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North American Fraternity Leadership to Appoint Independent Panels To Study, Address Detrimental Behaviors

Commissions Will Recommend Action on Alcohol Abuse, Hazing and Sexual Assault

INDIANAPOLIS, April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) today announced it will commission independent panels to identify and recommend solutions to three of the most daunting issues facing college campuses and the fraternities they host: alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual assault.

Each panel will be comprised of 8 to 12 members drawn from the fields of higher education, public policy, public health, research, law and others. The panels will work to recommend policies, programs and standards with an eye toward eradicating detrimental behaviors too often associated with the fraternity lifestyle, according to NIC President and CEO Peter Smithhisler.

"We have reached a point where the well-being of an historic movement is at stake, and we must take decisive action to eliminate these bad behaviors," Smithhisler said. "I am counting on these panels to be frank and bold, and to help guide our organization and its members toward a future where education, community and brotherhood remain the hallmarks of the fraternity experience."

At its 2014 Annual Meeting in Atlanta over the weekend, the NIC gained its members' endorsement to create three independent commissions:

  • The NIC Presidential Commission on Alcohol will focus on conducting research and developing policies and programs aimed at addressing and creating safer patterns of alcohol use, and increasing student health and safety related to the use of alcohol and its related negative effects.
  • The NIC Presidential Commission on Hazing Awareness and Prevention will evaluate current hazing-prevention initiatives and will identify and recommend strategies to further diminish hazing of any kind among college students.
  • The NIC Presidential Commission on Sexual Assault and Abuse Prevention will assess the efficacy of current sexual abuse prevention programs and recommend new programs and policies aimed at eliminating assault and similar behaviors on college campuses.

Each commission will be established before mid-year and will have between 18 and 21 months to report back to the NIC with research findings and recommended policy and action.

"In order to protect and preserve all that is good about the fraternity movement, we must also change or eliminate that which is not," Smithhisler said. "The vast majority of fraternity members join to enhance their college experience, build lifelong friendships and do good. For example fraternity members raised more than $21 million for charity in 2013 and spent 2.8 million hours volunteering in their communities last year."

Smithhisler did not divulge the names of prospective commission members, but said he has contacted several prominent academicians, policymakers, business leaders and others who have expressed an interest in participating on a commission. The goal is to appoint the commissions by May 1, Smithhisler said.

NIC members lauded the move and said they look forward to the outcomes of the commissions.

"We owe it to the fraternity movement to address our greatest challenge," said Wynn Smiley, a member of the NIC Board of Directors. "These commissions are an important step toward taking bold and decisive action so that we can preserve the legacy of North American fraternities."

Smithhisler said the commissions are reflective of the mission of the NIC, and the work it does on its members' behalf.

"It is our obligation to create environments that are conducive to the success of member fraternities," he said. "These commissions will undertake a forward-focused, action-oriented study of issues that are critically important to both higher education and the fraternity movement."

About The North-American Interfraternity Conference
Founded in 1909, the North-American Interfraternity Conference is the trade association representing 75 International and National Men's Fraternities. The NIC serves to advocate the needs of its member fraternities through enrichment of the fraternity experience; advancement and growth of the fraternity community; and enhancement of the educational mission of the host institutions. The NIC is also committed to enhancing the benefits of fraternity membership through its relationship with Interfraternity Councils. Today, the NIC has 75 member organizations with approximately 5,500 chapters located on 800+ campuses in the United States and Canada with approximately 350,000 undergraduate members. The NIC is led by a Board of Directors comprised of nine volunteers from member fraternities. The headquarters and professional staff are located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

For More Information:
Brooke Rodriguez

SOURCE North-American Interfraternity Conference

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