Western University student council removes 'special privileges' for fraternities

The University Students' Council (USC) at Western University has voted to remove certain privileges from Greek Life, which encompasses off-campus organizations like fraternities. 

Critics have accused the council of promoting frats and sororities

Frats and sororities have been stripped of their campus privileges. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

Sororities and fraternities at Western University will no longer get to rent space at a discounted rate or host recruiting events on campus. 

The University Students' Council (USC) at Western University voted Wednesday night to remove certain privileges from "Greek Life," which encompasses off-campus organizations like frats and sororoities. 

Greek Life isn't affiliated with the university or the student council, but organizations had certain perks that have now been removed. 

"We got more student feedback and concerns raised by students and councillors about the Greek community on campus and so we wanted to open up that discussion. We realized that while they had these privileges, they hadn't been discussed at a democratic council," Callista Ryan, the USC's spokesperson, told CBC News.

"Our student body should be able to decide if those privileges should be granted to non-USC groups." 

The move comes after criticism from other students about the relationship USC has with frats, accusing the council of promoting fraternities and sororities.

This scrutiny follows the events of this year's Orientation Week in September.

"We never had a formal relationship with Greek Life, it was all informal privileges that were granted through the years that we finally found time to address and assess as a council," said Ryan.

Inappropriate to promote recruitment for these groups

The decision got nods of appreciation from other council members.

Adam Miller, who represents the Ivey Business School on the USC, said he firmly believes that Greek Life shouldn't get special privileges. He said that several constituents have complained to him that they felt USC is promoting fraternities and sororities. 

"There's a perception that Greek Life are oftentimes involved in rape culture, and pressuring people to drink alcohol in settings that they don't want to, and people have had very personal experiences that were negative with that," said Miller. "So they didn't feel that it was appropriate for USC to be promoting recruitment for these organizations."

Frats and sororities enjoyed special privileges that other groups didn't. Other clubs and groups must submit a budget and adhere to a set of policies in order to get benefits from the USC. 

"I'm very happy about the direction council went in," added Miller.

"When councillors are listening to their constituents, it was pretty overwhelming that students at Western didn't believe Greek Life should have those special privileges."

Eighty-three per cent of members voted in favour of removing Greek Life's privilege to book rooms. Seventy-six per cent voted to end USC's support of rush week recruitment. Greek Life members will continue to hold their resource seats and be allowed to sit in council meetings. 

The council will also give $10,000 to frat and sorority leaders to tackle sexual and gender-based violence and suicide prevention training.

"We know that this is a need and want with students on campus and within the Greek community, and our foundation was able to provide that funding," said Ryan.

Next semester, Greek Life leaders will report feedback on the violence training.