The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: Interfraternity Council misses mark with social probation

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Disclaimer: I write this letter as president of an Interfraternity Council chapter. I do not speak for anyone other than myself.

IFC’s recent response, highlighted in a Feb. 8 article from The Daily, to allegations of sexual assault within two fraternity houses is troubling.

To me, as a so-called leader within the community (I am the currently President of Lambda Chi Alpha and voted against the probation), the response is particularly troubling. To suggest that a cessation of parties will solve the greater cultural issues is naive, and fails to acknowledge the greater problem at hand. When we cast an umbrella punishment, prohibiting something trivial like a mixer or bar night, we fail to acknowledge the broader culture that helps attribute to the development of damaged, violent and dangerous men. We fail to view each chapter individually, sorting the bad apples from the good. This punishment does nothing to change the men already damaged from a culture promoting violent masculinity.

If a man is immersed in a fraternity that promotes a culture of toxic masculinity, and as a result of that culture acts violently toward women, he’s not going to stop his actions and way of thinking just because he can’t go to a mixer. IFC is just deflecting the problem onto someone else. We are not helping anyone. We are putting others in danger.

IFC, this solution does not help. Plain and simple.

We have the opportunity to make real cultural change –– instead, IFC has decided to slap itself on the wrist, in a move that several IFC exec board members described as a symbolic gesture in Tuesday’s biweekly meeting between the exec board and the IFC chapter presidents.

Now is not the time for symbolism. Now is the time for substance.

So, let’s look at the substance of this so-called social probation.

The social probation applies to all parties and mixers and all future events involving third parties, unless those events have already been planned. If this is truly a community-wide issue that can be helped by ceasing to hold social events with alcohol, IFC should have zero tolerance for any and all events, currently planned or otherwise. IFC seems not to care about events that have already been planned, so clearly, the parties and bar nights must not be that big of a deal. This hole in the policy seems like either a glaring acknowledgment of this policy’s inefficacy, or an indication that the policy’s aim is to inoculate individual organizations from direct punishment.

Instead of sanctioning specific organizations, IFC has taken the responsibility upon itself as a whole community. In doing so, IFC has inoculated organizations within our council. By sharing the blame among 18 organizations, no single organization can be held culpable. This policy sets the dangerous precedent that a fraternity will never be held liable for their actions, because the community can always take the fall.

This is not the IFC I joined. This is not the IFC that inspired me to become a leader in my chapter.


Josh Livingston
President, Lambda Chi Alpha