Mt. Vernon Register-News

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October 16, 2013

Fraternities scuttle recruiting ban prompted by drinking deaths

(Continued)

The national group worked through students, too. Andy Farrell, who headed Cal Poly's student fraternity group in 2010, said Smithhisler took him aside and "made it clear that the [Interfraternity Conference] stand is that deferred recruitment should not exist."

National fraternities urged their Cal Poly chapters to fight the new rule, said Michael Franceschi, another student leader at the time. When students organized, the conference supplied them with research and helped edit a paper arguing against deferred recruitment.

"We'd send them drafts of each section," said Jason Colombini, then a campus fraternity leader and now student body president. "They would tell us things to look into." Colombini said he acted on his own initiative, not the Interfraternity Conference's.

Turnover at the top of Cal Poly aided the fraternity cause. Jeffrey Armstrong, who became Cal Poly's president in 2011, and Keith Humphrey, vice president for student affairs, sympathized with students' pleas, Colombini said. Unlike their predecessors, Armstrong and Humphrey had been in fraternities, and Armstrong met his wife through his membership in Alpha Gamma Rho.

In June, Cal Poly announced it would abolish deferred recruiting at its 17 fraternities. In return, fraternity members agreed to register their parties, undergo alcohol education and submit to periodic reviews. About $100,000 in higher fees from fraternity members will fund a new university position monitoring Greek life.

The university didn't bow to fraternity pressure, Humphrey said. It simply wanted fraternity and sorority recruitment on the same schedule. Deferred recruiting isn't a "silver bullet," Armstrong said.

"We're going to gain a lot more control" through the agreement with fraternity members, Armstrong said. "There will be a lot more accountability."

The Interfraternity Conference assured the university that fraternities had shown "higher alcohol awareness." Humphrey agreed, saying that students are taking alcohol safety more seriously.

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