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All new fraternity members must attend a workshop at their chapter house facilitated by MARS.

Credit: Hannah Lazar

The Interfraternity Council has increased attendance mandates and number of required workshops for the New Member Education program after years of low turnout among fraternity members.

The six-week program consists of four required workshops conducted by Counseling and Psychological Services, Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives, Campus Health, and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault for new members before being officially initiated into their chapter, IFC President and College junior Louis Galarowicz said. This will be the first year at least 80 percent of new members in each fraternity will be required to attend the AOD and CAPS sessions, Galarowicz added.

Galarowicz, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, added all new members must also attend a workshop at their chapter house facilitated by MARS.

Last year, IFC required all new members to attend the MARS workshop but did not have a specific attendance mandate for the workshops hosted by CAPS, Campus Health, and AOD from which each chapter picked two to attend.

The changes to the NME program were made to ensure more new members attend the workshops and create a more effective conversation about these issues, Galarowicz said.

“We’re trying to target the issues we face in the most broad-based way," Galarowicz said. "Conceptions of masculinity are tied to cultures of violence, conceptions of self, or substance abuse."

He added that he benefited from attending NME workshops as a first–year and hopes more students will take advantage of these opportunities.   

“It was always the kids who weren’t athletes, the kids who weren’t involved in other stuff who got saddled with a lot of the programs [in the past],” he said.

IFC President Galarowicz said the aim of the new program is to encourage higher attendance.

Penn Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said he credits the IFC for reaching out to CAPS to better streamline NME and achieve higher turnout.

The IFC has tried several strategies in the past three years to increase turnout at NME events. In 2017, only five of Penn’s 27 fraternities met then-mandated IFC attendance requirements which included a sex education workshop, MARS workshop, and the Vagina Monologues. In 2018, the IFC hoped more flexibility would boost turnout by having fraternities choose only three programs to attend from nine options. The IFC adopted a stricter stance in 2019 by making the MARS workshop compulsory and threatening to block initiation of new members until they attended the required events.

“There’s a lot of research that supports the fact that too many choices is overwhelming and can be a negative,” Director of Campus Health Ashlee Halbritter said in support of the IFC’s streamlining efforts.

Campus Health will also hold its annual sex education workshop, known as “sex camp,” as part of new member training for both sororities and fraternities. Galarowicz said that at least four new members from each fraternity are required to attend the "sex camp" compared to last year's three. 

Halbritter said that attendance requirements for the "sex camp" is lower than the CAPS, AOD, and MARS workshops because of space and time constraints. Halbritter added that Campus Health will offer an online equivalent for those who do not attend the camp.

Delta Tau Delta President and College junior Matthew Garber said that the new IFC requirements will not mean a significant change for his chapter.

“[Delta Tau Delta] has always had a CAPS presentation, MARS, Penn Anti-Violence Educators," Garber said. "We’ve been doing these since as long as I’ve been in the fraternity."

According to figures from 2017, Delta Tau Delta met the NME attendance requirements for Campus Health and MARS events but did not meet the then-mandated Vagina Monologues requirement. 

Garber, however, welcomed the IFC’s initiative to increase fraternity turnout at NME, adding that the Greek life community tends to face negative repercussions collectively.

"[Galarowicz] really set the tone and has taken charge of this and made it simpler so that it doesn't feel like yet another chore but something that’s important and that brings people together through unified values, namely inclusivity and education," Dubé said.