The UBC InterFraternity Council (IFC) will be putting an end to open social events at fraternity houses due to safety concerns.
After UBC economics professor Marina Adshade alleged in a tweet last October that multiple female students had been drugged at UBC fraternities, the IFC — which governs and oversees UBC’s fraternities — placed an indefinite suspension on all open social events. The ban is still in place today and will become the IFC’s policy going forward.
After Adshade’s allegations went public, AMS Council voted to review the IFC’s status as an AMS club. When that review concluded that the IFC was in violation of multiple AMS bylaws and policies, the council voted to remove its club status and replace it with a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
In an interview with the Ubyssey, IFC president Adam Moallemi said the events from last October led the organization to re-evaluate itself and its approach to risk management. It determined that the current model of open social events is unsustainable.
“Having those parties where the whole Greek village or other houses are just packed with people, there’s no way we can control who’s coming in, and it just opens the door for so many issues,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’re moving in a direction where open parties like the ones people are used to are never going to happen again.”
‘We need to move away from this’
According to Moallemi, the size of open social events at UBC fraternity houses and the fact that anyone can attend them makes these events difficult to control.
“They’re completely open to anyone in the public,” he said. “This is where like people come in and they cause a lot of issues. People that don’t go to UBC come and they cause even bigger issues.”
In the future, social functions at UBC’s fraternities will move towards an invite-only system where fraternities will have a strict set of guidelines to follow, although the details of what this new model will look like are still being developed.
“We’re taking the safety at our events extremely seriously, and I think this is a great first step,” said Moallemi. “We’re really examining the role that open parties play and how we’re gonna transition, and we are in that transition right now into having closed events which are much more controlled.”
Moallemi added that the Greek community has been receptive to these changes.
“People realize that we need to move away from this. We need to be responsible and we need to really be leaders in promoting safety on campus.”
Outlining an agreement
This shift comes as the IFC and AMS are negotiating the terms of an MoU that will outline how both organizations plan to work together moving forward. These negotiations will determine whether or not UBC’s fraternities will still be able to access various AMS-related related services available to AMS clubs.
One thing Moallemi wants to see in the agreement is the ability for fraternities to use booking space in the Nest to host recruitment “rush” events, as well as information sessions on UBC fraternities
“Of the main things that we got out of an AMS club was being able to get those room bookings,” he said. “This is why we’re having these conversations with the AMS on how our partnership is going to look moving forward — so we can see if we can retain some of these things while not being an AMS club.”
AMS VP Admin Cole Evans said that the AMS has held discussions with the IFC on this issue. Although he's not certain what the outcome will be, he said that talks have been positive.
“This building [the Nest] serves to support students at UBC, so we always want to make sure that we're doing that,” he said.
The IFC also hopes the training seminars it receives from the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) will continue in the future.
Each of UBC’s 10 fraternities receives an annual seminar on consent, bystander intervention and healthier masculinity from SASC, which is mandatory for all members and IFC executives to attend. Likewise, SASC also offers ad hoc training sessions for fraternities on certain topics if it requests them.
Since the IFC won’t be an AMS club anymore, Moallemi was concerned that the IFC might not be able to access these seminars.
“We’ve already built a great connection with SASC,” he said. “That’s not something we want to lose.”
SASC manager Annette Angell said that she hopes to see the seminars continue as well, adding that SASC does not only provide services to AMS clubs.
“We know that these educational workshops are key,” she said. “If we're not working at changing content culture and rape culture on this campus, we’re missing a huge piece of the work that needs to be done for this community.”
Evans said that the AMS is committed to preventing sexual violence on campus and that the student union has been in conversations with the SASC about fraternity training — however, he didn’t say whether or not the SASC training seminars would be a part of the MoU.
“That's definitely something that we're taking a look at,” he said. “I don't want to speculate too early, but we’re definitely taking a look at how we can continue to support communities on campus and continue to make that UBC students are safe in all situations that they're in.”
The deconstitution of the IFC has also spurred the AMS into re-examining its relationship with UBC Sororities.
At the Feb. 5 AMS Council meeting, the Operations Committee — which is chaired by Evans — announced that UBC Sororities is in violation of AMS club membership policy. The committee is working to establish what steps it will take in response, although Evans noted that their case is different from that of the IFC’s.
“We’re taking things one step at a time, making sure we're listening to feedback from both parties, and also ensuring that whatever decision we make at the end of the day, whatever agreements we might come to, are ultimately working in the best interests of all UBC students,” he said.
In response to an interview request from the Ubyssey, UBC Sororities said they are currently not accepting media requests.
A new relationship
Looking ahead, both the IFC and AMS hope to establish an amicable relationship with one another.
For Evans, establishing good ties with the IFC will help the two groups ensure their interests are heard and make it easier for them to sort out future disagreements.
“The purpose of continuing these conversations with them and maintaining positive relationships is to ensure that the best interests of our members are at the forefront of all conversations,” he said.
“And then in the future, since we have that positive relationship, if there are any changes that we like to see or any concerns that we have, we’ll be able to bring those up in a very constructive, positive way and it won't be antagonistic to each other.”
Likewise, Moallemi hopes that the agreement being developed can give the IFC and AMS a model they can rely on for years to come.
“We don’t want to jump into an agreement that we know we can’t live up to or that the AMS can’t live up to,” he said. “We want to make this agreement a long-lasting thing, and that’s why we’re taking the necessary amount of time to make sure that we get it right.”
This article was updated to reflect that all fraternity members are required to attend annual training from the Sexual Assault Support Centre, not only new members.