Frats slowly up safety measures

Arkeo is an organization tasked with promoting safety at fraternity parties.

Evelina Smirnitskaya

With the new semester well underway, University of Minnesota fraternities are still working on ridding themselves of the stigma of sexual assault allegations from fall. But instead of returning to the status quo, the communityâÄôs leadership is seeking to move forward.
Strict regulations on social events and gatherings passed by the Interfraternity Council in November remain active for all its members, said Chuck Seymour, executive member of IFC. He said the communityâÄôs main focus now is on setting up the Arkeo program.
Arkeo is an organization tasked with promoting safety at fraternity parties. ItâÄôs comprised of three executive officers and a group of volunteers âÄî 25 as of last semester, and recruitment is underway.
Because all of ArkeoâÄôs members are greeks, the group amounts to a self-police force tasked with observing fraternity parties for rule violations.
The program was introduced in late November in response to three alleged sexual assaults within two weeks in early fall.
The program has yet to take off.
The delay is due to a number of logistical issues that havenâÄôt been worked out, Arkeo Founder and Director Martin Cech said.
âÄúThere is a lot of coordination that it takes,âÄù he said.
The main concern is liability.
Arkeo is meant only as an observation group âÄî functioning âÄúas an audit of a social eventâÄù to ensure all risk regulations are being followed, Cech said.
Observing is different than monitoring because, as observers, the volunteers act strictly as witnesses. They can report to the proper authorities if something illegal actually takes place but cannot step in.
Cech said itâÄôs ArkeoâÄôs responsibility to make sure these students are protected, and insurance might be necessary to take liability off the fraternities.
But Seth Thompson, president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and one of ArkeoâÄôs executive officers, said the group has received mixed reviews on whether the volunteers will need to be insured âÄî specifically the men, who are not covered by the National Panhellenic Conference like the women are.
Cech said he has been working with University Student Legal Service, as well as other departments within the University overseeing student life and activities, to figure out what needs to be done. For now, nothing is set.
Meanwhile, IFC-member fraternities are still allowed to hold social events if they register the events with the IFC.
Regulations passed last semester and still in effect restrict alcohol and limit gatherings to fraternity members, who are each allowed one guest, Thompson said. Guests should be members of the greek community.
Thompson said this part of the policy is up to individual chapters to police âÄî an honor system.
Because of the differences in membership and recruitment process for each organization, Thompson said it is possible for people who are not registered with the University as greek members to act as a members.
âÄúYou canâÄôt just look at someone and tell if theyâÄôre greek or not,âÄù he said.
Thompson said all this should be smoother once Arkeo is fully set up âÄî which he said will happen within a few weeks after the insurance question has been settled.
As a self-monitoring program, the group will be run and sustained by greeks themselves, which Thompson thinks is an asset.
âÄúThe only way to promote positive change is to work from the inside with those who are dedicated to seeing this change happen,âÄù he said.
Both Thompson and Seymour said the community is looking to move on, and the rules are in everyoneâÄôs best interest.