Why Recognition Is Important and When a Prospective Member or Parents Should Be Concerned
TYPES OF FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES AT MICHIGAN
Understanding the range and type of fraternities and sororities at Michigan can be confusing. There are general Greek-letter (sometimes referred to as “social”), professional, service, and culturally-based fraternities and sororities. They may be local (only existing at Michigan) or inter/national (with other chapters across the United States and /or in other countries.)
Fraternities and sororities at the University of Michigan can receive recognition from one or more of the following sources:
All Greek Life affiliated organizations recognized by one of the four councils above are also required to be recognized by the Center for Campus Involvement.
Greek Life Office Council Recognition:
Recognition through the Office of Greek Life falls under one of four self-governing student councils (the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Panhellenic Association). Membership in these councils is received by the processes outlined in each council’s bylaws. All of these councils are recognized by the Office of Greek Life, so removal from a council removes the services, privileges, and oversight afforded by both the Greek Life Office and the governing council. The Greek Community Achievement Expectations Program drives organizations to succeed and receive recognition for their good work and proactive risk management efforts. The privilege of student self-governance allows students to hold each other accountable to the values they hold in common, and the councils actively work to maintain these standards.
National/International Organization Recognition:
Most of Michigan’s 65 fraternities and sororities are part of a national or international organization. For serious reasons, an inter/national organization may choose to remove recognition from a chapter by revoking its charter and declaring it “closed.” National organizations hold their chapters to high standards. They frequently visit the chapters and empower local alumni to serve as advisors and actively manage the chapter house via a house corporation. National organizations may also conduct membership reviews and remove individuals from membership when reports of concerning behavior are received.
Center for Campus Involvement (CCI) Recognition:
Over 1200 student organizations receive University recognition through the Center for Campus Involvement (CCI). This affords them certain privileges such the ability to reserve space on campus for meetings and events. Limited oversight, advising support, and accountability measures accompany this type of recognition. Registered organizations are expected to uphold certain basic behavioral standards and will face accountability review if they are charged with violating those standards. Sanctions for violations may be educational and/or restorative in nature, and groups may lose university recognition. See Maize Pages for more information.
Professional, Service-only, and Local Organizations:
Professional (business, medical, dental, etc.), service-only, and local (non-national) fraternities and sororities also exist on campus but do not qualify for membership in a Greek Council, and most do not have national governing bodies. This lack of recognition does not necessarily reflect negatively on them.
WHEN A PROSPECTIVE MEMBER SHOUD BE CONCERNED
A chapter whose recognition has been removed by the University, a Greek Life Council, or an inter/national organization, occasionally will choose to continue functioning without oversight as an organization. In these situations, a group may commonly be referred to as being a “rogue” organization. It is important for a student who is interested in joining a fraternity or sorority to fully understand the implications of joining one of these disaffiliated or “rogue” groups.
Besides the high risk and inappropriate behavior that has usually precipitated the loss of the group’s previous recognition, these organizations no longer benefit from the privileges that their previous recognition afforded. These include, but are not limited to; professional staff and alumni advising and support, proactive educational programming, leadership development, oversight of risk management efforts, service opportunities, academic support, and participation in social, intramural, and other campus and Greek Life activities.
The Office of Greek Life recognizes organizations’ work to demonstrate compliance with their founding values and principles by participating in the Achievement Expectations Program, for which they receive recognition and endorsement. Disaffiliated groups do not participate in these efforts.
The University urges students and their parents to avoid groups currently functioning without the Office of Greek Life, governing council recognition, or national organization oversight.
The groups currently known to be in existence at the University of Michigan without such oversight include:
OZ (formerly Zeta Beta Tau) – expelled by IFC in 2006 for hazing and other risk management issues; this group continued to exist initially for a time with national fraternity recognition and subsequently was closed in Fall 2012 by the national organization for continued risk management violations. The Office of Greek Life continues to receive complaints and concerns about this group.
Sig/Sphinx ( **not Sigma Phi Society see below) – once affiliated with a national fraternity and was closed by the national organization 10 years ago due to high risk behavior and failed obligations to the national organization. The Office of Greek Life continues to receive complaints and concerns about this group.
A third expelled group at the University of Michigan has continued to receive oversight from their national organization throughout their disaffiliation:
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) – This fraternity was expelled from the Interfraternity Council and lost University recognition in January 2011 for hazing violations. Because the fraternity has expressed a desire to rejoin IFC and is actively working to document its reformed behavior, they are currently on an interim status which MAY lead to IFC and University recognition no earlier than Winter 2015. Future recognition will be dependent upon the fulfillment of a series of significant expectations and requirements the group must actively work to meet during the Fall 2014 term.
** Sigma Phi Society is a fraternity recognized by its National Organization and the Univeristy of Michigan. They have chosen not to affiliate with one of the four councils but there is not cause for concern like with the above organizations.
Any questions regarding the recognition status of a fraternity or sorority should be directed to a staff member in the Office of Greek Life 734-936-3686.
Mary Beth Seiler, Director
Devin Berghorst, Assistant Director
Shannon Cohen, Assistant Director
Courtney Monroe, NPHC/MGC Advisor
Chris Kulka, Administrative Coordinator