Penn State Fraternities’ CPR Training Is ‘First Step’ Toward Safer Greek Life
A new policy from the Penn State Interfraternity Council is designed to make recognizing emergencies and providing necessary assistance at parties easier. Under the new policy, which goes into effect this month, each fraternity is required to have at least one sober, CPR-certified brother at every social.
Fraternity brothers began earning their CPR certifications this weekend at one of four classes offered by the Penn State Emergency Medical Services Association, in addition to a pilot class held earlier this semester.
In total, the courses cost $8,000 for four members from each of the 36 fraternities on campus to receive the certification. The IFC and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life covered expenses so the course wouldn’t place a financial burden on chapters.
Brothers also had the opportunity to take first aid and “Stop the Bleed” classes at an additional fee, which chapters would have to pay themselves. Course coordinator Josh Hamilton said that although CPR training is life-saving, lessons learned from first aid and “Stop the Bleed” classes are more commonly used. No brothers in attendance at the Sunday morning class said they were staying for the additional courses.
The new policy is the product of nearly a year of planning that began as a class project for a former member of both the IFC and Penn State Emergency Medical Services Association.
“What started out as an ENGL 202 assignment for me is now a fully realized harm reduction program in our very own community,” Arman Saeedi said in a statement provided by the IFC. “As a former member of PSU EMS, my personal connection to the Beta Theta Pi tragedy inspired me to make every effort to prevent or at least reduce incidences like that from happening.”
Now that Saeedi has graduated, his partner in championing the CPR requirement and IFC vice president of civic responsibility Alec Gutsche has continued the legwork, finally bringing the idea to life.
“I always felt there could be more safety measured instituted that weren’t instituted and thought about how that’d be something I’d change if I ever moved up in the IFC,” Gutsche said. “Now, if something happens in a house, they’ll be more likely to recognize an emergency or even able to perform CPR themselves, so this is better for everyone in the long run.”
From getting the university’s buy-in to collaborating with EMSA to securing funding, the creation of this policy has spanned the length of Gutsche’s term, which began last November and ends next month. Now, EMSA and IFC are discussing the possibility of working together to develop a safety and emergency response curriculum specifically designed for fraternity chapters.
This policy comes more than a year and a half after Penn State sophomore Tim Piazza died as a result of a hazing ritual at the house of Beta Theta Pi. Since then, various measures have been imposed by the university to curb hazing and drinking. However, this seems like the biggest and most forward-thinking move made by the Greek community in an effort to make itself safer.
“Getting the first step of safety training in place is huge,” Gutsche said. “Now, people are going to be accustomed to thinking that if they want to be on their fraternities’ exec boards, they’re probably going to need to get CPR-certified. From there, we can work toward more training.
“Initially, everyone was up in arms about the new sanctions when they were introduced. But everyone eventually got used to them. We think eventually these rules will be accepted widely and we’ll be able to expand.”
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