The Villanova University Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) is continuing the IFC, MGC and Panhellenic community wide Social Moratorium for the Spring 2021 semester with revised accountability measures outlined below.
After several conversations with staff and student leaders, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life determined this accountability plan is the best way to support the health and safety of our students and Villanova community members. In the spirit of the CARITAS Commitment, it is everyone’s responsibility to put our Community First and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will communicate with each IFC, MGC and Panhellenic organization to ensure there is a community wide understanding of these guidelines. We also encourage each organization to update their risk management plans to include peer accountability structures and the CARITAS Commitment.
A Chapter’s failure to comply with both University health and safety directives and OFSL guidelines will result in chapter sanctions determined by OFSL.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life with questions, concerns, or requests for additional support at OFSL@villanova.edu.
Policies and Guidelines for On-Campus Activities
On-Campus organizational activities can be held this semester (Spring 2021) in a limited capacity and with all COVID best practices implemented.
Academic Space- can be utilized and reserved as per usual using the Classroom Reservation portal allowing 15 minutes before and after academic classes to permit for adequate transition time. Students may reserve space in academic buildings beginning, February 8, 2021. While in academic space conducting chapter business, masks must be worn, members must be socially distant and the maximum capacity in each room (indicated on the reservation portal) cannot be exceeded.
Student Event Space- can be utilized and reserved in the Spring 2021 semester in a limited capacity. Students looking to reserve space on behalf of their organization must attend a training offered by Student Involvement before they gain access to the reservation portal. Once the training is completed, that individual student will gain access to reserving space. Students may reserve spaces using the VUGroups Portal to submit their request and confirm their event plans. For more detailed information, reach out to the OFSL department. While in student event space conducting chapter business, masks must be worn, members must be socially distant and the maximum capacity in each room (indicated on VU Groups and in the space) cannot be exceeded.
Policies and Guidelines for Off-Campus Activities
When off-campus, students and chapters hold a substantial responsibility for preserving the health and safety of both the larger community and the on-campus University community. Therefore, the University health and safety guidelines, as well as all OFSL rules and regulations, apply to all students and chapters both on and off the campus. All University and government-issued health and safety guidelines, including but not limited to the University’s policies on masks, social distancing and gatherings, must be followed at all times while off-campus in the local community. This includes at off-campus houses, apartments, local establishments, and all other public and private spaces. Students and chapters who fail to comply will be held accountable by the University.
Specifically regarding gatherings, and as outlined in the University's health and safety guidelines, all gatherings must be limited and controlled, such that they are proportionate (in size and scope) to the gathering space and never more than 20 people, in order to allow for consistent social distancing of those present, whether inside or outside, and whether on or off campus. Masks must be worn if individuals other than a student’s roommate(s)/household are present.
The ability to social distance in a gathering space and the use of face coverings are conditions that must be met at all times. The maximum number of 20 people, even if the space is big enough to safely accommodate more, needs to govern all activities, and, in cases where the gathering space is too small for 20 people to safely gather, the number of people present must be lesser and proportionate to the gathering space in order to allow for consistent social distancing.
Jurisdiction and Investigation Process
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has jurisdiction over chapters who violate the office’s Accountability Plan or University policies. If an individual student(s) is involved in a potential violation, the case may be referred to the Dean of Students for individual student accountability. If one or more members from a Chapter are involved in an alleged violation, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has the right to investigate whether or not the offense is chapter-related.
The investigator(s) handling the case, typically staff members from the Fraternity and Sorority Life office and/or the Division of Student Life will collect information about the alleged violation from any incident reports or complaints, witnesses, and/or the students/chapters involved. Students and chapters are expected to fully comply with OFSL during the investigation. All reasonable efforts will be made to honor anonymity in accountability processes. Other offices and constituents, including inter/national headquarters, may be notified of the matter.
After investigation, and at the University’s discretion, a chapter may be found responsible for violations committed by one or more individual students under appropriate circumstances including, but not limited to any of the following:
When the violation reasonably appears related to an activity of the organization, where sponsorship by the student organization was either official or reasonably implied;
When organizational members (including new and uninitiated members), leaders, and/or alumni enable, endorse, or encourage the conduct that led to the violation, or reasonably should have known that the conduct would occur and failed to take preventive or corrective action;
When the violation occurs on property leased, rented, owned, or otherwise controlled by the organization and/or members or alumni of the organization;
When organizational funds are used to finance the activity which resulted in the violation, and/or if members or alumni contribute personal funds in lieu of organizational funds;
When the student organization attempts to conceal or withhold information regarding the misconduct of individual students.
Accountability Process and Procedures**
After investigation, if it is determined by OFSL that a chapter may have violated University or OFSL policies or guidelines, the chapter will be referred to an Organizational Conduct Review Officer (typically a staff member within OFSL or the Division of Student Life), and subsequently may be charged with and notified of the alleged violation(s). At all phases of the accountability process, the chapter will be represented by the current president of the organization or appropriate designee.
During the meeting with the Organizational Conduct Review Officer, they will explain the rights and options available as well as describe potential sanctions for the alleged violation in question. Chapters suspected of a violation that accept responsibility for the violation(s) as documented will be sanctioned accordingly by the Organizational Conduct Review Officer and receive notice of the sanction(s) imposed. Chapters that accept responsibility do not waive their right to appeal for review of the sanction as outlined in this Accountability Plan.
When a chapter suspected of a violation denies responsibility or the facts of a specific incident are in question, the chapter may elect to have the matter reviewed by the Organizational Conduct Review Officer. At their discretion, the Organizational Conduct Review Officer will review the matter in a manner chosen by the Organizational Conduct Review Officer that will endeavor to ensure basic fairness to all involved. After review, the Organizational Conduct Review Officer will, using a preponderance of the evidence standard, determine if there is responsibility for the alleged violations. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will also consider what may have been intended before proceeding with an investigation.
The Organizational Conduct Review Officer may determine in their discretion that due to the seriousness of the potential sanctions, or the nature or complexity of the facts of the case, it would be beneficial to have the matter reviewed by a hearing panel composed of three faculty/staff members who will review relevant evidence and statements and, using a preponderance of the evidence standard, determine if there is responsibility for the alleged violations.
When a chapter has accepted or been found responsible for violation(s), the Organizational Conduct Review Officer will determine the appropriate chapter sanctions and outcomes, using the following guidelines.
1. The nature and severity of the alleged violation(s);
a. Flagrancy, premeditation, scope in relation to the chapter, and extent of the harm done to individuals, the chapter or the community
2. The prior record of the chapter; and
3. The attitude or response of the chapter and its officers.
a. Internal response of the chapter
b. Truthfulness and demeanor during the investigation
Chapter Rights and Responsibilities
1. All chapters have the following rights:
a. The right to a timely accountability process;
b. The right to notice of charges;
d. The right to present relevant evidence and statements before the appropriate authority;
e. The right to a timely notification of the results of the accountability process;
f. The right to a decision based on a preponderance of the evidence standard
g. The right to appeal as outlined in this Plan.
2. Emphasis should be placed not only on the Chapter’s rights, but also on its responsibilities:
a. Cooperate with all University officials;
b. Respond to all inquiries and questions with complete honesty;
c. Meet timelines set;
d. Become familiar with the process;
e. Act in accordance with all procedures.
i. Should a chapter choose not to cooperate, with the understanding that accountability may be imposed with or without such participation.
Appeals will be heard by the Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, or designee. Appeals must be in writing and submitted no later than ten (10) business days following the date the chapter was notified of the outcome of the process.
The grounds for appeal are as follows:
Appeal for a new review process, for the following reasons:
Procedural defect whereas basic fairness was not provided during the process
New evidence that was not reasonably available for presentation to the original authority, the introduction of which may reasonably be expected to affect the decision of the original authority.
Appeal for review of sanction
After an appeal is submitted, the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life may choose to meet with the Chapter President or appropriate Chapter representative to review the appeal. The chapter will be notified of the outcome of the appeal within 10 business days after filing. All decisions made by the Director are final, including whether or not an appeal is procedurally permitted.
**In cases where, in the University’s sole discretion, there may be an immediate health and safety concern due to an alleged violation, a chapter may be subject to interim administrative measures until such time the University can collect more information and determine an appropriate course of action. The administrative measures include, but are not limited to, a freezing of organizational budget assets, a prohibition on meetings or events, restrictions on recruiting new members, removal of leadership positions, or a mandate to cease and desist all operations. Notification of administrative measures will be sent to the chapter president and will include information regarding the alleged conduct that formed the rationale for the interim action. Failure to comply with any measures will be viewed as serious violations of University policy, and those students and/or organizations engaging in such activity will be held accountable.