Eight fraternities disaffiliate, form independent interfraternity council

At the time of publication, the new University Park Interfraternity Council consists of TKE, Beta Theta Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Chi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Alpha Mu. (Daily Trojan file photo)

Eight of the fifteen chapters of USC’s Interfraternity Council have rescinded their affiliations with the University at the time of publication, together forming a new, independent University Park Interfraternity Council.

In a statement posted to Instagram Saturday, Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Beta Sigma chapter said its disaffiliation came after discussions spanning the past seven months “regarding declaring independence from the University and the USC IFC.”

At the time of publication, the UPIFC consists of TKE, Beta Theta Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Chi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Alpha Mu. The IFC and leaders of most UPIFC chapters did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Daily Trojan

The UPIFC’s creation comes after a hectic year for USC fraternities: Following reports of druggings and sexual assaults at several fraternities and subsequent student protests last October, the USC IFC suspended all fraternity-sanctioned events while it investigated. The suspension remained in effect until Jan. 18, when the University approved a phased return to social activities for fraternities that completed mandatory sexual assault training.

The UPIFC has, against University policy, opened registrations for fall rush and removed requirements to complete a minimum of 12 credits before applying, meaning first-semester freshmen may rush, along with Trojan Transfer Pathway students and spring admits. UPIFC rush registration will close Aug. 18, and rush will begin Aug. 19.

“We hope that this new council will allow its members to conduct rush, social, philanthropy, and brotherhood events in a safe and respectful environment,” TKE wrote in its statement, “while granting each fraternity the freedom to express itself freely without previous restrictions imposed by the university.”

USC wrote in a statement posted to Instagram Saturday that it was “disappointed” in the disaffiliated fraternities, whose members it said are “chafing at procedures” designed to investigate and prevent “serious issues like sexual assaults.”

“This decision is detrimental and goes against 130 years of tradition,” the University statement read. “We strongly urge students not to join these unaffiliated organizations or attend their events, and we will continue to uphold our high expectations for behavior in our neighboring communities.”

USC will continue to hold individual members to the “same high standards of behavior as the rest of our students,” according to its statement — but disaffiliated fraternities will lose the privileges afforded to university organizations, the University said in its statement. Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Monique Allard and Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development director Devin Walker outlined these privileges — including participation in USC Involvement Fairs, leadership development opportunities through FSLD and representation on campus-wide committees and working groups — in a separate letter to IFC leaders and members Aug. 6.

When asked by the Daily Trojan, the University said it had no additional comment regarding the UPIFC. 

Tylar Hedrick, a junior majoring in international relations and Spanish, said she believes disaffiliating from the University would not solve the issue of sexual assaults, or the racism, sexism and homophobia present in Greek life.

“Those are just things that need to be addressed on a larger scale regardless, and I don’t know if disaffiliating helps to solve that,” Hedrick said. “By disassociating, you lose the potential to collaborate on solutions, and to institutionalize those solutions.”

Piya Garg, a junior majoring in international relations and global business and president of USC Flow, a student intersectional-feminist organization, called the creation of the new UPIFC a “scary prospect.”

“[With] even the few measures that USC has put in place to react to or prevent sexual assault and other harmful practices … there’s no guarantee those will even be upheld, or even required, in the new interfraternity council that the disaffiliated frats have formed,” Garg said.

She also criticized USC’s statement, saying it was “hypocritical” and demonstrated the University’s “reactive and not preventative” stance on issues like sexual assault.

“The statement itself talked about their high standards of behavior, and the procedures and protocols that the administration put into place to address sexual assault and other issues,” Garg said. “As we’ve seen this past year, especially, those procedures and protocols have been pretty futile.”

Garg referred to a statement released Oct. 27 by then-USG president Alexis Areias — and co-signed by representatives for USC Flow, Girl Up SC, USC Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, and Trojan Democrats — which included a list of demands to the University, the IFC and the Panhellenic Council, including accountability for perpetrators and institutional reform. Garg said those demands were never met.

“There has been no action taken, even though those demands are very tangible and doable,” she said. “And we have to question: is the University actively advocating for students and for survivors — and potential survivors? Or is it more just saving face?”