The University at Buffalo released new guidelines being implemented this school year for Greek life on UB campuses.
This follows a four-month review conducted by a UB committee following the death of 18-year-old Sebastian Serafin-Bazan last April. He died at an off-campus fraternity house in Buffalo after what was reported as a potential hazing incident involving the fraternity Sigma Pi. Days following his death UB suspended all Greek Life activity as the incident was investigated.
The committee’s report provides proactive and prudent steps the university and its Greek organizations will take in order to reduce the incidents of hazing and to promote greater accountability among students and the Greek organizations themselves.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi ordered the formation of the committee in April following the death Serafin-Bazan.
The suspension of Greek Life on campus has been lifted except for Sigma Pi and the committee has issued four general and 14 specific recommendations which are "designed to improve university oversight and education," and "increase the responsibility within these organizations for self-monitoring."
UB's vice president of Student Life Scott Weber met with reporters Wednesday to outline and answer questions about the recommendations. One calls for a clear definition of hazing, which is illegal.
"That students are reluctant to report hazing both in and out of organizations. That continues to be one of the challenges that universities and other organizations face," Weber remarked.
UB will not say if this case was hazing as the Buffalo Police Department continues it's investigation. 7 Eyewitness News asked Weber for comments on a neighbor's video showing other students carrying Bazan out onto the lawn that night last April, however, he once again said he couldn't respond, but offered this comment.
"That the type of behavior you are describing has not been unique and I think one of the things that we need to do to challenge our students is that in the spirit of all humanity and dignity that they have a responsibly to be protectors of their fellow students and their fellow students and their fellow students health and well being," explained Weber.
Another new recommendation calls for students to follow a "good Samaritan" policy. UB also wants to develop annual scorecards for fraternities and sororities.
"But do I expect, after today, that we'll never have another incident - no – I don't expect that," declared Weber.
UB has lifted a bar against all Greek life that was put into place after the student's death, but Sigma Pi will remain suspended until the Buffalo Police investigation is complete.
"Our best watchdogs are our students and we have heard in the last week that there is a concern of Sigma Pi and continuing activities– we plan again, as I said earlier, to fully and vigorously to investigate that and to bring all possible charges we can," Weber stated.
Other recommendations would bar freshmen from joining a Greek fraternity in their first semester and limiting the number of pledge periods to a maximum of six weeks.
UB students were already returning to campuses Wednesday with the first day of the fall semester set to begin Monday.
7 Eyewitness News checked in with Buffalo Police and they say the investigation is not complete.
The recommendations in the report are as follows:
- VP for student life establish an implementation team comprised of faculty, staff and students.
- Empower the leadership of Inter-Greek Council.
- Following two years of full implementation of recommendations, the University conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of the recommendations as detterents to hazing.
- Following two years of full implementation of recommendations, Office of Greek Life conduct a student satisfaction survey to determine how new policies have impacted students.
- Develop an annual fraternity and sorority scorecard.
- Develop a consistent, specific and operational definition of hazing.
- Expand the University’s current Good Samaritan policy to apply beyond drug and alcohol use and to encompass good faith reporting of hazing.
- Develop a coherent policy regarding off-campus housing that will enable University officials to better ensure the safety of students living in these environments.
- Expand the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life in order to have the capacity to oversee all aspects of Greek-letter, social, fraternal organizations to ensure greater accountability.
- Implement a small fee on Greek-letter, social, fraternal organization members to provide centralized services and programming.
- Work with school districts to provide information to students and parents before UB orientations that educate them on the distinctions between recognized and banned/unrecognized organizations.
- Enhance accountability by: requiring each organization to have its members sign a “membership contract” annually, develop a comprehensive program for chapter and member accountability and reporting, require organizations to have a “drug-free” policy for chapter events, all organizations participate in and complete compliance workshops annually.
- Create more oversight of new member recruitment.
- Regularly review current annual training and education requirements for Greek chapter members.
- Require organization chapter presidents and faculty/staff advisors to sign a pledge annually that: all on-campus social events will be registered and conducted according to applicable University and chapter policies and acknowledge that the University code of conduct applies to all on and off-campus activities.
- Maintain an active membership, presence, and involvement with the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors, while joining collective action efforts, and affiliate (if possible) with new National Center at PSU.
- Establish an annual reward and incentive system that will serve to celebrate and recognize meaningful and outstanding contributions from individuals and organizations.
- Lift the suspension of Greek Life so organizations can implement programs, training, and other accountability measures. Recruitment remain suspended until all new measure are deemed in compliance.
Read the full report here.