After more than three months — a total of 100 days — 12 of the 13 fraternities in Ball State’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) are no longer on a social “pause.” 

RELATED: Ball State, 13 fraternities agree to 'pause' all social events

After all 13 fraternities within the IFC signed a joint letter Oct. 24 with the university saying they would not host any social events, with or without alcohol, members were required to complete two educational programs before the period ended Wednesday. Due to the number of members who didn’t complete the required training — one on alcohol awareness and the other for sexual assault and bystander intervention — Phi Gamma Delta, or FIJI, will remain on the pause. 

“Well, if they complete the requirement, whenever they complete it, they will be taken off pause just like the others,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Ro Anne Royer Engle.

“They’re in control of when it happens … so if they get it done in two days then we’ll look at it then. If they take a month, then they take a month,” she said. “We’re not a putting a deadline for them.”

In a university-wide email sent Wednesday, Kay Bales, the vice president for student affairs and enrollment services and dean of students, said the goal of both the pause and the educational programs was to ensure Ball State fosters a safe community. 

“And, it's working,” Bales said in the email. “During the pause, there was a sharp drop in reports filed by the Office of Greek Life related to alcohol, fighting, hazing, excessive noise or sexual misconduct.”

Bales said there were 51 reports made to the Office of Greek Life — not to university police — regarding these types of behaviors between Aug. 1, 2017, and Oct. 24, 2017. After the pause was in effect, she said those numbers dropped down to 12. Bales also said there were no complaints regarding alcohol, hazing or sexual assault during the pause.

During this time, fraternity members were offered six alcohol training sessions and 10 sexual assault or bystander intervention training sessions through the Office of Greek Life. There are around 900 IFC fraternity members, according to the Fall 2017 Fraternity and Sorority Life Report. Around 800 of those members completed the required training, according to Bales’ email.  

“I think our lowest chapter attendance right now is at 70 percent,” said IFC president Justin Concannon Tuesday. “Most of the chapters are above 90 percent in attendance, and so a lot of guys did go to those and a lot of guys have learned from those.” 

Jonathan Fix, IFC vice president of recruitment, said the pause and the educational sessions allowed fraternity members to regroup.  

“I think that it really made all of the organizations more aware of the fact that we are a community,” Fix said. “I think a lot of the organizations had the mentality that they solely needed to focus on their chapter and pay mind to their chapter’s image rather than representing the entire Greek community.” 

The training sessions

The workshops hosted by the Office of Greek Life were conducted face-to-face — not over an interactive program like Ball State’s Think About It training. 

On average, Royer Engle said each alcohol workshop lasted from an hour to an hour-and-a-half. The bystander and sexual assault training, she said, lasted anywhere from an hour to two-and-a-half hours, with most sessions lasting an hour.

“When you’re in a college environment, you want to equip people with as much information as possible,” Royer Engle said. “So, for us, those were key focus areas because we felt those are the areas that the entire community would benefit in additional training and information on.” 

The training sessions were conducted by various organizations and were open to the entire Ball State community, not just fraternity members. 

According to the 2013 study “Bystander Education Training for Campus Sexual Assault Prevention: An Initial Meta-Analysis,” which was printed in the book “Violence and Victims,” these types of trainings affect people’s thoughts and feelings toward the presented topic rather than affecting their actions. 

Additionally, the study said these kinds of educational sessions are better received when the audience is split into same-sex groups, but there is no concrete evidence of the effectiveness of these types of programs. 

Greek life task force

Bales stated in the email that members of IFC, the Panhellenic Association (PHA) and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) are putting together a task force on Greek culture. The task force would include presidents from IFC, PHA and NPHC, as well as other members of Greek organizations, chapter advisers and alumni, according to the email. 

“Every semester they will review policies and procedures and provide educated feedback on risk management practices – including social trends and behaviors,” Bales said. 

Concannon said the task force is still being formed, but it will be a good way to address issues that all involved fraternities think are important. 

“So, the task force is kind of from the end of the social pause going onward, so we’ve created and invited different chapter presidents and different chapter representation at this point, and we’re trying to get an idea from those people what they’re passionate about going forward,” he said. 

In addition, Royer Engle said invitations were sent out to about 10-15 members from IFC, PHA and NPHC and the university is waiting to hear back from those who were invited. 

“It [the task force] is created to address Greek culture in general, which is why we included not only IFC fraternities, but a Panhellenic Association and the National Panhellenic Council as well,” Royer Engle said. “To have not only conversations about these issues specifically, but just Greek culture in general and the Greek community and how to continue to demonstrate some of the positive things that happen in Greek life.” 

Transparency

Through public records requests filed by The Daily News, copies of emails between students and Director of Greek Life Kari Murphy following the pause were obtained. In the emails, students asked Murphy to comment on and clarify details surrounding the social pause. Murphy explicitly said in emails to Royer Engle she was ignoring those requests. 

Additionally, throughout the time of the pause, The Daily News reached out to Murphy in the following ways:

  • At least five emails sent directly to Murphy
  • At least five phone calls made to Murphy’s office
  • Multiple requests to university spokesperson Kathy Wolf asking to speak with Murphy
  • Media request during Oct. 26, 2017, IFC delegation meeting
  • Request for comment at IFC executive council meeting Jan. 31, 2018

After these attempts, Murphy either directed The Daily News to university spokesperson Kathy Wolf or ignored the requests. 

However, Concannon said he has been in contact with various administrators and media outlets since the pause began, including The Daily News.  

“We have met with Ball State leadership as well as different news people, as well as internally we’ve met with all the chapters,” he said. “So it’s a lot of meetings, a lot of communication at where we stand and stuff like that.”

Going forward

As of right now, the university doesn’t anticipate going on another pause, Royer Engle said, but will instead handle any behavior deemed as unacceptable by the university on a case-by-case basis. 

“I don’t know that anybody anticipated there would be a pause. I think we have to take into consideration what the issues are. Could they be handled on an individual basis, could they not? If they cannot, if we can change behavior within the community then that’s fine,” she said. “I think that’s the approach that we will take to be able to identify what the issue is we’re trying to address and what is the best way. Could be a pause, could not be a pause. I don’t think we want to predict that this [a social pause] is what will happen the next time.”

As for now, it is unclear how long FIJI will remain on the pause, but Royer Engle said once the members complete the training, they too will again be allowed to host social events. 

Contact Brynn Mechem with comments at bamechem@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @BrynnMechem. Contact Mary Freda with comments at mafreda@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @Mary_Freda1.