Over the past year, Greek life within the Big Ten has been a problem. A student died at Penn State due to excessive drinking and hazing and all Indiana University Greek life saw a 3-month suspension last fall.
However, Purdue provides a different approach to how Greek life is overseen, by allowing student-run councils to work alongside the Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life division at Purdue. Other colleges, such as Penn State have taken away a lot of that power from the students and put it in the hands of the University. Since the death of Timothy Piazza in 2017, Penn State took over all monitoring of the organizations and hired 8 employees to do so through random check-ins, according to the Daily Collegian.
“The Interfraternity Council (and other councils) works diligently to ensure the health and safety of our members and guests, and through self-governance, we are committed to holding our chapters and members to high standards of behavior,” said Interfraternity Council President Seth Gutwein in an email exchange. “The judicial process is taken seriously by the student leaders. As students, we have a clear understanding what is going on in our community and the steps that need to be taken in order to constantly improve our community. Purdue Greek life continues to be successful and the student leaders in the organizations and the councils are always looking for ways to raise the bar for our communities.”
Purdue has the largest Greek life presence in the Big Ten with over 90 organizations within the Greek life community, encompassing fraternities, sororities and cooperatives. According to rough data from the Summer 2018 update by the Big Ten Fraternity & Sorority Advisor AFA Meeting, Purdue saw the highest growth of students becoming involved in Greek life in the Big Ten. From Fall of 2016 to Fall 2017, the number of students within Greek life increased by 528 students at Purdue.
For Brandon Cutler, the Associate Dean of Students/Director of Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life, he views it as the constant development of leaders. It’s like a business, Cutler says, except right when the student leaders know what to do and how to lead, they graduate and move on. There’s a constant turnover, he says with a copy of an “iGen” book on his desk. And because of that turnover it means there’s a continual challenge of working with new students and learning the best ways to interact with them.
“iGen” is a book about the new generation of students, Generation Z, who are now entering college that Cutler has been encouraging just about anyone to read. And as the rest of the title goes, “Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us”.
Currently, 21 organizations within Purdue’s Greek life are under some form of disciplinary sanctions, however, only 3 of them are facing suspension. These sanctions can range from educational requirements and social probation among others. Although, in the past year, there haven’t been any more disciplinary sanctions compared to past years, says Cutler. Penn State, on the other hand, currently has 10 actively suspended fraternities and one sorority.
All Greek life organizations are governed by five student run councils. The five councils are the Purdue Cooperative Council, the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Panhellenic Association. The councils help to enforce the regulations on the organizations that they govern. Many of these are similar to one another.
For example, organizations that host social functions have required pre-checks to ensure the safety of all who attend and guest lists to help with accountability of guests.
“In many aspects, Purdue exceeds the norm that is set at other Big Ten schools. Purdue brings in some of the most dedicated and determined student leaders,” IFC President Seth Gutwein said. “One area that separates us from the other Big Ten schools is the constant support and encouragement that our Greek leaders have from the University staff. The University staff believes in what we are doing and provides us with the resources to be successful. The different councils (IFC, NPHC, PHA, MGC, PCC) allow for student leaders to do just that. Lead. It’s an opportunity for our leaders to exercise our skills and further better the Purdue and greater West Lafayette communities.”