GV updates Greek Life policies, lifts alcohol ban


GVL \ Marc Green

Sarah Edgecomb, News Editor

After putting temporary sanctions on Greek Life events into effect in October 2018, Grand Valley State University officials have lifted the ban. The organizations’ policies have also been improved to make them more accessible for members. The decision came after months of discussion and updates to existing policies.

“Some of our organizations have had risk-management mishaps which resulted in probations, suspensions,” said President of the Greek Life Board Mikaela Padgen. “Seeing all that happen for the past five years made this happen.”

Beginning in January, a 14-member task force met each week to address issues with the Greek Life policies, with Greek Life officers sitting in on the meetings. Padgen said that this was key in the policy changes.

“The task force was really intentional about including student voices,” Padgen said. “It was really great to see the administration want our input.”

The discussion topics covered philosophy, procedures, policies, enforcement and education for Greek Life. Under the new policies, fraternities and sororities will only be permitted to have alcohol at an event if the organization’s officers have been trained on the updated policies.

Padgen said that previous documents had terminology that was inaccessible, confusing or outdated, and that the task force aimed to improve this.

“Some of them were always there, but they weren’t able to be implemented as easily as they are now,” Padgen said. 

With the regular circulation of graduating and incoming members, Greek Life cultures undergo changes often. Because of this, policies and procedures must adapt with the membership.

In discussing issues with Greek Life, it’s important to mention that this is a nationwide issue, Padgen said. However, the updates at GVSU will help fraternities and sororities better understand the policies as these organizations now have clear guidelines.

Padgen said the culture of the Greek Life community will be benefited through more readable, student-friendly policies and procedures. She said that the updates also served to uphold the university’s Greek Life’s positive reputation, since organizations at GVSU are stricter about hazing and don’t hold rivalries.

“We went through a rough period last year,” Padgen said. “Morale was pretty low, people were confused. So when you have all of these things happening in a community where people feel so connected to each other and to the different organizations, it can be really hard to keep things progressing forward.”

Padgen also said that while the changes were drastic and will take time to adapt to, they have already benefited the organizations and inspired members to emphasize safety. 

With previous issues with alcohol use, Padgen said that the conversation surrounding Greek Life can become negative. She hopes that with the improved policies, people will be reminded of the good work that fraternities and sororities do. 

“A lot of times, the fraternity and sorority life effort can be misconstrued,” Padgen said. “I would just hope that coming out of this, all of our organizations and all of our community members can see the effort that went into this. Hopefully, it comes across that our community does do a lot of good and it is beneficial. Although we have room to grow, we also have a lot to give.”