Administration seeking to reform traditional induction process
Over induction weekend, LeeU Greek clubs began the process of inducting new members, and staff members implemented a new process of external review that is set to continue for months.
It's been common practice over the years for the student development sector to review induction practices. Every year Greek clubs submit their plans for induction to Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for Student Development, to be approved. Hayes and Alan McClung, dean of students, then conduct check-ins on each Greek club over the course of induction weekend.
But this year, instead of receiving visits from McClung or Hayes, Greek clubs were visited by various staff members from across campus. Next, the university is set to bring in external reviewers to evaluate inductions and the fundraising practices of each Greek club.
“This is all driven by the need to keep students safe and to treat them fairly,” Hayes said. “We also must meet the federal and state guidelines and laws to ensure that we're meeting standards of care in this area. We hope to identify any potential areas of risk and consider ways to minimize or eliminate that risk while helping the Greek community to thrive.”
Some members of Greek clubs saw the new reviews as welcome change.
Sebastian Valderrama, vice president of Pi Kappa Pi, had a positive response to the changes.
“I think the mental and physical safety of students is something that should be of great concern for both faculty and students, so I appreciate Lee’s attempt to better supervise all Greek inductions,” Valderrama said.
Other Greek life members such as Emily Hagan, a senior in Delta Zeta Tau, were on the other end of the spectrum, with mixed feelings about the changes.
“I think in some ways it’s good because there’s accountability involved for the Greek clubs, but in some ways I think that it kind of hinders the traditions,” Hagan said.
Epsilon Lambda Phi’s co-induction chair, Rachel Colitz, warned that members of the Greek community may have resistance to changing traditions.
“Greek clubs have traditions for induction that date back over 50 years. Hazing laws only went into effect in Tennessee in 1995, so that’s when a lot of these traditions became illegal,” Colitz said. “It’s hard when a lot of club members keep in contact with alumni and hear about how things used to be but don’t realize that a lot of those things are illegal now.”
Nik Piantieri from Tau Kappa Omega said that the new monitors are a welcomed addition as long as they’re helping clubs instead of hurting them.
“TKO didn’t have any trouble with the monitors—we did everything pretty much the same way. If it can help the clubs stay focused on what’s important, then that's fine,” Piantieri said.
Hayes is aware of the possible resistance from students at first and remains hopeful that this will be a coordinated effort between Greek clubs and administration to create the best environment possible for students and their experiences.
“I’ve always believed in the idea of preserving core values and developing elastic strategies. I think we can keep the essence of Greek life on our campus and develop even better ways of bringing new members into the clubs,” Hayes said.