The Interfraternity Council published the attendance rates of fraternities at various mandatory educational programs for the first time last September. The results indicated that only five of Penn's 27 fraternities managed to meet the attendance mandate.
This spring, the IFC is taking steps toward solving the attendance problem in its New Member Education program.
Last year, fraternities were required to send three new members to a sexual health education course hosted by Student Health Service, 10 new members to the Vagina Monologues, and every new member to a presentation by Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.
This year, however, fraternities will choose three programs to attend from a list of nine. The options now include a masculinity workshop, the Men & Masculinity Summit, an I CARE mental health training from Counseling and Psychological Services, a SHS Wellness workshop, and an alcohol and drug presentation by First Step with the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives.
IFC President and College junior Reginal Murphy said that while IFC “cannot make people go," he hopes the new options will be “better” at engaging members.
“If things are more interactive and fun, people will want to come,” Murphy said.
“It’s just to give chapters a bit more options in terms of scheduling and content,” said Wharton junior Nico DeLuna, who formerly served as the vice president of New Member Education & Recruitment.
"Giving more options will definitely make it easier and hopefully the chapter will get more value out of it also instead of it just being a checking [of] a box because they have to,” DeLuna said, adding that the 27 different chapters "each have their own different needs."
Murphy said that just as in previous years, fraternities can lose accreditation points if they don't adhere to the new requirements. The more events fraternities miss, the more points they lose — potentially threatening their charter, ability to remain on campus, and ability to hold social events.
The IFC also has the power to fine, which can make an impact, since much of fraternity activity “is predicated on money," Murphy added.
“The IFC takes a strong role in holding their peer organizations accountable and supports them to develop learning opportunities with the guidance of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life," Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Hikaru Kozuma wrote in an email. "By using a tool, such as accreditation, IFC can partner with the individual chapters to meet the needs of their members and community."
However, DeLuna told The Daily Pennsylvanian last year that there wasn't much that the IFC could do to force fraternities to attend the mandatory events, and that publishing the attendance rate was an effort to provide a social incentive.
There are also certain rules governing which three events fraternities can select and the required attendance at each.
One of the three programs must relate to interpersonal violence. The available options include presentations from MARS, Penn Anti-Violence Educators, Penn Association for Gender Equality, and a performance by the Vagina Monologues.
Two of the events have unique attendance requirements. Ten new members would be required to attend the Vagina Monologues, whereas only five new members, because of the time commitment, would be required to attend the six-hour Men & Masculinity Summit on Feb. 3. All other events require all new members to be in attendance.
“We think that [interpersonal violence is] important and that should be addressed no matter what other topics you’re trying to cover. That is one that needs to be covered,” DeLuna said.
Each chapter must also send three new members to a sex camp led by SHS, which will be held on Feb. 9.
Fraternities would also be allowed to attend another event not on the list, as long as they get it approved. Like last year, IFC purchased bulk tickets again for the Vagina Monologues, offering 270 brothers the chance to attend.
“Historically, Greek involvement has been a very big part of the Vagina Monologues," Producer of the Vagina Monologues and College senior Ariana Martino said. "Particularly, they’ve often been some of our biggest donors.”
Vagina Monologues Finance Chair and College junior Nick Hunsicker said, “Every year the feedback they [the IFC] get is that the members enjoyed the production, they learned a lot, it was a great show, but they don’t enjoy feeling the need to attend.”
While Martino doesn’t think requiring members to attend is ideal, she still thinks the experience is essential.
“If they wouldn’t have gone, then they’re never going to learn from the things in it and maybe it’s the people that kind of needed that extra push,” Martino said.
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