University of Nevada, Reno fraternities and sororities have refused to sign the university’s 2019 agreement to maintain standing at the institution. An email sent today by UNR officials to the chancellor and board of regents announced that 12 Greek organizations refused to sign the agreement with UNR.
That means that about a third of UNR’s fraternities and sororities are no longer recognized by UNR, nor are they obligated to follow UNR rules.
A statement on UNR’s website said that recognition guarantees a higher degree of safety for Greeks:
…the institution is unable to hold local, unrecognized chapters accountable for misconduct or policy violations. Instead, the University is solely able to hold individual members and students accountable for Student Code of Conduct violations. Lastly, the institution is concerned that individuals that join an unrecognized fraternity or sorority will have an extremely different student experience compared to members of University-recognized organizations. Unfortunately, unrecognized fraternities and sororities are unable to participate in Homecoming or Greek Week, as well as other Fraternity and Sorority Life or University-sponsored events and activities.
UPDATE: Todd Shelton of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) fraternities issued the following statement:
Today, two North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) fraternities voluntarily rescinded their formal affiliation with University of Nevada, Reno after choosing not to sign its Relationship Agreement. In the months leading up to the deadline, the NIC, its member fraternities, chapters and students shared critical concerns about the University’s mandate to report individual conduct concerns currently mediated through peer-to-peer chapter processes.
This mandate would have a chilling effect on members holding one another accountable to their fraternal expectations and values. Instead of improving the safety and responsibility in the Reno community, it could do just the opposite. The NIC and its member fraternities spent months providing solutions to alleviate this concern and were rebuffed by the University even after offering alternatives that align with reporting requirements for hundreds of other campuses.
Our member fraternities continue to be governed by all local laws in addition to their inter/national organization’s policies. These chapters join four other fraternity chapters that made this same determination in 2018 and have continued to provide a positive fraternity experience to their members and serve the Reno community.
We value the university partnership and urge the administration to continue collaborating with their stakeholders.
The National Panhellenic Conference also issued the following statement:
For the last six months, the six National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) member organizations with chapters represented at the University of Nevada, Reno have been in communication with the University’s Fraternity and Sorority Life Office regarding its proposed Relationship Agreement for Recognition in 2019.
These agreements are commonly subject to negotiation, and our members had been working to arrive at an agreement for 2019 that could meet the needs of both the University and the sorority community.
With negotiations still outstanding on a few areas of concern, the six NPC member organizations requested an extension to the Agreement deadline in hopes of continuing discussions with the University. Unfortunately, those requests were denied. So, the sororities declined to sign the proposed Relationship Agreement for 2019. The University then declared them to be unrecognized student organizations, effective immediately.
NPC member organizations always strive to be partners to the academic institutions that are the anchors of their chapters and their members’ postsecondary experiences. In particular, NPC has previously had strong relationships with UN-Reno. The Panhellenic community has a long history (established in 1913) and continues to grow (adding two new or re-established chapters in the past five years), with many of its alumnae remaining actively involved. In response to the University’s decision to forgo negotiations toward a mutually acceptable agreement, NPC and the inter/national organizations with collegiate chapters on the campus will begin work with the six collegiate chapters to form an independent College Panhellenic Association, appoint an advisor and determine the resources needed to ensure the sorority community continues to thrive in Reno.
However, NPC and its member organizations remain hopeful that the University will re-open discussions. Our desire is to address two key concerns:• A requirement by the University that sorority chapters provide comprehensive reports on their internal conduct investigations. As independent, private organizations, NPC organizations reserve the right to set the standards governing the conduct and discipline of their members and chapters. This requirement includes a mandate for organizations to present to the University the names of members who might have been a victim of sexual assault. NPC is unaware of any other university in the country that requires this.• A restriction that prevents recognized student organizations from associating with any unrecognized student group, including those who have chosen not to seek University recognition. This is an unnecessarily punitive measure with Constitutional implications. The University has acknowledged this is a requirement for students and organizations to waive First Amendment rights.
While the organizations are prepared to form an independent association, they also stand ready and willing to partner with the UN-Reno administration and urge them to reconsider their position on these issues.
Read UNR’s announcement below:
Dear Regents and Chancellor Reilly,
In order for fraternities and sororities to exist at 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. As stated in the Fraternity and Sorority Life mission, “We foster academic, personal, and professional successes, continuously striving to improve ourselves and the community.”
As we informed you in August 2018, the University amended its Relationship Agreement for Fraternities and Sororities on campus to more accurately reflect national standards. Currently a number of fraternities and sororities have taken issue with the changes.
With this in mind, we wanted to inform you that 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) have chosen not to sign the 2019 University Relationship Agreement. It is our understanding that these sororities were told by their national headquarters and the National Panhellenic Conference not to sign.
Additionally, two new North-American Interfraternity Conference fraternities have chosen not to sign the agreement, including Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Phi. The deadline to sign the agreement was 5 p.m. Jan. 22, 2019. To no avail, the University has been working with these organizations on an agreement both parties could agree to since February 2018.
As of today, a total of 12 fraternity and sorority life organizations have chosen not to sign the agreement and are unrecognized by the University, meaning they are no longer eligible for the same opportunities or resources that the campus provides to recognized organizations. Additionally, these fraternities and sororities are not obligated to follow University of Nevada, Reno policies and regulations.
As you can imagine, a number of our students are frustrated and saddened over this matter. Many have been desperately trying to work with their national offices to allow them to sign the agreement. We continue to work with both the individual national chapters and the National Panhellenic Conference but, at this time, do not believe a resolution will take place.
The University plans to send letters to parents of members in unrecognized organizations informing them of this new development. The recent choice to separate from the University of Nevada, Reno by the National Panhellenic Council impacts more than 1,000 students.
Given student chatter on social media about this matter, The Nevada Sagebrush and Channel 4/KRNV have already requested interviews, and more media will likely follow. We will continue to keep you abreast of the situation as it develops.
CORRECTION: UNR sent a news release indicating that 24 sororities and fraternities have signed the agreement, while 12 did not. The latter number is a third of the organizations not half, as originally reported.