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After assaults and settlement, USU redefines relationship with Greek Row

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Posted - Aug. 13, 2020 at 8:21 a.m.

LOGAN — Utah State University announced recently it has entered into a relationship agreement with several campus fraternities and sororities that will make them official student organizations.

The move comes two years after the university settled a lawsuit with a former student who was raped at a Logan fraternity house in 2015. It vowed in 2018 to make broad changes to its sexual assault policies.

In a news release, Utah State Vice President of Student Affairs James Morales said the agreement "is one part of a series of substantial changes to the organization of the fraternity and sorority life system at the university to provide greater accountability, education, and support for students.

“A more formal relationship with greater connections helps assure students and their parents that these organizations are operating according to their expressed values and objectives,” Morales said.

Utah State's Paige Eidenschink told KSL.com she has seen a "huge improvement" in the university's relationship with its Greek organizations in the two years since she came on the job in August 2018. "Being hired as the first full-time fraternity and sorority life coordinator at the university was huge," Eidenschink said, "just because it allows me to advocate, advise them, and just really get them integrated into the campus community."

Not every Utah State Greek organization entered the agreement, though Morales said they may do so in the future. The organizations that signed a relationship agreement are:

  • Alpha Chi Omega
  • Delta Sigma Phi
  • Kappa Delta
  • Phi Gamma Delta
  • Psi Sigma Phi, Inc.
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Theta Nu Xi, Inc.

Meanwhile, the organizations that opted not to join are:

  • Alpha Sigma Phi
  • Alpha Tau Omega
  • Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Sigma Chi

Morales said the university is engaged in ongoing talks with those four organizations.

"Our model is to keep those doors of dialogue open," he said, "because as the chapters that didn't sign look at their future, in the next go-around with the agreement next spring, they may want to sign on. In addition, we've committed to refining the relationship agreement over time. So it's not an etched-in-stone document; it's something that's alive and flexible, and we'll refine it as we go along."

The Utah State news release says organizations that signed agreements will be given "several privileges" as student organizations, including "the use of (student association) marketing resources and listing on the USU website, university event resources and discounted rates, priority booking for facilities, recruitment activities monitored by the Fraternity and Sorority Life Council, participation in USU’s opportunities for leadership education and training, as well as social and recreational programs free of charge."

Fraternities and sororities had until July 1 to sign an agreement with Utah State, the release says. The agreements are designed to give the university greater oversight of the organizations and require they report allegations of misconduct to the university.

"Our goal was to re-look at the posture the university had in terms of its relationship with its Greek organizations," Morales said. "And really, rather than saying, 'You're over there and we're over here,' we're in this together. We should work toward these common goals of safety and well-being for all of our students. We should work with all of our key partners. And these Greek chapters were a part of those key partners."

None of the Greek organizations KSL.com reached out to returned a request for comment.

Victoria Hewlett, whose lawsuit spurred the changes, was raped in 2015 by student Brian Relopez in his bedroom at the Sigma Chi fraternity house. In a 2018 joint op-ed with Hewlett and university President Noelle Crockett, they wrote the "journey to impactful change" for Utah State "comes through actions that would turn that horrible experience into a moment of reform."

"We're really pleased that the seven chapters that signed the agreement did so," Morales said. "We're excited to work with them this coming year. And again, we're committed to continuing the conversation with those four that did not."

Utah State will begin its fall semester on Aug. 31.

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