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Barron Unveils Task Force To Study Fraternity And Sorority Life, ‘Renewed Attention’ To Greek System

Following a turbulent time in Greek life last year, President Barron announced in March a task force to evaluate the system. Yesterday, Barron unveiled the 25-member task force to study fraternity and sorority life at Penn State. According to Penn State, the objectives of the force will focus on ways that the university can work in tandem with Greek life to evaluate the organizations and share this information publicly.

In a letter to the members of this task force, Barron noted a cause for concern in the current direction and state of fraternity and sorority organizations on campus, citing the fact that Greek life has found itself among national headlines, and Penn State Greek life is not excluded from this observation. Though Barron applauded the sense of community, service, and tradition that fraternities and sororities offer their members, he raised questions about the tumultuous relationship to alcohol, issues of sexual misconduct among them, hazing, racial and other biases, and recurring town-gown tensions that some of these groups experience.

“Although many of these concerns are far from new, their enduring and perhaps deepening nature is cause for renewed attention, and the Penn State fraternity and sorority community has not been immune to many of these same unfortunate outcomes, as we know,” said Barron in the letter.

Barron made a number of suggestions to the task force, but overall asked the members to evaluate Penn State’s fraternities and sororities — what they’re doing right, as well as areas of concern. Barron asked the members to shy away from objectives that would remedy one organization, instead asking that the task force focus its attention on how the university can influence Greek life as a whole. Some of the criteria Barron suggested the force evaluate include:

  • Developing criteria that students and their parents can use to evaluate fraternities and sororities
  • Proposing user-friendly ways to publish data about the organizations based on the criteria, and ways data and information could serve as an early-warning system for potential problems
  • Examining the balance of the university, local communities, fraternity and sorority governing councils, advisers and housing corporations, and national Greek-letter organizations
  • Seeking student opinions on the fraternity and sorority system at Penn State

Though unlikely the task force will foster sweeping changes like shutting down Penn State’s entire Greek system, the due time given to the creation of this force shows that deep considerations are being taken in dealing with the hot topic.

The task force is chaired by Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims, and the remaining 24 members are:

  • Diane Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Housing, Food Services and Residence Life
  • Patricia Antolosky, Chapter Adviser, Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority
  • Roy Baker, Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Ankit Bhasin, President, Multicultural Greek Council
  • Ron Binder, Associate Dean of Students, University of Pittsburgh Bradford
  • Jeff Bower, Chapter Adviser, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity
  • Mark Brennan, Chair, Student Life Committee, University Faculty Senate
  • Gina D’Amato Kaufman, Director for Student Affairs, Penn State Abington
  • Brittany Fisher, President, National Panhellenic Council
  • Tom Fountaine, Manager, State College borough
  • Rick Groves, President, Interfraternity Council
  • Peg Hambrick, resident, Highlands Neighborhood, State College
  • Tom King, Chief, State College Police Department
  • Rod Kirsch, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
  • Shawn Lichvar, President, Council of Commonwealth Student Governments
  • Emily McDonald, President, University Park Undergraduate Association
  • Earl Merritt, Director, Multicultural Equity Programs, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Rob Pangborn, Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education
  • Abby Renko, President, Panhellenic Association
  • David Rodriguez, President, Phi Delta Psi Eta Hispanic Fraternity
  • Jeff Rundle, Director of Chapter Services and General Counsel, Beta Theta Pi Foundation
  • Danny Shaha, Director, Office of Student Conduct
  • Jim Strauss, Chair-elect, University Faculty Senate
  • Susan Venegoni, President, Highlands Neighborhood Association, State College

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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