University of Georgia Vice President of Student Affairs Victor Wilson sent a letter to Greek life members and leaders on Aug. 22 condemning “the current off-campus activity” that has taken place over the last few weeks.
Wilson emailed the letter to Greek life members and leaders warning against off-campus gatherings and events that compromise public health compliance. The letter condemning high-risk behaviors came after months of Greek life organizations faced scrutiny for hosting parties during COVID-19 and at the end of a busy recruitment season.
“The off-campus gatherings, the lack of compliance to good public health practices, and the continued behaviors that put your friends’ and community members’ health in jeopardy HAVE TO STOP,” Wilson wrote.
The Interfraternity Council appeared to heed Wilson’s warning on Aug. 27 when they passed a new bill tightening their COVID-19 guidelines. The new bill, Bill 105–09, is an amendment to Bill 105–08, and passed unanimously, according to a tweet from UGA’s Twitter account.
Last night, @UGA_IFC IFC passed a Bill (25-0, 2 abstain) requiring Chapters to:— UGA (@universityofga) August 28, 2020
- Keep House capacity under 50 before 6:59 p.m.; and
- Restrict visitation by non-Chapter Members between 7p and 7a
- There was also a previous bill prohibiting alcohol at events with 50+#DawgStrong pic.twitter.com/A6CDzUfOda
The bill requires IFC fraternity houses cannot have visitors other than “a pledge or active roster member, or the parent/guardian thereof” between the hours of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to the bill. The bill also states that houses must abide by their respective capacity limit. A separate bill passed previously prohibited alcohol at events with 50 or more attendees.
The amendment to the previous bill also added a definition to the term “social event,” which is considered “a function or gathering with more than fifty (50) persons at a Chapter House & Property after 7:00 PM EST,” according to the bill.
After UGA Panhellenic’s virtual Bid Day on Aug. 23, sororities were seen attempting to gather at their chapter houses as well as off-campus locations. The Red & Black is working to confirm what active steps the chapters will take to follow UGA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines after Wilson’s letter.
Wilson said that unless changes are made to the off-campus behavior, UGA may have to cancel student activities and transition to fully remote learning. He urged students to follow COVID-19 guidelines on an individual level.
“This doesn’t just happen at the council or chapter level. Each of us – each individual member, each leader, each advisor – has to do our part in exhibiting good practices and behaviors and speaking up to others who aren’t,” Wilson said, who was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at UGA and now serves on the fraternity’s national board of directors.
Previously, IFC used a fine system to enforce compliance with social distancing guidelines. Chapters who don’t comply with the new guidelines will be fined, according to an Aug. 28 statement by IFC president Brennan Cox.
In the statement, Cox supported IFC council members for making “the right” choice to protect the community.
“From the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, public health has been and remains the Council’s guiding principle in acting as good campus and community citizens, while providing a meaningful fraternity experience for nearly 2,600 undergraduates,” Cox wrote.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the time that IFC fraternity houses cannot have visitors. The Red & Black regrets this error and it has since been fixed.