Focus on Accountability, Expectations
A task group is meeting weekly this summer to follow up on suggestions from a June 2009 external Greek Assessment Report and April 2010 Blue Ribbon committee report of Miami’s Greek system and to specifically address the type of misconduct exhibited by three Miami sororities this spring.
Student leaders are playing a key role in the group, working with faculty, staff, and community members, led by Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Jones.
Incidents involved members and guests at Miami’s Pi Beta Phi chapter at Lake Lyndsay Lodge in Hamilton; the Alpha Xi Delta chapter at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati; and members of Zeta Tau Alpha and their guests on a bus to an event. Charges included several alcohol violations, damaging facilities, acting indecently, and disrespecting staff and property.
Review of the incidents followed standard university judicial processes and resulted in sanctions ranging from probation for Zeta Tau Alpha to one- and two-year suspensions for Pi Beta Phi and Alpha Xi Delta, respectively.
The news garnered widespread media attention from numerous websites, television and radio stations, local papers, and national outlets, including the New York Times, Toronto Sun, and USA Today.
Some of those stories carried reaction from President David Hodge, who said, “We are appalled and embarrassed. …” Showing Miami is taking the matter seriously, he pledged a review of policies and behavioral standards for all student organizations.
Within the weekly task group meetings, much of the work centers on prevention of incidents like the ones this spring. Students have taken the lead in researching standards and expectations from other campuses and recommending much stronger regulations, consequences, and reward criteria. The group has suggested requiring additional security at socials, working more closely with venues, consistent enforcement of alcohol-related policies and procedures, providing clearer disciplinary processes and outcomes, and additional educational programs on accountability, bystander behavior, and standards of excellence.
Although Miami is far from alone in dealing with alcohol violations or Greek sanctions, Hodge said, with the spotlight on Oxford, Miami has the opportunity to be a leader in “raising the bar for expectations pertaining to student conduct and self-discipline.”