An Open Letter to the Northwestern Community Regarding SAAM

To the Members of the Northwestern Community:

As part of a campaign to raise awareness for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the IFC Executive Board sponsored large banners hanging from chapter houses. This idea was borrowed from a similar campaign done in the fall at another university by the IFC & Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault groups there. The banners were never intended to serve as a comprehensive solution, but rather as a first step in a long-term vision to bring awareness to an important social issue, and to develop an active ownership for the culture within our own chapters.

The slogans on the banners, “XYZ Stands Against Sexual Violence,” “XYZ Supports Survivors,” and “This is Everyone’s Problem” were developed to accomplish these aims. While we received positive feedback from many, including some survivors, it is clear that some of these phrases, particularly the first two, imply an immunity to these problems within our own chapters. It is clearly irresponsible and inappropriate to suggest that an entire chapter or an entire community is exempt to these problems, and the IFC Executive Board and our Presidents never intended for this to be implied. The banners were intended to be a first step in developing an active ownership for the culture within our own chapters, and we apologize if this was not done in the most appropriate manner. We recognize now how this campaign may have been emotionally triggering for survivors, and we want to make a deep, genuine apology for anyone that may have been affected. This was not our intent, but it is our fault for not being cognizant enough and not considering how it might affect others in our community. Moving forward, we will be seeking deliberate and intentional methods of bringing awareness and working to create change.

This work does not and will not end with a banner or march, and we as an executive board recognize this. Members of our community are continuously working to take a greater role in addressing this issue. Several years ago Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) was started as a way to engage men in this important conversation. Since then, introductory MARS training has been a requirement for all new member classes, and covers important topics such as consent, identifying potentially dangerous situations, bystander intervention, and supporting survivors. Within this academic year, MARS has worked internally to develop a continuing dialogue component that was piloted in fall 2015 and has since been refined for further implementation. This dialogue covers masculinity, gender norms, and underlying misogyny and how those themes contribute to the culture of sexual violence in our community.

Starting in winter 2016, the IFC Vice-President for Membership Development developed a four-year continuing education program for IFC chapters that covers topics of masculinity and sexual violence, mental health, and diversity and inclusion. It will incorporate many of the same trainings and discussion components of the continuing dialogue MARS has worked to develop. This program includes Greek-specific spaces for sustained dialogue about important topics that affect our entire community, and provides opportunities for introspection and recommendations for change. With chapter officers this past month, we have held several extensive discussions on masculinity, how it influences the IFC and Northwestern communities, and what action we can take based on this information to ensure a progressive, safer community. These conversations go beyond “this is a problem” and challenge all members of our community to reflect on why this violence occurs and what we can do to change this culture. We feel that our role as leaders in the community is to institute long-standing change to gradually influence future leaders, future students and staff, and future community culture. The best way for this to be addressed is through continuous conversation and gradual cultural shift. Direct legal prosecution of members accused of sexual misconduct is not the appropriate role for the IFC Executive Board nor any other student organization. That said, we actively encourage chapters to hold their members accountable for any and all behavior, including removal from the organization. When chapters reach out to us about internal culture or members, we provide resources and advice on the best way to proceed, prioritizing the needs and desires of survivors first. In this way, we make the most impact on this issue by working with our chapters and other local and national organizations to influence culture and hold ourselves accountable. These steps also do not constitute sufficient action, and we are continuously developing additional ways to work towards a better community.

With this in mind, we want to be intentional and mindful about listening to and incorporating the voices of the IFC and Northwestern community. We work to serve everyone in our community, regardless of any gender or affiliation, and would invite anyone to share their perspectives with us. The board will be hosting an open, public forum for all members of the Northwestern community to voice any concerns, suggestions, or thoughts about any topic, and we feel this conversation would be an important theme to discuss further. We invite all those interested to attend this open forum on May 16, 2016 at 8:00pm in University Hall 122. In addition, we will be providing an anonymous method of providing feedback below to ensure that anyone who feels they cannot attend in person can have their voice heard.

 

Sincerely,
The Interfraternity Council Executive Board 2016-2017

 

Anonymous Thoughts: http://goo.gl/forms/cMfXay0J1L

Open Forum: https://www.facebook.com/events/1770748043159453/

An Open Letter on Financial Accessibility within the IFC community

To the members of the IFC community:

As spring recruitment begins, we are excited to welcome a new group of men into our community and want to reaffirm our commitment to making fraternity life accessible to all students. We have come to recognize that one important facet of this is minimizing the financial burden fraternity life places on its members. Any student who is deserving of membership in our community should not be restricted because of financial reasons.

Because of this, we are excited to announce a constitutional change that provides for the establishment of an IFC-wide scholarship for students with financial need. Any member of our community is eligible to receive this scholarship, and the scholarship application is designed to be as inclusive as possible for community members.

The application can be found here: https://goo.gl/oixNTe

If you have any questions about the application or the scholarship itself, do not hesitate to reach out to Julian Gerez, IFC Vice-President for Standards, at juliangerez2017@u.northwestern.edu.

Though we hope that this scholarship can provide support for members of our community, we recognize that this is not a complete solution. The IFC executive board is committed to working with chapter presidents, treasurers and rules committees to work on the implementation of individualized scholarships for each chapter, increased transparency for dues, and the reassessment of chapter costs in order to continue to increase financial accessibility.

These initiatives, along with the new scholarship, are necessary steps that we’re taking to enhance our efforts to make the IFC community more welcoming for all students.

Interfraternally,

Will Altabef, IFC President

Julian Gerez, IFC Vice-President for Standards

Jacob Kerr, IFC Vice-President for Administration

An Open Letter to Students before Winter Recruitment:

Freshman year can be a confusing time. It is a time where we can most easily meet new people, explore new interests, and challenge both ourselves and the world around us. Freshman year is also an opportunity to shed our personas from high school and to be someone new. Regardless of who you are, who you were, and who you want to be, during this time there is an immense pressure for us to quickly fit in, find our clique, and live up to every expectation we set for our own college experience.

This January, hundreds of excited men and women in the class of 2019 will meet their newfound brothers and sisters through IFC and PHA recruitment. For many of us at Northwestern, we rely on winter recruitment to find that group of students who just ‘get us’. Recruitment offers the promise of new friendship, belonging, and a place where we can truly be comfortable with ourselves while we continue to navigate through this new cold labyrinth we call winter quarter. But winter recruitment is sometimes far from this fairy tale narrative. That is why we are writing this letter to you.

To the Class of 2019, transfers, and to anyone participating in winter recruitment: do not let winter recruitment define who you are. Fraternity life can be fantastic. Indeed, many of the writers of this letter found an immediate sense of belonging within our chapters. For others of us, recruitment proved to be challenging, with the bonds of friendship only forming over time. And some of us have experienced dissent with our organizations, never truly finding that sense of brotherhood or sisterhood we sought when we decided to participate in recruitment. All of our stories are different, as will be yours. We cannot tell you what will be right for you, but we can urge you to go into recruitment with an open mind.

Recruitment Week at Northwestern is one of the first times when we must answer the question, “What do you want, and why here, and why now?” This is not answered on the “Common App”, nor to our moms at dinner when we want to go over to a friend’s house. This is answered to a group of people who we hope to one day call our brothers and sisters. For some it can be terrifying, for others it can be awe-inspiring. This can be one of the first times that we let ourselves be vulnerable, and in that short week we give our pitch, repeat it dozens of times, and then, as quickly as it seemed to sneak up on us, the week is over. This week is a time many of us feel the most inadequate or the most competent. We ask ourselves, did I say the right things, wear the right clothes, talk to the right people, act cool, speak the right way? Was I good enough? These questions can get lodged in our throats. and can weigh as heavy as boulders in our minds.

Rejection or acceptance. Bid or no bid. Not knowing if what we put out there – which is usually everything we have to offer – was enough can be stressful, as that yes or no can be a life-altering word. For others of us, recruitment can flip our social lives on their heads, sending all of the friends we made in fall quarter scattered in different directions. Some of you may feel lost, wondering if you did something wrong, or if you made some poor decision.

But we are here to say that you have already proven, through your tenacity, hard work and willingness to try new experiences, that you are good enough. Don’t let the fear of rejection cause you mental distress or to question your life worth, and don’t let the success of acceptance misguide you on a path of ostentation. Don’t let the thought of others in your residence halls starting to go on their own paths winter quarter prevent you from going on your own. And if rejection does come around, know that you are not alone. Sometimes it can feel like the world is falling from beneath your feet, but it’s not. You’re just flying higher. You will learn and grow from your recruitment experience and be a better person, regardless of if you get a bid. If you don’t find your home here in Fraternity & Sorority Life, then you will find it somewhere else. We know you can. We know you will.

To those of you who do not find your ‘dream’ organization, to those of you who are not immediate “besties” with every new brother, and to those of you who forgo recruitment altogether: you are not alone.

Winter quarter can be a stressful time. Not knowing whether you should wear three layers of clothing or four layers, walking with your back against the wind (literally) as you walk from north campus to south campus, and always having that little glimmer of hope that Morty will send out an email with the headline “Classes Are Cancelled” really takes a toll on you. But there is also the lingering stress of not knowing where you’ll end up, seeing your friends all start to live their busy lives, and missing the warmth of your bed back home. Winter quarter sucks, there’s very little way around that. Seasonal depression can impact any of us, especially during recruitment week. But as we’ve said several times in this letter and will continue to say ‘til we’re ushered off stage, you are not alone.

Finally, as you navigate through this quarter, we want to remind you first that there are always people whom you can ask for help. This winter many of us will get physically sick, and when this happens we will most likely consume tylenol, cough drops, and hot chicken soup to help us feel better. However, many of us will have mental health that suffers, and unlike our coughs and colds, we may elect to do absolutely nothing to get better. Schedule some time for yourself, and if you feel things crashing down, sometimes all we need to do is talk to someone. There are many links to resources on campus posted at the bottom of this letter, but remember that you also have each other. Take care of yourself, ‘Cats, but also try to be there for those around you, because we, as students, are the most abundant resource available on campus. No matter what happens during winter, or during recruitment, you are not alone.

Resources:

Resources

Signed,

Jacob Swiatek, MENtal Health President

Rodney Orr, IFC Chapter President

Walker McKinney, IFC Chapter President

Sarah Moss, NU Active Minds Co-President

Isaac Rappoport, MENtal Health

Neal Davidson, MENtal Health

Max Sterling, MENtal Health

Alex Gedalin, MENtal Health

Daniel Loizzo III, IFC VP for Programming

Daniel Perlovsky, IFC Chapter President

Jason Crain, IFC Chapter President

Joseph Raff, IFC Chapter President

Samuel Levant, IFC Chapter President

Hrid Biswas, IFC Chapter President

Michael Foulkes, IFC Chapter President

Thomas Hyman, IFC Chapter President

Andrew Dai, IFC Chapter President

Will Altabef, IFC Chapter President

Daniel Isaacson, IFC Chapter President

Joe Sauer, IFC VP for Recruitment

Julian Gerez, IFC VP for Public Relations

Fraternity Recruitment Information for Freshmen – 2015

Welcome to Northwestern! With Wildcat Welcome coming to a close, you’re surely taking the next step into being fully acclimated into becoming a Wildcat. We are happy to hear about you interest in Fraternity life. Here is some information about our recruitment process for the upcoming year.

  • Before October 4th, the Freshmen Freeze will be in place (this means freshmen cannot visit chapter facilities) so just focus on getting started up with life at Northwestern!
  • October 4th will be the date of our Recruitment Kickoff at Norris Lawn: come by for food and a chance to meet members of all the recruiting fraternities!
  • The very next week on October 18th, IFC will be hosting a recruitment how-to in which we will outline dates and helpful tips. After that will be the very first Sunday Night Dinner, where you can choose to enter chapter houses, eat more food, and meet more members!
  • Recruitment Week is the first week after winter break (starting on Monday, January 4th) and is when fraternities can extend offers of invitation to new members.

We are so excited to meet the newest members of the Northwestern community!

Fraternity and Sorority Life Award Winners

Congratulations to all of our award winners! We are also so proud of those who were recognized at the Wildcat Excellence Awards: Joey Becker of Northwestern Alpha Epsilon Pi – Tau Delta Chapter, Greek Man of the Year; Sigma Nu at Northwestern, Chapter of the Year and IFC member Andrew Green of Northwestern Delta Tau Delta for being recognized as a member of the Highest Order of Excellence Society. Very well deserved!

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