KU fraternities meet with governing body to talk terms of freeze on activities and what’s next

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Interfraternity Council at the University of Kansas met with fraternity presidents Tuesday night to discuss a self-imposed temporary freeze.

KU made the announcement Monday in a joint statement with the IFC, which is the governing body of the 24 fraternities affected, citing “systemic behavioral issues.”

FOX 4 wasn't allowed inside the private meeting Tuesday that included members of the IFC executive board, advisors and chapter presidents.

“It’ll be the first time chapter presidents will have a chance to speak with the IFC executive board on the terms of the freeze, their opinions about the freeze and how to go forward,” said Marty Sedlacek, who is on a leave of absence as IFC president.

Sedlacek’s chapter, Beta Theta Pi, is the fourth fraternity at KU to be investigated over hazing allegations in 2018. Among the four, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was the only chapter to be found responsible for those allegations and was suspended by its national headquarters.

The freeze, which could be in place through the end of the spring semester, means chapters can’t participate in social events, such as formals or mixers, and all new member activities have been cancelled. All other activities including recruitment and philanthropic events will continue as normal, according to FAQ sheet provided by the IFC.

“This is never something you wish for your campus and not something you expect to come to your campus, so there was no precedent the Interfraternity Council at KU could go off of, and they also weren’t sure how to go about it,” Sedlacek said.

The IFC recently hired Gentry McCreary, a top-leading hazing researcher, to come to campus and investigate the fraternity culture, Sedlacek said.

“It’s a very complicated issue that I know stems from different people from both in IFC as well as chapter advisors, alumni, Dr. McCrery — the findings he had —as well as different university personnel,” Sedlacek said.

David Steen is an alumnus and current president of the Kansas Fraternity Landlords’ League. The organization includes alumni from 10 KU fraternities working together to develop the best practices for its undergraduate members.

Steen said the freeze is already having ripple effects.

“We’ve all had calls after calls, email after email, from people questioning whether they want their sons being in fraternities because of this press release that described these things as pervasive and systemic,” Steen said.

Steen, who also serves on a board for Kappa Sigma, said there is no hard evidence that the number of hazing cases are on the rise at KU but just an increasing number of investigations.

“It was very clear that there are a significant number of houses that have no suspicion of anything right now, so why should they be included in the freeze?” Steen questioned.

Sedlacek said the IFC executive board knew the freeze was coming -- but chapter presidents had no idea until the university issued a news release.

He said if the decision were to be repealed, the IFC General Assembly, which includes a delegate from each chapter, would have to vote to make it happen. Their first meeting is scheduled after spring break.

“I think the board just wanted to take the time to calm everything down, pause and look at our community and find out how to help it continue to grow and be better,” Sedlacek said.