Greek Life Education

August 24, 2021

OU to offer Sorority and Fraternity educational seminar to Greek Life students Fall Semester

By Molly Wilson | Asst. News Editor

O hio University’s University College, in connection with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, or SFL, have developed a student transition seminar that will guide Greek Life students through their transitions in relation to OU and their Sorority or Fraternity.

The course — UC 1500: Introduction to Sorority and Fraternity Life — will officially begin the week of Sept. 26. All new Greek Life members at OU, primarily those who affiliate with the Interfraternity Council and the Women's Panhellenic Association, regardless of class, will be required to participate in the seven week, half-credit course.

In July, anti-hazing legislation named in memoriam of OU freshman Collin Wiant, who died of asphyxiation at the unofficial Sigma Pi annex house in 2018, was signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Collin’s Law includes a provision related to hazing education, which this course will satisfy.

Ariel Tarosky, director of Sorority and Fraternity Life, pitched the idea of an SFL course in 2019 when she was hired, and it was originally unrelated to Collin’s Law. Her initial idea was a course that new members would be required to take upon affiliation with one of the 29 groups that are under the SFL office.

Last year, students participated in online modules they could click through in addition to a new member education session. Tarosky said she was interested in a longer program that would educate new Greek Life students about their role and rights within their organization.

“I don't know if they are truly … getting the information that the need, that they are retaining it, that they are having the opportunity to ask questions and just have an intentional conversation,” Tarosky said. “I think being able to have touch points throughout the year, being able to work with them as they're exploring new things and their new member process. I think that's really how we can create change.”

Tarosky and Wendy Merb-Brown, assistant dean for Operations and First-Year and Student Transitions, did not start working on the course in-depth until fall 2020. Merb-Brown said she and Tarosky had to adjust the curriculum of the course to fit the general UC 1500 structure as a transition course.

The curriculum includes discussions regarding hazing prevention, bystander intervention, power-based violence and respect, Tarosky said. As part of the student transition seminar, the course will also connect the transition into Greek Life and academic success.

“There are touch points in people's lives where we can help make a difference in educating students about life,” Merb-Brown said. “This is a really good one for students going into the Greek system.”

On Oct. 3 2019, nearly a year after Wiant died, OU suspended Interfraternity Council, which includes 15 chapters. Additionally, on Oct. 9 2019, OU issued cease and desists to three sororities and a professional fraternity, according to a previous Post report.

More recently, OU suspended both Delta Tau Delta and Sigma Chi fraternities for numerous Student Code of Conduct violations — including hazing — in July.

The course will be taught in five sections, all of which are led by volunteers. Affiliation with particular Greek groups does not affect placement in the sections, as students will be able to interact with other individuals outside of their specific organization.

Jenny Hall-Jones, interim vice president for Student Affairs, will be teaching one of the five sections this fall and said she hopes to eliminate the notion that the university does not value Greek Life.

“We know how important (Greek Life) is when done well, and when students get together in these values based organizations. They find a common goal, a common purpose,” Hall-Jones said. “Students can boost a sense of self, they can get more easily connected, they make friends, they create a network.”

Due to the inter-affiliated nature of the course, Tarosky said students will be able to build meaningful connections within Greek Life outside of their chapter and the general OU community.

“This will really help new members build community outside of their individual organization,” Tarosky said. “They're not only going to be able to interact with people in other groups, but they're going to be able to build relationships with faculty, staff and administrators.”

Similarly, Merb-Brown, while never having been in Greek Life herself, acted as the house director for a Sorority as a graduate student and believes Greek Life has a large impact on students' experiences in college.

“I saw really, really great experiences in Greek Life and then I saw some really awful experiences in Greek Life,” Merb-Brown said. “I think that we can be great. We don't need to have awful if we can help students understand why the Greek is going to help them be more successful.”

AUTHOR: Molly Wilson
EDITOR: Ryan Maxin
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai
WEB DEVELOPMENT: Anastasia Carter