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Amid a recent uptick in event closures, more fraternities face the possibility of having their parties shut down. Here's what happens after the doors to these fraternity houses are closed by the Penn Police Department. 

When parties are shut down, whether due to safety violations or to the failure of the fraternity to register the event with the University, the student-run Judicial Inquiry Board of the Interfraternity Council convenes to determine the case's severity and to dole out an appropriate punishment.  

“The role of JIB is to investigate alleged violations to policy and sanction accordingly,” wrote Eddie Banks-Crosson, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, in an email. 

For the past two months, many students have expressed frustration over the surge in social event closures and the overall higher level of security enforced upon all social events as a result of the recommendations of a task force convened in the wake of offensive emails distributed by the off-campus organization OZ.  

One of the recently implemented recommendations was the introduction of event observers who are tasked with patrolling the Penn area three nights a week to shut down parties violating the University's latest guidelines concerning event registration. 

Photo: Camille Rapay

According to JIB's constitution, "The goals of the IFC Judicial Inquiry Board process are to compel adherence to both University and IFC policies, to resolve conflicts within the Fraternity community, and to promote high standards of conduct."

Former JIB Manager, Psi Upsilon member and College senior Toby Milligan said that while JIB conducts the process to determine punishment for different violations, Banks-Crosson has the ability to overturn their decision. The issue is then returned to the students who reconvene and restart their discussion on potential sanctions until it is approved. 

“JIB is comprised entirely of students. However, that being said, the whole group holds each other accountable, as opposed to the University saying, ‘This is your punishment,'” Milligan said. 

Decisions are based on a predetermined rubric created by JIB, approved by OFSL and voted on by IFC-affiliated chapters.

"The rubric states that if you do 'X,' the punishment will be 'Y.' We introduced it to formalize the potential punishments and provide transparency to chapter presidents so they can make better decisions," Milligan said. 

Alleged violations are ranked on the basis of severity from a Level 0 case — meaning that the fraternity is "not likely guilty" according to JIB's constitution — to a Level 3 case — which can include cases involving accusations of hazing or "the use of alcohol during rush."  

If a fraternity were to host an unregistered party, it could either get a warning or a strike based on the size of the event, Milligan said.

According to JIB's constitution, unregistered parties are considered a Level 1 case, which is presided over by only the JIB manager and JIB members. But if the fraternity has already received "two sanctions regarding an unregistered party that are greater than a warning," the violation is considered a Level 2 case which is decided by the JIB manager, JIB members, a member of the Multicultural Greek Council and a representative from the Panhellenic Council. 

Milligan added that if the case concerns a safety hazard — such as being caught with a chair covering a doorway during a party or having people on the roof — the fraternity would usually have to pay a fine, which would be used by the IFC for scholarship or philanthropy events. 

While there has been a recent increase in the number of fraternity parties being shut down, more chapters are agreeing to adhere to the new policies, Milligan said. He added that fraternities have no other choice but to comply. 

Luis Hernandez Magro, College junior and president of Alpha Chi Rho, commonly known as Crows, said that although his fraternity has not had parties shut down this semester, he sensed that the University has become stricter in handling reported issues with fraternity parties. 

Although Crows has not run into trouble with event observers this semester, it recently received a punishment for a party that was shut down in April, according to Magro. He said that he thinks the high volume of parties recently being reported prevented JIB from issuing a punishment for Crows in a timelier manner. 

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