Summer of 59

As ordered by Chico State President Paul Zingg in February, the university released a laundry list of guidelines last week in an attempt to set an out-of-control Greek community on the straight and narrow.

The report submitted by the Greek System Review Task Force outlines 59 recommendations based on suggestions from President Zingg, along with a Greek Life consultant hired by the university and the community at large. The recommendations will be completed in “tiers” over the course of the next two years.

The first tier is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1. Fraternity and sorority recruitment will be postponed during the fall 2005 semester while chapters start the rebuilding process. Recommendations in the first tier include a ban on hazing and would require chapter houses and events to be alcohol free.

The second tier, which must be completed by Oct. 15, calls for the development of criteria for chapters to meet the campus average GPA and will require all members to be enrolled at Chico State.

Connie Huyck, Greek life adviser, said the new report is much broader than the Greek Life Agreement signed by local chapters last year. She said the previous agreement was never released publicly, since some chapters at the national level were still in the process of reviewing the guidelines and had not yet committed.

Four guidelines in the old agreement were set for compliance during the 2004-05 school year. They required chapters to conduct dry rushes and attend new-member education programs as well as community roundtables with administration, city officials and local authorities. Chapters were also required to turn in rosters to confirm that members were working toward raising the Greek GPAs to the student average. Huyck said the average fraternity GPA was 2.48, below the all-men’s average of 2.6, and that sororities came in with 2.78, below the all-women’s average of 2.92.

But grades were the least of the university’s problems this past year. At the start of the fall 2005 semester a slew of events, including the near-death alcohol poisoning of 19-year-old Butte College student Richard Amador and the nationally publicized hazing death of 21-year-old Matthew Carrington, triggered President Zingg to lambaste the Greek community.

In his first address to the Greeks in February, Zingg called for a complete review of the system and appointed Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Moon to head a task force to review the entire Greek system. Two nights before his speech, 18-year-old Tara Johnson was taken to Enloe Medical Center, where she was found to have a dangerously high blood-alcohol level of 0.348 percent.

Zingg called the Greek community to the Bell Memorial Union Auditorium again in April, saying chapters would no longer operate as drinking clubs under the guise of fraternities and sororities and laid out guidelines that would become part of the recent report.

He said the new set of guidelines is far more comprehensive and also recognizes the university’s responsibility in helping the Greek community meet them.

“This is a partnership between the Greeks and the university aimed to ensure that both are aligned around a set of values that will enable the Greek system here to be an exemplary contributor to the quality of student life at the university,” Zingg told the CN&R this week.

Many new guidelines detail changes in recruiting practices, including the elimination of songs and dances often seen on the porches of sorority houses around campus. However some, like the Task Force report’s no-hazing requirement, mirror California’s anti-hazing law under the Education Code passed in 1981.

Zingg is confident that most of the Greek organizations will step up but acknowledged that some may not.

The university has already taken action against individuals and organizations for their involvement in recent incidents. The four Chico State students charged in the death of Matthew Carrington are no longer enrolled. And Phi Kappa Tau, the fraternity that participated in the making of a porno last year, had their local charter stripped by the Interfraternity Council in April.

When asked if he was concerned with organizations ignoring the university and continuing operation under their own rule, Zingg pointed out that the recent passing of the second-response law by the Chico City Council shows that the city “will not tolerate rogue groups behaving badly.”

The ordinance allows police officers to issue a ticket if they’re called a second time to a loud party and charge those responsible $35 per officer for the first half-hour.

“As I pointed out in my April address, those who think they can retreat from the reach of the university and become rogue organizations need to think twice,” Zingg stated.

Another university concern is how the events of the last year could affect enrollment. Course registration for the fall 2005 semester is running slightly ahead of last year, which Zingg said is a good sign.

“I believe that the clarity and resolve of the university in these matters is off-setting some of the initial negative reactions back in the spring.”