| 03.24.2018

Task force to examine UI substance abuse, Greek life


University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis announced the formation of two task forces Thursday — a Substance Abuse Task Force and a Greek Life Task Force.
UI has been working on solving a variety of safety issues all year, from the “I Got Your Back” campaign to aggressive programming at new student orientation, Dean of Students Bruce Pitman said.
“We felt it was high goal programming,” he said. “With recent events we felt we need to step back and make sure we do all we can do and take a careful look at campus life.”
Pitman said the Substance Abuse Task Force will evaluate UI’s policies and programming. He said the goal is to look at other college campuses and find a program they can adopt or amend to suit UI’s needs.
“We clearly have substance abuse challenges and problems, just as most college campuses,” Pitman said. “Next door WSU has committed to their own alcohol task force for the same critical look at selves. Most college campus administrators on most college campuses will say to some degree there are substance abuse issues.”
The Substance Abuse Task Force will consist of UI student leaders, faculty and staff, and Pitman said they will also reach out to a few Moscow community members who deal with substance abuse.
He said the Greek Life Task Force will evaluate the relationship between the university and its Greek system.
“Campuses and universities have very different models in what these relationships are,” he said. “Some campuses are very restrictive and intrusive where fraternities and sororities are allowed to exist in confinement. The other extreme is where a university doesn’t acknowledge presence, doesn’t help them and frankly are not enthusiastic they exist.”
Pitman said UI has had a strong relationship with its Greek system for more than 100 years, providing support and leadership training, while recognizing that fraternities and sororities are private property.
Matt Kurz, UI Greek life adviser, said he is interested to see how the task forces develop.
“It’s going to be a great thing, too,” Kurz said.
UI Interfraternity Council President Chris Chesnut said he has been asked to be a part of the Greek Life Task Force.
“Essentially, my role is to assess the relationship between the university and Greek system,” Chesnut said. “One of things that is really positive about Greek life is there is a lot of accountability between fraternity members and the Greek community … As part of the task force, we will assess the relationship with the university and fraternities and sororities to improve accountability. It gives Greek life a chance to step back and evaluate the things going on.”
Chesnut said alcohol abuse needs evaluation, as it has recently become more of a public concern.
“Now, more than ever, is the time to react and make sure we are accountable to ourselves, but also to the university,” he said. “Substance abuse is not unique to Idaho and we are one of the more safe campuses, but there is always room for improvement. ”
Brooklyn Watts, Panhellenic Council president, is also a member of the Greek Life Task Force. She said while she is still unsure of what her role will be, she is excited for the opportunity.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the Greek system to evaluate the community and address the concerns,” Watts said.  “I hope everyone stays positive because I think it’s a good thing.”
Pitman said these issues have been a long-term growing concern for UI.
“The situation continues to be a challenge to us,” he said. “I feel now is the time to take a good critical look at ourselves and be better.”
Reporting was contributed by Chloe Rambo and Kaitlyn Krasselt.
Katy Sword can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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