The University of West Georgia’s (UWG) Office of Student Conduct is introducing a newly formed Greek Student Conduct Board in spring 2016 to hear cases involving Greek organizations.
The development of the board comes in response to the university’s Greek community’s troubles and investigations within the last few years. Student Conduct hopes the Greek Conduct Board will help rectify some of these issues and hold Greek organizations more accountable of their decisions and actions.
“Our Greek community is definitely in a place of transition,” said Melissa DeGrandis, UWG student conduct specialist. “It was placed in a moratorium last year and there have been a lot of different investigations that have unfolded in the past few years.”
Discussions and planning for the Greek Conduct Board began when members from various Greek organizations voiced their concerns and interest to become more active with cases involving Greek organizations. Many Greek members expressed their desires in learning more about self-governance in the Greek community.
“Part of the feedback that we receive from the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic boards or students in the Greek community is that they want a more active piece in the soft governance piece or have an active voice in what’s happening,” said DeGrandis “There’s been a misinterpretation that the administration is trying to take over their role in the community.
One of the biggest assumptions is that the board is being formed to promote the university’s efforts in cracking down on Greek life or eliminating Greeks at UWG in general. DeGrandis assures that this is not the case and states that the board is being formed to maintain consistency and enforcing university policy.
“If you were to pull a member of the community from five years ago and ask how much has changed, they will tell you that not much has changed as far as policies,” she said. “A lot of assumptions will be made with these changes happening when in reality it’s not the case.”
One of the biggest roles the new conduct board will play is being an education and development piece for the Greek community. The board will be student driven, primarily those who are Greek affiliated, but will also be open to students who are non-Greek. Student Conduct hopes that Greek organizations who are in violation of university policies or Code of Conduct will gain a better understanding from their peers as compared to a professional administrator.
“We want Greek affiliated students to help educate and promote education and civility within the college campus,” said Becky Pritchett, residence life coordinator and co-advisor to the Greek Conduct Board.
Members of the board will be trained on how to comfortably and effectively have tough conversations with members within the Greek community. The board will also be trained on the values and standards of the university as well as peer accountability.
“One of the things I like about this board is that it’s not for an individual; it’s for an organization,” said Pritchett. “It’s talking about a larger picture of what an organization may or may not have done or what really happened and it’s about reminding them of their role in maintaining civility and upholding the values and standards of the campus.”
“This is not just conduct stepping in saying, ‘Here, do xyz,’” said DeGrandis. “This is us saying we have values and standards, and we want to help you to uphold those with that peer accountability.”
The overall goal of the board is to ensure that the voice of the Greek community is heard and that their rights as students are maintain. While the board is still in the planning stages and will be a trial and error initiative, the advisors are excited for the positive impact the board will have on the Greek community and the university.
“I want to make sure students are comfortable and that they are maintaining their rights in regards to conduct,” said DeGrandis. “If it’s a better way for me to educate, if it’s a better way for me to help develop, then I want to make sure that is available to a student. It’s about making them the best that a student can be.”
“This can definitely serve as a reforming stage and remind them who they are,” said Pritchett. “This allows them to hold themselves to their standards and the standards they create. This gives them an outlet to leave a positive outlet.”