Expect to be held accountable’

Rani Gupta

As Northwestern prepares to host its first alcohol-friendly tailgate in two years on Saturday, one man who played an instrumental role in making them dry is walking away.

Steve Dealph, former associate director of Greek affairs, left NU on Sept. 14 to take a job with the North-American Interfraternity Conference.

During his eight years at NU, Dealph oversaw significant changes to the school’s Greek system, including setting more stringent alcohol guidelines, adding the National Pan-Hellenic Council to the Greek affairs office’s responsibilities and removing four fraternities from campus.

Through these decisions, Dealph viewed his job not as a leader of Greek students, but as an adviser for them.

“When students lead, especially Greek leaders, they tend to get stuck in one perspective,” Dealph said in a recent interview. “They have to account to so many people: their house, their parents, Greeks, non-Greeks, the administration. … My job is to help them see how to accommodate as many of those people as possible and try to find win-win situations.”

Former Delta Delta Delta President Noelle Day said Dealph took a supportive role in the decision-making process.

“He was silent in the way he did it,” said Day, Weinberg ’99. “Steve was never up front preaching but silently guiding us along a path we had already chosen.”

Matthew Levine, Interfraternity Council president in 1994, helped recruit Dealph to campus.

“Steve always had student concerns and perspectives at the forefront of his mind,” said Levine, Weinberg ’95. “He wanted to do what was best for students. He was an incredible advocate for students.”

Dealph was hired in Fall 1993 as assistant director of residential life for fraternity affairs. One year after he began his tenure, a series of problems in the Greek system — including a large number of unregistered floor parties, several incidents of students falling out of fraternity house windows and the closing of Beta Theta Pi — caused the IFC and NHPC to collaborate on a joint risk-management policy.

The policy set ground rules for drinking at Greek events, including mandating a third-party alcohol vendor, prohibiting hard liquor and insisting that non-alcoholic drinks and light snacks be at all parties.

Day said the policy probably helped NU avoid a tragedy similar to the highly publicized 1997 death from alcohol poisoning of a fraternity pledge at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Steve was so instrumental in changing for the better the social scene on campus and preventing a death or deaths on campus because that’s where we were headed until Steve helped to bring about a mild revolution,” she said.

In 1999, Dealph once again advised Greek leaders during two high-profile decisions to dry up the campus.

Under pressure from administrators who were concerned about underage drinking at football tailgates, IFC voted to make the tailgates alcohol free.

“It’s probably the toughest situation I’ve ever been involved with,” Dealph said. “(The fraternity presidents) didn’t want to make the decision, but it was in the best interest of their organizations.”

That same year, Panhel passed a substance-free resolution that went into effect last year. The resolution stated sororities would not co-sponsor fraternity events where alcohol was present.

“Northwestern was one of the first colleges in the nation to do this,” Dealph said. “We made made national headlines.”

Dealph’s tenure also saw NPHC join Greek affairs in 1997.

“All of the Greek community has grown because of NPHC’s involvement,” Dealph said.

Dealph said that NPHC is much more integrated with IFC and Panhel at NU than at other schools.

Dealph also oversaw the controversial removal of four fraternities from campus in seven years, starting with Beta, whose charter was suspended by their national chapter in 1994.

“(Beta’s closing) was really hard for me,” Dealph said. “I had never had a house close before. I felt like I should have done more to keep it from happening.”

But Dealph said Beta’s closing was justified, and said the fraternity was greatly improved when it was reinstated last year.

“They were not functioning at all as a fraternity,” Dealph said. “They were putting their members at risk. And when Beta came back, they were an incredible group of men.”

Dealph oversaw but was not directly involved with the removal of Phi Delta Theta in 1999 and Sigma Chi in 2000.

Dealph did play an integral role in expelling Delta Kappa Epsilon last Spring Quarter. The fraternity was kicked off campus for a Feb. 13 incident in which two freshman pledges were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.

In dealing with fraternity discipline, Dealph said members’ actions have to be consistent with their stated values. Dealph said the fraternities that have been removed from campus have strayed from their focus on scholarship, leadership and friendship.

“We need to be what we say we are about,” Dealph said. “We don’t have to be perfect at it, but we have to be working toward it. If we are doing things counter to that, we should expect to be held accountable.”

But some DKE members criticized Dealph for not interacting with them during the investigation.

Weinberg sophomore Serdjan Balach, one of the freshmen hospitalized in the Feb. 13 incident, said Dealph never contacted him during the hearings process.

“Dealph said something in the The Daily about how concerned he was, but he never called me. He never talked to me,” Balach said. “I could be sitting next to him and he wouldn’t know who I was. … He’s said stuff about me and he has no idea who I am.”

DKE President Chris Gorbos said Dealph did not make himself available to the fraternity during a turning point in its existence.

“There’s not really a face to the guy. All I know is he’s the guy who shut us down,” said Gorbos, a Speech junior. “He was the head of Greek affairs and I never saw him — and I was the vice president of the house last year.”

Dealph said dealing with disciplinary matters took him away from more positive activities.

“The actions of a few people take up all your time,” he said. “All the people being positive and productive come second.”

Despite the fraternities’ removals, Dealph said the Greek system has improved during his tenure at NU.

“Some students say we have a long way to go in terms of Greek unity, but it’s really amazing if you look at where a lot of other schools are,” Dealph said.

Dealph’s new position as director of leadership education for the North-American Interfraternity Conference will allow him to do what he enjoys most: developing leadership programs for students.

Panhel President Peggy Yu, a Speech senior, said Dealph’s new job will suit him.

“I knew he was going where there was a perfect fit,” Yu said.