This week in Villanova history… January 26, 1996

By Sean KellyStaff Reporter ’96

Dean of Students, the Rev. John P. Stack, O.S.A., and other members of his office met Jan. 16 with presidents from each of the 14 fraternities on campus to announce the cancellation of rush for the spring semester. All fraternities were also placed on probation for the remainder of the academic year with an educational requirement that has not yet been determined. The sanctions are the result of demeaning comments made by the former Interfraternity Council (IFC) Rush chairperson. The fraternities made an appeal Tuesday, but a final decision on the case was not made until after publication.

According to separate reports given by two resident assistants from different male dormitories on South Campus, the former IFC rush chairperson made remarks during two different seminars which they believed were highly demeaning towards women. These comments were used to explain why Villanova males join fraternities. The original purpose of the forum was to inform freshmen males about fraternity life and the Greek system at the University. Members of various fraternities who were also attending made no effort to clean up the remarks.

Stephen Pugliese, assistant to the Dean of Students, wrote the sanctions after considering many of the other incidents involving fraternities that have been reported n the last two years. “It wasn’t just this individual incident,” said Pugilese. “This incident was the main focus, but what I was doing was looking at fraternities throughout the past couple of years. I didn’t look at any individual fraternity. I determined that since the IFC Rush chairperson was there and that’s the collective organization of fraternities, the whole system should be penalized,” said Pugliese.

According to Stack, the incident was very serious to require sanctions that would get the attention of every fraternity. “If nothing else had happened, say we were in a vacuum and all of the sudden this happens, this is serious enough in itself,” said Stack. “It’s the kind of statement that plays into the stereotypes that people have about fraternities.”

Pugliese insists that the sanctions are fair. “I do think that they’re being cut a huge break,” he said. “My sanction is giving them one last shot to get their act together and to prove themselves as strong organizations here on campus.”

But fraternity presidents are concerned that the cancellation of spring Rush will be detrimental to younger and smaller chapters who need new members for financial reasons and to prevent drastically low numbers after graduation.

Villanova chapter presidents also question whether the sanctions will solve any of the attitude problems in Greek Life. “They want the attitudes to be revamped,” said Ken Matthews, Phi Sigma Kappa president. They can cancel Rush for a semester, but that won’t change the attitudes of people. That’s why in our appeal we suggested an annual process to change the attitudes that are damaging the character of all members in the Greek system,” Matthews said.

The appeal, signed by all 14 fraternities and only a few sororities, was given to Stack and Pugliese who met with fraternity presidents again last night to give their final decision.

The emphasis on the part of the fraternities is to hear that they can’t Rush because it sounds punitive to them,” said Stack. “What they’re not hearing is that we really want them to get their acts together – they’re not hearing that. What I would like to do is have them see their semester as a time for you and your group to sit back and say, ‘What’s our purpose here’ and have some reflection about some of these issues. The programs that we have to educate them on these issues would not be taken seriously if we let them have Rush,” Stack said.

According to Pugliese, “I think they should take this opportunity not to look at it as if we’re trying to kill the fraternity system. We’re not trying to do that. We’re trying to give the fraternity system another chance to take some time, reflect on their purpose, become stronger and become more effective in the community here,” said Pugliese.