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Mizzou Greek Life Reforms to be Rolled Out Over Next Two Years

Nathan Lawrence

A set of changes to the rules for the University of Missouri's Greek life programs announced Thursday afternoon will be phased in over the next two-and-a-half years and cover numerous aspects of Greek life, including how reports of hazing are handled and when groups will be allowed to hold parties with alcohol.

“This really creates a healthier fraternity and sorority community,” MU Dean of Students Jeff Zeilenga told KBIA. “It has a strong emphasis on safety.”

The school began the formal evaluation of its policies after several instances of hazing, racial slurs and alcohol abuse nationally and on MU campus. In 2017, it hired Greek life advisory firm Dyad Strategies to lead the process, starting with an October 2017 evaluation of the university’s current policies.

That report, which cost the university $22,000, has itself become an object of controversy after Suzette Walden-Cole, a Florida-based campus life consultant, accused Dyad Strategies CEO Gentry McCreary — the report’s primary author — of copying some of her work from a report they completed together on the University of Southern California. McCreary issued a public apology and submitted a revised edition of his report to the university, but the pages referencing Dyad Strategies’ work on the MU site have been removed, and MU is not listed on the firm’s site as a client.

The firm suggested that the university continue to “engage external parties” to help set new policies and monitor progress, but Thursday’s policies were instead created after more than a year of work with an advisory board primarily made up of faculty, staff, alumni and students invested in the university’s current Greek life processes.

“That advisory group is really what put the recommendations forward,” Zeilenga said. “[The Dyad Strategies report] was really sort of a jumping-off point.”

Many new measures and policy changes won’t be in effect for a year or more, including a new diversity coordinator position in MU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and changes to how Greek organizations can recruit and associate new members. Mandatory diversity and inclusion education and a new program to pair interested students with fraternities and sororities were implemented last fall. The only new measure scheduled for this spring is a redesign of the layout and furniture arrangement in the MU Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life’s student workspace.

As the firm and advisory board both noted, the University of Missouri is one of only six universities in the country which allow freshmen to live in Greek housing. Dyad Strategies’ report suggested that the university should no longer permit this, but the new rules will still allow Freshmen in Greek housing — as long as they have received a 3.0 GPA or better in their previous term at high school or college.

“That changed, recognizing the University of Missouri has several fraternities that really have a good model that we wanted to preserve,” Zeilenga said.

Those freshman residency requirements won’t take effect until fall of 2021.

Nathan Lawrence is an editor, documentary filmmaker and data journalist.