Ohio University’s director of Sorority and Fraternity Life visited Student Senate on Wednesday, Oct. 16, to discuss the recently suspended greek organizations at OU, saying some may be reinstated as soon as next week.
Ariel Tarosky, who was appointed to the position three months ago, discussed with the student senators a variety of topics surrounding last month’s suspensions, including the timetable for reinstatement and concerns surrounding the greek life culture on campus.
“It’s been a slow three months, not a lot has happened,” Tarosky joked, prompting laughter from senators.
She said it’s possible that individual fraternities that have not been issued a cease and desist order will have a chance at reinstatement within the next week.
Tarosky said she met with all 15 suspended Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities last week and asked each of them to compose plans for how the fraternity can improve and be better members of the greek life community.
She proposed, for example, that a suspended organization could limit the amount of alcohol permitted unless its members achieve a certain GPA requirement.
Tarosky said she then will take all of the proposed plans submitted by the fraternities and compile one master IFC guideline, which will then be returned to the fraternities to use as a means by which they can obtain reinstatement.
Tarosky also expressed concern with what she perceives to be a greek life culture of excessive drinking and other substance abuse among OU fraternities.
She asked Student Senate to list what they believe greek life's values are; one senator said brotherhood/sisterhood, another said community.
“Do you really think that is what they’ve been valuing after the past two weeks?” Tarosky replied.
One student said OU greek life has had a “party culture” that is exclusive and pushes others out.
Tarosky said the university ultimately has several problems in its Greek life culture, and suggested one of them is the gap between perception, reality and the desired positive values of the greek community.
“If I didn’t know, and I don’t really know because I’ve only been here for three months, but (to the outsider) the (Greek life) community does value alcohol, they value hazing, they probably value sexual violence – because of the conversations around the banners in the past few years.” Tarosky said. “But they do value brotherhood and sisterhood, because I’ve seen some communities pull together during over this stuff.”
On Friday, according to an OU spokesperson, Tarosky said that she was trying to explain to student senators that the drinking, hazing, banners, etc., is the larger perception of the greek community at OU. She indicated she wants to change that. “My goal from the start was to figure out what structures, activities, events and programs need to be created to better align ourselves and showcase those core values of philanthropy, service, sisterhood, brotherhood, academics." (The quote was relayed to The Athens NEWS by the OU spokesperson.
In the Student Senate meeting, Tarosky also stressed that “due process” is still being observed, and no formal charges against any fraternity or sorority have been produced yet – only allegations of wrongdoing.
Ultimately, she expressed hope that greek life will return under stronger and more direct leadership.
Also attending the Student Senate meeting, Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said fraternities found to be in violation will receive sanctions with conditions and guidelines, individually tailored to each organization.
An example of how consequences will be meted out to organizations would be to require an adviser to sit in on initiations, in addition to probation for the fraternity or other group, Hall-Jones said.
Like Tarosky, Jayden McAdams, Student Senate treasurer and president of Phi Delta Theta, said he’s optimistic the suspensions will prove to be an opportunity for members of greek life at OU to right the ship.
“It’s a whole new landscape that we will have to work closely with IFC and Sorority and Fraternity Life to see changes, so I’m really excited to see how it goes,” McAdams said.
He said he believes his fraternity will probably be removed from suspension next week.
RaeAnn Ensworth, senator for Sorority and Fraternity Life and member of the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, said she was excited to see the dialogue unfold at the meeting.
“I thought it went really well – it was a good discussion,” Ensworth said. “I think discussions like this are important that we have with people who aren’t members of the sorority and fraternity life community; (the suspensions) impact you too, whether or not you are brothers and sisters.”