Interfraternity Council holds meeting, proposes new initiatives following St. Patrick’s Day party

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Eric Henry

Students walk on the Quad, located on the Lincoln Park campus.

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) is exploring new initiatives to mitigate risk surrounding Covid-19 following a March 13 St. Patrick’s Day party attended by members of at least three Fraternity & Sorority Life organizations. Images surfaced from that day and published in The DePaulia show that the party was held outdoors, but violated Covid-19 safety guidelines.

In response, DePaul’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) met on March 22 to talk about the events that transpired on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. New proposals aimed at enforcing Covid-19 safety guidelines were also discussed. The general body meeting was open only to members of the IFC community. 

IFC Vice President of Standards Galen Deats said that the executive board is “currently developing the bylaws to make [a] ‘Covid Task Force,’” which would be aimed at ensuring that each chapter follows CDC health guidelines. 

The task force is expected to consist of members of each chapter who would work with the risk managers from existing chapters to keep fraternity members in line with these health protocols. Further details of this initiative will be made available once these plans are finalized. 

Deats voiced his disappointment surrounding the events of March 13, and was surprised to hear the extent of Fraternity & Sorority Life’s involvement. 

“After the initial shock factor subsided, me and the rest of the executive board saw this as an opportunity to prove that we can respond effectively to events like this,” Deats said. “We want to show that the IFC can regulate itself and hold its members accountable.”

Deats was pleased with the outcome of the March 22 meeting, and hopes that a proactive IFC will discourage future violations of Covid-19 health guidelines in the Fraternity & Sorority Life community. 

“I think people are going to take this seriously; I know that this is something that the rest of the executive board is,” he said.

Pierrie Jefferson, DePaul’s coordinator of traditions and Fraternity & Sorority Life, was also among the meeting’s attendees. He shared with The DePaulia the protocol that student organizations must currently follow in order to safely host in-person events.

“Every registered student organization is required to go through in-person event training before they’re able to host an in-person event,” Jefferson shared via email. “Our Fraternity & Sorority Life community is also required to go to a separate event and risk management training specifically geared to Fraternity & Sorority Life chapters.”

The St. Patrick’s Day party in question was not an officially registered event, and certainly didn’t follow Fraternity & Sorority Life’s established guidelines. Nonetheless, Jefferson thought the IFC meeting on March 22 helped chapters come to a mutual understanding of the risks of the incident and others like it.

“I believe the meeting was effective to ensure that the fraternity community is on the same page surrounding these concerns,” Jefferson wrote. 

Even with the measures being taken by IFC, chapters will still be ultimately responsible for regulating themselves when it comes to any unofficial events. Fraternity & Sorority Life is limited in what they can do to prevent unsanctioned gatherings like the one that took place on March 13, but Jefferson said that he is optimistic following the IFC meeting. 

“It is up to our chapters and their leaders to enforce new policies that IFC puts forward and also up to them to take them seriously,” Jefferson wrote. 

Time will tell if the fallout from the St. Patrick’s Day party will discourage future violations of Covid-19 health guidelines. Many in the DePaul community expressed outrage over the gathering’s disregard for public safety following The DePaulia’s original reporting on the incident in March.

For more context, The DePaulia spoke with a DePaul student and attendee of the March 13 party, who requested anonymity. The student said that they were unsurprised at the reaction that the party garnered after witnessing its size firsthand. 

“I was told by a few friends to come, but I didn’t anticipate it getting as big as it did,” the student said. “Once lots of people started showing up, I figured somebody was probably going to get in trouble for it.”

The student believed that IFC and Fraternity & Sorority Life’s responses to the event were warranted, but was skeptical that either organization could stop gatherings like this from occurring in the future.

“Parties like that will probably continue to happen anyways, whether or not people from Greek Life are involved,” the student said.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Chicago are continuing to rise despite vaccinations becoming more readily available for Cook County residents.