With fraternities across the United States making headlines for hazing, suspension and other issues, many may be concerned about the safety of Greek life today.
Nick Altwies, the founder of the Society Advocating Fraternal Excellence or “SAFE,” hopes to change that with his website Safefrat.com, which was launched on Sept. 19 and aims to “provide data and elevate transparency on each male fraternity chapter located at many of the major colleges and universities in the United States and Canada,” according to the society’s press release.
“When you join a fraternity, you can have nothing happen to you, but as is well documented, people die [in fraternity accidents],” said Altwies, an Arizona State University graduate and the former national assistant executive director of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. “What we are trying to do is build up resources and support systems so that it is a well managed experience.”
There are 26 active Interfraternity Council chapters listed on the website, and each has a “chapter profile” which includes space for an overview, as well as scholastic, volunteer and discipline information, although most of the chapters only have grade point average information at this time.
SAFE, a self-funded company based in Kentucky, is currently a one-man show with Altwies at the helm.
Altwies said he came up with the idea for a database of fraternity information in 2009 in response to the death of California Polytechnic State University fraternity pledge Carson Starkey and after conversations with concerned parents.
“I think for entering freshman, [SAFE] may be good as something to look at in the summer before rush begins,” said Justin Becker, a junior sports management and marketing major at the University of Georgia.
Becker, who has been a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity since the spring semester of 2013, did not look to any specific outside resources when choosing a fraternity, but said he instead spoke to older students to find out about the organization’s reputation.
The target audience for the SAFE site is parents and high school juniors and seniors beginning to consider fraternities, and the database does not encompass sororities, which Altwies said are generally very well managed with alumni support.