Interfraternity Council Pens Open Letter In Response To President Barron’s Blog

Penn State Interfraternity Council’s Executive Board penned an open letter to various Penn State, fraternity, and student stakeholders. You can read below the IFC’s open letter in full:

The spirit of Penn State is special and undeniable. We all have reasons for falling in love with this university and its community, and anyone who has experienced what it means to be a Nittany Lion will tell you — choosing Penn State is one of the best decisions of their lives.

Seventy-five days ago, our Penn State family experienced heart-wrenching tragedy when we lost one of our own. The fraternity community continues to send its thoughts and prayers to the family of Tim Piazza. We are sorry for your tremendous loss. The fraternity experience failed your son.

We are committed to enacting significant measures to increase safety and enhance accountability throughout our community. We cannot do this alone and need the support of the Penn State family we love so much.

To President Barron: We want to work with you to address critical issues through measures we know are necessary. We are ready to change, but transformation cannot happen without partnership and a willingness to listen to and work with one another. Instead of talking through open letters in the media — it’s disappointing we have to communicate in this manner—meet with us, work with us, and collaborate with us. We are your students, too.

We also need consistent support from the University with a fraternity/sorority life staff focused on the needs of one of the largest Greek communities in the country. We appreciate the support of the current staff, but it is extremely concerning our community has been without a full-time Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life for almost two years. We have one of the least supported communities, not only in the Big 10, but the entire country.

Further, much of what has been tried in the past has been focused on top-down, university-mandated policy or programs. After promising to engage us in critical change conversations, yet again, administrators passed down more edicts without student input. We may have fallen short in the past, but for cultural change to occur, students must be at the core of those efforts through meaningful partnership.

We Are a community of 8,000 students, and inside that community lies the solution. Because we have again been cut out of the process, it will be even harder to create ownership for change.

To the Fraternity/Sorority Community: We need to make real change, and each member must share responsibility in that. We need to work together across chapters and councils and begin to have the difficult dialogue to address the issues of alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual misconduct that plague Penn State. We must take responsibility for our community and can no longer make excuses for bad behavior.

To the Penn State Student Body: We Are Penn State. Many of the challenges we have in the fraternity and sorority community exist in varying degrees throughout the university. Beyond us, they exist across college campuses, but Penn State can and must be better. Change will be difficult, and it will take time.

We are committed to partnership with any organization or group of students who share our desire to create meaningful change.

To Penn State Alumni: We need your help and mentorship. Thank you to those who have supported us and continue to invest in the Penn State fraternity experience. Much has changed over the past decades, but we continue to need active alumni to serve as advisors, coaches and mentors.

Before we arrived in Happy Valley, Penn State chose us to be students, to be part of this family. We Are committed to living up to the responsibility that comes with that privilege. We ask that President Barron, the fraternity/sorority community, the student body, and alumni join us in a commitment to work together to address these problems.

The leadership of the Interfraternity Council has one overarching goal — to ensure we never again need to order 1,500 candles for a vigil for one of our beloved peers. Taking responsibility for our challenges is the first and only way to start significant change. It is time to stop trying to save reputations and repeating the same failed approaches, because that will not make Penn State a better and safer place. It is time to address these problems head on, together. We Are willing to take accountability. We Are Penn State.

The Penn State Interfraternity Council Executive Board

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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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