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Steps in the Right Direction

Higher Education

In September of 2017, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), a trade association of more than 65 fraternal organizations of which Sigma Nu is a leading member, adopted new health and safety measures to build upon long-standing fraternal risk reduction efforts and further address critical issues affecting campuses across the country.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of our members and guests. Recent alcohol-related events on college campuses are deeply concerning to us. Alcohol abuse is a serious public health concern on campuses, as more than 1,800 college students die each year from injuries related to alcohol, a handful of which are fraternity men. This is why the 66 organizations of the North-American Interfraternity Conference recently came together to focus on measures to enhance health and safety across the fraternity experience,” NIC President & CEO Judson Horras said of the new measures.

The first of these new measures is implementation of medical Good Samaritan policies intended to remove any hesitation in seeking help when an emergency arises by minimizing concern for potential disciplinary actions. Each NIC member fraternity will adopt such to complement similar policies that already exist on many campuses.

Second, each member fraternity will implement — or, in the case of Sigma Nu, continue to implement — annually, baseline health and safety educational programs for all collegiate chapters. Sigma Nu’s current extensive programs in this area include GreekLifeEdu and numerous portions of the LEAD Program.

Lastly, the NIC will support a pilot program for assessing the effectiveness, on specific campuses, of new procedures intended to reduce alcohol misuse. This initiative will depend upon a partnership with stakeholders on each pilot campus, including collegiate chapters, officers and members, the local interfraternity council, alumni leaders, student affairs professionals, and the national headquarters. As Horras described it, “This pilot approach blends policy rooted in research, best practices in education, enhanced procedures to make events safer, and consistent assessment to measure the effectiveness of these interventions.”

One of the components of the pilot program is the testing of new event planning and management software called SocialSafe. Through SocialSafe, trusted event venues, third-party vendors, and transportation and security providers will create profiles to facilitate partnerships for safe events.

These new health and safety measures are indicative of the traditional leadership role fraternities have taken on their campuses on risk reduction matters. Student leadership is the critical component. “Fraternities have been focused on reducing alcohol abuse and hazing for many years. Today, national fraternities are concentrated on health and safety through education, policy, research, and accountability. This is having a trickle-down effect to students. We are seeing students step up to lead, enhancing the health and safety standards in their communities. This is a positive sign — they are taking responsibility for their community and showing commitment to safety and accountability,” Horras said.

For Sigma Nu’s part, these changes won’t be revolutionary due to the Fraternity’s consistent leadership in this area, including the adoption of the first comprehensive risk reduction policy in the field. But, as with all organizations, we can improve and we must respond effectively to new challenges as they arise.

One of Sigma Nu’s more recent steps was the creation in 2017 of the full-time staff position of Director of Health and Safety position to expand the Fraternity’s focus on education and prevention efforts.

While no new policies or efforts are capable of absolute prevention, they can further empower fraternity men with the education and support to lead the way on campus for safer and healthier student communities. That, of course, is a goal Sigma Nu Fraternity has supported since our founding almost 150 years ago.

© 2015-2018 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: 540.463.1869 | Fax: 540.463.1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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