Troubled semester leads to greek peer monitoring system

A group called Arkeo will supervise fraternity parties for IFC violations.

by Urmila Ramakrishnan

After a semester marred with sexual assault allegations, University of Minnesota fraternities are coming together to form the greek party police.
Organizers plan to implement Arkeo, as it will be known, in the spring semester. So far 28 greek students have signed on to help with the social-monitoring group for fraternity house parties, said Seth Thompson, president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and educational coordinator of Arkeo.
âÄúThis is much more a direct response to the sexual assaults that we had on campus and not directly related to the alcohol ban,âÄù Thompson said, referring to the ban recently lifted by the UniversityâÄôs Interfraternity Council.
Arkeo is meant to do more than prevent sexual assault, said Chad Ellsworth, coordinator of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life.
âÄúI think that, with everything thatâÄôs happened, itâÄôs not just the three incidents that got a lot of publicity, but there are a lot of folks going to the hospital because of excessive intoxication.âÄù
The group will enforce a âÄúBYOBâÄù âÄî short for âÄúBring Your Own BeerâÄù âÄî policy, forbid hard alcohol at parties, implement set guest lists and identify underage attendees, possibly with colored wristbands, Thompson said. Volunteers will have a checklist of ArkeoâÄôs policies, he said.
While Arkeo volunteers will ensure the policies are being followed, Thompson said it is up to IFC to enforce punishment for any wrongdoing, based on reports from Arkeo volunteers.
Volunteers will also undergo a mandatory training of at least 10 hours before attending any events, Thompson said. Additional training will follow throughout the semester as well.
Thompson said that the group will consist of 10 to 15 IFC affiliated fraternities and another five to 10 sororities.
Jeffrey Shultz, president of the Omega Nu Alpha fraternity, thinks the group will be positive for the entire community.
Greeks are the basis of the group because they are the most familiar with the applicable policies, specifically IFC policy, Thompson said.
Thompson hopes the group is in effect by the beginning of next semester, although he cautioned that itâÄôs âÄúreally up in the air right now.âÄù
âÄúWe donâÄôt have a good timeline of when this group will go into effect,âÄù he said. âÄúWe are hoping to be up and running as soon as next semester starts, but a lot of that is out of our hands at the moment.âÄù
The group is currently in the process of recruiting volunteers and dealing with eligibility and legal issues, including attempts to become a University student group.
âÄúArkeo can help, if it is properly enforced,âÄù Beta Theta Pi Vice President Sam Wells said. He said the design is fairly straightforward and requires fraternity houses to âÄúcrack downâÄù on every aspect of risk management, helping to curb incidents because people will be âÄúmore careful about their actions and who they let into the house.âÄù
But backlash against âÄúoutsidersâÄù being in the houses could be a negative factor, IFC President Martin Chorzempa predicted.
The group was inspired by similar programs around other Big Ten schools, Ellsworth said. One of the biggest examples of its success was at Purdue University, Thompson said.