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‘Hold both individuals and organizations accountable’: Panhel, some chapters respond to virus spike

<p>Duke's campus culture soon will not be the same.</p>

Duke's campus culture soon will not be the same.

Duke’s Panhellenic Association condemned violations of the University’s COVID-19 protocols and emphasized the organization’s commitment to accountability in a statement to The Chronicle on Monday evening.

The statement came a day after Duke lifted most restrictions from a week-long emergency “stay-in-place” order. University administrators ordered the lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases they said was connected to off-campus recruitment events hosted by individuals affiliated with Durham Interfraternity Council, the recently formed umbrella organization for fraternities that disaffiliated from Duke.

Durham IFC President Will Santee previously acknowledged that individuals in fraternities broke COVID-19 rules and promised new accountability measures.

Panhel wrote that the University “should hold both individuals and organizations accountable for COVID-safety violations,” but did not name Durham IFC when criticizing infractions of Duke’s community standards.

“We are also committed to holding our members accountable for safety violations, if necessary,” Panhel wrote in their statement, which the group also posted to its Instagram story early Tuesday morning.

“All ten Duke Panhellenic sorority chapters continue to uphold our values and promote community safety through virtual programming, continued education and sisterhood,” the statement reads.

Panhel President Priya Parkash, a junior who is also a university news editor for The Chronicle, said that no Panhel chapters participated in fraternity rush in an official capacity, but that “it’s hard to tell” if any individual Panhel members attended any Durham IFC recruitment events.

Durham IFC President Will Santee, a junior, said his organization has not had “much of a relationship” with Panhel since its nine member fraternities broke from Duke but that the governing body would like to collaborate more with Panhel in the future. Last fall, Panhel chapters voted to ban mixers with all-male organizations but greenlit philanthropic events with all-male groups.

Santee said he’d like to see the two umbrella organizations partner on programming such as sexual assault prevention training, racial equality efforts and other reform measures.

“We as the Durham IFC understand that Greek life functions as this binary, and we understand that we're just part of the equation,” Santee said Tuesday. “[Panhel is] a group of people who share similar values and stuff to us and really value the Greek life experience. So we do want to work with them to come up with some sort of arrangement where we can meet every couple of weeks and give each other updates.”

Duke’s chapter of Delta Gamma released its own statement to The Chronicle and on Instagram on Friday that condemned COVID-19 protocol infractions and specifically criticized Durham IFC. 

“We are frustrated and disappointed by these recent recruitment events that led to an increase in COVID cases,” the chapter wrote.  

Santee agreed with Delta Gamma’s statement, reiterating previous comments made to The Chronicle expressing frustration with individuals who broke Duke community standards. 

Duke’s Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter wrote that none of its members attended fraternity rush events and that the chapter was not aware of recruitment events affiliated with Durham IFC until administrators informed the Duke community about the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Representatives of Duke’s Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi chapters did not respond to multiple requests for comment via email regarding the campus lockdown and Durham IFC.

Representatives of Alpha Delta Pi and Zeta Tau Alpha could not be reached after emailing contacts listed on the chapters’ websites and Duke Groups pages. The two chapters voted to relinquish their charters last fall, but their respective national councils rejected their bids to disband.

The chapters’ moves to dissolve came in the wake of a movement at Duke and on campuses across the country calling for the abolition of historically white fraternities and sororities. A student-run group called Abolish Duke IFC & Panhel started an Instagram page that published anonymous testimonies about students’ negative experiences in Greek life.

Roughly 400 members disaffiliated from Greek organizations in the wake of the movement, Emilie Dye, director of student engagement and leadership, told The Chronicle in February.

Last fall, Duke made a number of changes affecting Greek organizations and other selective living groups, including shifting recruitment to sophomore year.

Editor’s notes: The author of this article is a former member of Delta Gamma at Duke. 

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