Abolish or adapt?: IFC president discusses Abolish Greek Life, parties, reform

The+Phi+Kappa+Psi+and+Delta+Gamma+buildings+on+campus.

Daily file photos by Kelsey Carroll. Illustration by Megan Munce.

The Phi Kappa Psi and Delta Gamma buildings on campus.

Ejun Kim and Megan Munce

Since the advent of the Abolish Greek Life movement last summer, discussions of abolishing or reforming Greek life have continued on campus. The Daily spoke to Interfraternity Council President and Weinberg junior Nick Papandreou about his perspective on recruitment, parties and the future of Greek life on campus. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: IFC chose to continue with formal recruitment this year. How has it changed this year because of COVID-19 and the Abolish Greek Life movement?

Papandreou: We did expect lower numbers and we do still expect fewer people to rush. The chapters are making conscious decisions in terms of who they’re recruiting, and we’ve kind of formed our recruitment process for this quarter to kind of facilitate that.

We instituted a system where those interested in rushing will fill out a form where they declare the chapters they “officially” want to rush and also the chapter which is their “top choice.” It is mandated for chapters to have a meeting with everyone who ranks them first. We used this “top choice” approach because we did not want people to rank their preferences. We think that ranking gets them even more invested in the process than they should be. Our approach gives people as fair a shot as possible, without being harmful.

The Daily: How are you making virtual recruitment more accessible for those who may not have internet access?

Papandreou: Our main goal this quarter was to make rush accessible for the largest amount of people. We’ve increased our scholarship funding by 100 percent. We understand that classism and elitism are issues that have plagued fraternities, and they are characterized by those issues. For us, it is very important to kind of mitigate those as much as possible and give people the opportunity with need-based aid to have a fraternity experience, should they want that.

The Daily: How has IFC been communicating and collaborating with the Abolish Greek Life movement?

Papandreou: I am sure that for some chapter presidents and for some in the IFC, listening to the fact that I’ve been communicating with the Abolish Greek Life movement, they may feel scared or whatever, because our end goals are definitely different — Abolish Greek Life wants to abolish IFC, and for IFC, that’s not currently the goal. Our goal is about making sure we find common ground and build a working relationship on those things that we both want to see, at least in the short run. That’s something that I’m happy the Abolish Greek Life movement sees and is willing to work with us in that sort of capacity.

The Daily: This fall, Northwestern’s Panhellenic Association released a statement in favor of disbanding sororities on campus. Has IFC ever had any discussions about supporting abolition instead of reform?

Papandreou: Reform is essentially putting fraternities on a common level with everyone else, subject to the same expectations and standards. And most importantly, if you ask me, making sure that people are given the tools to reach that level, making sure they understand the expectations, making sure that their members understand their expectations, making sure that the members themselves know why we’re moving towards this level — those things I think can happen. And I firmly, firmly believe that we can move towards that goal. 

The Daily: Is IFC currently monitoring parties being held by fraternities on and off-campus?

Papandreou: IFC executive board members do their own rounds of the fraternity quad. That’s a practice that has existed for years. We’ve also launched a report form for information from people. We think that as a standards board, this will facilitate our accountability processes and definitely show the community that they can also contribute to this, that they’re not alone.

The Daily: Last week, IFC’s Standards Board sanctioned and fined Phi Kappa Psi for holding an on-campus social event. If other fraternities are found responsible for holding parties, will you apply the same standards?

Papandreou: I can’t comment on the decision of the panel itself, because I’m not privy to that, but in my view, any sort of decision we make is precedent for all other decisions. It’s not our goal to make examples out of anyone, it’s not our goal to protect some in favor of others. Standards is a blind process, and it’s just looking at the facts making sure that we have everything right. The decision on Phi Psi is not final, they can appeal that decision. Should Phi Psi have any new evidence come in that would have any bearing on the decision or the charges, there will be an appeals board. The deadline to submit an appeal is February 11.

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Twitter: @ejun_kim and @meganmuncie

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