Kathy Adams Riester, associate vice provost for student affairs at Indiana University. (Courtesy photo)
Kathy Adams Riester, associate vice provost for student affairs at Indiana University. (Courtesy photo)
Smaller chapters and licensed bartenders are being considered as ways to help make fraternities at Indiana University safer.

Concerned about high-profile stories of hazing deaths at fraternity chapters around the country, IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel formed a group in spring 2018 to examine greek life at IU. The group, made up of 12 alumni that were involved with fraternity and sorority life at IU, has been dubbed the “greek task force.” Members are supposed to find ways to improve four areas of greek life: student safety, academic success, good citizenship, diversity and inclusion.

“The biggest focus so far has been on student safety,” said Kathy Adams Riester, associate vice provost for student affairs at IU.

Some smaller rule changes are also being finalized, Riester said. Those will be rolled out during the fall 2019 semester.

The task force is considering some larger changes that Dean of Students Dave O’Guinn presented to the IU Board of Trustees last month. At the top of that list was a reduction in chapter sizes.

IU Bloomington has one of the largest greek communities in the country, with more than 8,000 undergraduate students involved in more than 70 fraternity and sorority chapters. At some of these chapters, more than half the members live off campus outside the chapter house, Riester said. Many of the people living in the chapter houses are sophomores. Juniors are often gone for study-abroad trips, and seniors typically live off campus. Those who live off campus may not be as familiar with new rules or they may not be willing to follow them.

The task force is grappling with questions such as what a sophomore chapter president should do when challenged by a senior member. One potential solution is to mandate more upperclassmen serve in leadership roles, but Riester isn’t sure that’s realistic.

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