The Interfraternity Council (IFC) will soon no longer be an AMS club.
On Wednesday night, AMS Council voted in favour of deconstituting the IFC as an AMS club after a review found it was non-compliant with AMS code.
Instead, the AMS will establish a memorandum of understanding that ensures the two organizations communicate on issues regarding student safety and allows the IFC to maintain certain privileges like booking space in the Nest.
The decision comes after Council mandated the Operations Committee, chaired by VP Administration Cole Evans, to review the IFC’s status as a club on October 9. The motion was originally brought to Council by Max Holmes, a UBC Vancouver Board of Governors student representative and former VP Academic and University Affairs.
“We undertook a really collaborative process with this report ... and I’m really happy with what the product final result was of it,” said Evans. “The IFC has been great throughout this process and have been very receptive to the work we’ve been doing on this report.”
The fraternities and IFC came under scrutiny in early October after allegations of drugging at fraternity parties surfaced online through a tweet by economics professor Dr. Marina Adshade.
The university responded to the allegations by asking University RCMP to open an investigation. The Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) criticized the university’s response, saying that it was “in disalignment with survivor-centric principles” in a Facebook post.
The fraternities have also suspended their social events indefinitely.
In the report, which the Council discussed before voting, the Operations Committee found that the IFC is non-compliant with its bylaws, code and the AMS Operations Committee Policy Manual.
The IFC constitution restricts its members to male-identifying individuals, which violates AMS Operations Committee Policy Manual Section 4: “Membership in all AMS Clubs shall be open to all Active AMS Members.”
The report also listed seven ways in which the IFC violates society code at a governance level, including its unauthorized collection of membership fees, its management of a Judicial Board to conduct internal investigations and the fact that it “routinely” allows the use of controlled substances in violation of its own constitution.
“It was determined by the Committee that many of these features are inherent to the organizational structure of the IFC, and that there is essentially no chance of future compliance,” reads the report.
In consultations with the AMS, the IFC conceded that their constitution is non-compliant and unlikely to change, according to the report.
“In summary, the responses of IFC leadership acknowledged that their Constitution and Bylaws were non-compliant in a number of areas, and that these items were unlikely to change due to the governing and operational structure of the IFC,” states the report.
The Operations Committee concluded that IFC poses a “higher liability risk” to the AMS than other clubs because of incidents it has been involved in, but the report does not clearly state the nature of this risk or the incidents in question.
While the report did not directly call the IFC a safety risk, it says the AMS will continue to work with the IFC to ensure “AMS member safety.”
In an emailed statement to The Ubyssey, IFC President Adan Moallemi said they deny aspects of the report, but agree their status should evolve.
“... although we disagree with certain facts found within the report (such as unfounded accusations about substance abuse), we agree that we should run our organization separately from the AMS, but work together where we share similar goals in improving students' quality of life,” wrote Moallemi.
Moving forward, the report recommends that the AMS maintain clear channels of communication with Greek Life and enforce inclusivity standards among all its clubs. It also suggests that the AMS Advocacy Committee be in charge of ensuring public accountability for the IFC and Greek Life moving forward.
Holmes believes removing the IFC’s status as a club will give the AMS more leverage to hold it accountable.
“Even if you just look at the concept of student unions, when a student union is separate from the university and is its own society, it can hold the university more to account because it’s completely independent,” he said. “So if you look at the relationship between the IFC and the AMS, it’s kind of odd because when the AMS may want to criticize or have a larger conversation, it’s like having a conversation with itself.”
“So having this separate relationship where both organizations have a say in how they want to manage that relationship I think is going to be better. It allows the AMS to focus more in this relationship on the safety and security of our entire membership.”
Holmes also noted that SASC can continue to work with fraternities to build sexual assault awareness and hold Healthier Masculinities workshops because the SASC is not bound to only working within the AMS.
Evans clarified that the next steps will be to direct the Operations Committee to deconstitute the IFC’s club status and said the AMS will be reaching out to IFC leadership to discuss what their relationship will look like moving forward.
According to the report, the Operations Committee is meant to deconstitute the IFC before November 30.
“... like every other organization, large or small, we have our own challenges. We are committed to continual improvement, and we believe that we can grow individually and collectively by involving the larger campus community,” wrote Moellemi. “The IFC looks forward to working with the AMS to draft an MOU that is reflective of our shared history and goals.”
Holmes said that's only the beginning of an evolving relationship between the AMS and Greek Life.
“This is just the first step, creating this new relationship. The next step is [asking] ‘What are the important things we want to push for here? Who do we want to engage with? How can we really make sure that we’re holding this body accountable?’”
Update 7:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from IFC President Adan Moallemi.