The University of Lethbridge is home to three separate Greek Life organizations, two sororities and one fraternity: Kappa Beta Gamma, Alpha Iota; Delta Eta Iota, Alpha; and Kappa Sigma, Omicron Xi.
All three groups were recently de-ratified by the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU), citing growing concerns over sexual violence.
This means they are no longer supported on campus to operate in an official capacity for the academic year.
“The decision to de-ratify Greek Life organizations on campus was made by the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU) following a thorough investigative and consultative process,” a statement from the ULSU read.
“There are specific and well-articulated policies governing the responsibilities and behaviours expected of all campus clubs and it was determined through this process that Greek Life was not meeting these standards.
“The investigation into Greek Life activities was an initiative between the ULSU and the University of Lethbridge to jointly engage a third-party human resources firm. Its specific findings, out of respect for the parties who participated in the investigation, as well as per the discretion of the investigator, will remain confidential.”
The University of Lethbridge also provided Global News with a statement that governance of club activities on campus falls under the sole purview of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union, but confirmed its involvement in the joint-investigative efforts.
“The University of Lethbridge has zero tolerance for any form of sexual violence or harassment on its campuses and is committed to creating a culture of consent that is respectful, welcoming and supportive for all students.
“The University will continue to educate the campus community on its recently updated sexual violence policy, how to access available supports and guidance about the options available to survivors. It is imperative we create a community free of sexual violence that empowers all students to realize an enriching U of L experience.”
The ULSU has created a FAQ page to help answer student questions around the decision, and point them to resources for assistance.
Kristine Cassie, the chief executive officer at the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre in Lethbridge commended the decision.
“I think it speaks to the university and the students’ union on taking the matters of sexual violence seriously,” Cassie said.
“I would hope that they’re going to be spending some time to actually reflect on (how it got to) the stage that it got to, and what are those interventions that needed to happen sooner, and what else needs to be in place that we can keep it from happening again.”
According to a Statistics Canada study of post-secondary institutions, fewer than one in ten men and women reported unwanted sexual behavior or sexual assault to someone at the school.
Global News reached out to each Greek Life organization for response. Kappa Sigma provided a statement that reads:
“The Omicron-Xi Chapter of Kappa Sigma is disheartened by the University of Lethbridge Student’s Union’s decision to de-ratify all Greek Life organizations on campus for the academic year, and by the lack of due process involved.
“Kappa Sigma Fraternity chapters across Canada and North America are valued partners with their universities to promote philanthropy, community service, and positive change on numerous issues of social concern. Kappa Sigma hopes that we can continue to be a valued community partner and instrument for positive change at the University of Lethbridge.”
Kappa Sigma told Global News it will continue to operate as a community group under the international chapter, but not as a student group.
Global News reached out to Kappa Beta Gamma for comment, but it declined the offer.
Rosie Costen, co-president of the Delta Eta Iota, was shocked by the news. She said she had no knowledge of any incidents within their sorority.
“It was especially jarring because our organization has been involved in many things in the past in supporting victims of sexual violence, on campus and off campus,” Costen said.
“To hear that within Greek Life this was happening, was really just kind of disturbing.”
For co-president Selena Boutilier, this situation hits close to home.
“I’m a survivor of sexual assault, so it’s like a very tough topic for me, and it’s kind of frustrating for something like this to come to light,” they said.
“Because we obviously want to protect our sisters and want to protect the members of our community.”
Costen and Boutilier are both in their final year at the U of L and are disappointed with the suspension of club activities, but hope the action comes with a positive outcome.
“As of right now, being de-ratified means that we can’t rush or recruit for new members,” she said. “We’re still able to do our volunteer hours, which we’re excited about.”
The ULSU said it will be working with Greek Life “to enhance their policies to ensure they can provide a positive and healthy environment for Greek Life members should they choose to seek re-ratification in the future.”