from the IIFC.” In general, fraternity men and sorority women can follow, like, and maintain friendships with anyone. Specific inter/national policies apply where Panhellenic women are not permitted to assist fraternities, recognized and unrecognized alike, in any way during their recruitment process. For instance, by having women like fraternity posts and attend fraternity parties, interested new members of a fraternity might associate sororities that favor that chapter over another. Overall, our recruitment processes remain independent to encourage members to join for the appropriate reasons.
While it is understood that many people are frustrated with the changes, we would like to remind everyone that the unrecognized fraternities referenced in the article made a voluntary choice not to seek University recognition after failing to communicate disagreements to policies that are discussed during a 7-month editing period each year. Today, 18 fraternities and 13 sororities remain on campus. It is our duty now to move forward and focus on improving organizations that are willing to make necessary changes for the betterment of the community.
Tristan San Luis, University of Nevada, Reno Interfraternity Council President
Chelsea Taylor, University of Nevada, Reno Multicultural Greek Council President
Maryana Shamoun, University of Nevada, Reno Panhellenic Council President