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1/24/2019  |  2:45 PM Relationship Agreement for Social Fraternities and Sororities updated for health & safety

Twenty-four organizations signed; 12 forgo signing.

In order for fraternities and sororities to receive recognition from the University of Nevada, Reno, a relationship agreement must be signed. This agreement affirms each chapter's commitment to promote a unified community of integrity, character and cultural diversity. Health and safety was the University's number one reason for strengthening the 2018 and 2019 relationship agreements. It ensures student safety, security and accountability by providing students with the necessary education and resources available on campus.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 a total of 24 fraternities and sororities chose to sign the agreement. Twelve did not sign and are now unrecognized by the University, meaning they are no longer eligible for the same opportunities or resources that the campus provides to recognized organizations.

In January 2018, the University amended its Relationship Agreement for Fraternities and Sororities on campus to enhance the health and safety of fraternity and sorority students. At the time, five fraternities did not sign the agreement leading to Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Sigma, Kappa Alpha Order, Zeta Psi and Theta Chi not being recognized for the 2018 calendar year.

Most recently, all six of the University's National Panhellenic Conference sororities (Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Pi Beta Phi, and Sigma Kappa) did not sign the 2019 University Relationship Agreement. Additionally, two new North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternities did not sign the agreement, including Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Phi. While these organizations signed the agreement, agreeing with the changes in 2018, their national headquarters and conference organizations have directed these organizations to not sign the agreement for 2019.

"These sororities and fraternities were told by their national headquarters not to sign the agreement," Megan Pepper, University director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said. "Additionally, the National Panhellenic Conference also told the sororities not to sign the agreement and the North-American Interfraternity Conference supported the fraternities' decision not to sign. While this decision by these organizations is unfortunate, we have been actively trying to engage these groups since February of 2018 in ongoing dialogue to develop an agreement all parties were comfortable with."

One of the fraternities, Kappa Sigma, that did not seek recognition in 2018 is seeking recognition for 2019.

A list of frequently asked questions about this topic, can be found here.

The three items organizations have taken issue with include the ability to associate with unrecognized student organizations, chapter facility live-in advisors for NIC fraternities and the reporting of chapter actions to hold members accountable.

"Each chapter has a process in place to hold their members accountable," Pepper said. "The updated relationship agreement states that the University is looking for information about what incidences are occurring within these organizations and for how they are holding their members accountable. This will better allow the University to provide resources and support to those chapters."

Pepper said one way this has been helpful is in identifying trends among organizations in order to put educational programming in place. She said the revised agreement has allowed them to collaborate with experts on campus to ensure programming is specific and relevant to fraternity and sorority member experiences at the University.

"The majority of our chapters agree that the current relationship agreement puts in place important steps to ensure student accountability and safety," University Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis said. "Our goal is to educate students in a healthy, safe and secure environment. Our policies and Student Code of Conduct are clear: conduct that endangers the health or safety of any member or guest of the University cannot be tolerated."

The recent choice to separate from the University of Nevada, Reno by the National Panhellenic Conference, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Phi impacts more than 1,000 students.

Given the desire by many of the University's fraternity and sorority students to sign the agreement, the University is open to continued conversation and communication with each of the local chapters, national organizations, the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference.

"We applaud the 24 organizations who signed the relationship agreement this year and who clearly understand the intention behind the agreement," Pepper said. "The University looks forward to continuing to work with these chapter leaders, members, advisors and to providing the student success resources of the University."