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Mizzou announces changes that strengthen Greek community

Following nearly two years of study and discussions, university officials say the policy changes will position MU as a national leader on Greek life

April 04, 2019

Story Contact(s):
Liz McCune, mccunee@missouri.edu, 573-882-6212

COLUMBIA, MO — University of Missouri officials today announced changes to the university’s fraternity and sorority life system that will help position the community as a national model. The changes include practices designed to support greater student success, safety and sustainability of Mizzou’s fraternities and sororities.

“From the beginning of this process, I have been committed to supporting our Greek community and making it the best in the nation,” said Gary Ward, vice chancellor for operations and interim vice chancellor of student affairs. “We know that these organizations are a vital part of the Mizzou student experience, and we see this plan as an expression of our commitment to enhance and protect that rich tradition.”

Some parts of the plan will go into effect immediately while others will phase in over time. Key aspects of the plan include:

  • Adhering to national best practices related to hazing and reducing the initiation period for new members to eight weeks or less;
  • Offering limited amnesty to encourage self-reporting of hazing incidents;
  • Focusing more on individual accountability for behavior rather than entire chapters and organizations;
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion among all members of the Greek community while increasing advising and support to culturally based fraternities and sororities. This goal is in keeping with the university’s overall strategic plan and framework for improving inclusion in every aspect of campus;
  • Allowing freshmen to continue living in chapter facilities until 2021, and then phasing in new guidelines that maintain that unlimited ability if the chapter meets certain requirements, including:
    • Attaining a minimum 3.0 GPA average for two consecutive semesters by 2021.
    • Confirming that any freshmen who are moving in to the facility are in good standing with the university during their first semester.
    • The chapter also must remain in good standing with the university in order to house any uninitiated freshmen.

“The review of MU’s fraternities and sororities has been a comprehensive process that has included input from dozens of Greek students from day one,” said Matt Elben, an MU student and president of the Interfraternity Council. “This plan gives us steps forward to thrive as a community while ensuring the safety of everyone involved in these great organizations.”

The changes, which have been shared with Greek student leaders and many alumni, are the result of nearly two years of study and discussions. In 2017, a Greek life consultant conducted a comprehensive review and risk management assessment of fraternity and sorority life at Mizzou. An advisory board of more than 40 alumni, parents and students (most of whom are members of fraternity and sorority organizations) reviewed that information and developed recommendations released in July. Since then, the recommendations have gone through several revisions as members of the community were invited to provide feedback through a series of small group meetings, larger public events or online.

“I am very appreciative of countless hours volunteered by our students, staff, faculty, parents and alumni to make our historic Greek system even stronger and more vibrant,” Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Greek students are an important and valuable part of our community, both here at the university, in the Columbia community and beyond. Fraternities and sororities provide a large number of students with experiences that benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Mizzou’s sorority and fraternity community is among the largest in the nation with roots going back 150 years. Greek organizations provide valuable leadership opportunities and social supports while building on a foundation of service and philanthropy.

“From the beginning of this process, there was a recognition among our sororities and fraternities across campus that we have a real opportunity to enact lasting change that will enhance Greek life and ensure the long-term success of Greek organizations,” said Shelby Haskins, president of the Mizzou Panhellenic Association. “This plan creates a blueprint that will positively affect the experience of thousands of young women and men for many years to come.”

Dean of Students Jeff Zeilenga has helped coordinate the Greek life review from the beginning of the process. Zeilenga said the university is committed to providing academic advising support to chapters.

“This plan is not just about sustaining our system but truly making it the best that it can be for generations to come,” Zeilenga said. “This plan also aligns with the university’s strategic goal to support excellence in student success.”

Zeilenga noted that care was taken to develop a reasonable timeline and implementation requirements for houses. The minimum GPA required for freshmen to live in houses, for example, does not go into effect until 2021. For any chapters struggling to reach the threshold, the university will connect chapters with current academic resources and fund academic advisors for those chapters, as well as fund or co-fund a stipend for a faculty mentor.

“Greek alumni are some of the strongest supporters of Mizzou, and Mizzou has shown that it is one of the strongest supporters of this rich tradition of brotherhood and sisterhood by facilitating this process,” said Ted Hellman, advisory board member and a founder of the MU Fraternity Alumni Consortium. “I am confident that these changes will position fraternities and sororities to flourish at Mizzou, ensuring that young men and women will continue to benefit from the leadership, academic, philanthropic and social opportunities that come with Greek life.”

To review the full plan, visit here

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