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SUNY Potsdam eases Greek life restrictions


POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam is easing some of the restrictions placed on fraternities and sororities as the college continues to question what role Greek organizations will play in the school’s future.

Several instances of hazing and underage drinking sparked a crackdown on Greek organizations last year. Most of the restrictions limited the pledging period, when fraternities and sororities recruit and train new members.

The organizations usually have wide freedoms when it comes to pledging, but that changed last semester.

The new rules said new member programs must be held on campus, and the pledging period could not last longer than three weeks.

This prompted angry feedback from students in organizations that had grown accustomed to independence.

When they return this fall, they will find some of these rules have been loosened. The pledging period will now run for just over a month, and organizations will be able to hold some new member activities at approved off-campus locations, including their houses.

As part of last semester’s crackdown, the college created a Greek Life Task Force to figure out how to handle fraternities and sororities moving forward. For a while, there was some doubt that Greek groups even would be allowed to remain a part of the college.

The task force recently decided that fraternities and sororities should remain at the school, but any plans beyond that are still undefined.

The looser restrictions, still a far cry from the independence groups once held, were designed with feedback from Greek student leaders as a compromise until the college decides on a permanent solution.

“We spent all of last semester not even sure if Greek life would continue, so we weren’t working on it as much as we could,” said Julie M. Dold, assistant director of student life.

Alumni may play a major role in the future. Ms. Dold said each chapter may form a three- to five-member alumni advisory board to help guide new members and keep them out of trouble.

“Alumni need to be a key piece to this,” she said.

Beyond that, there are still more questions than answers. It is uncertain which, if any, of the current pledge period restrictions will become permanent, or what recommendations will come from the Greek Life Task Force at year’s end.

Despite the uncertainty and the problems, Ms. Dold said she believes fraternities and sororities are worth the investment.

“I find a lot of value in Greek life and what the chapters are supposed to stand for,” she said.

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