A record-breaking 217 people attended the IU Student Government Congress meeting Monday night where Congress members unanimously passed legislation encouraging increased sexual assault training among greek organizations with a vote of 43-0.
Madison Smith, IUSG Student Life Committee Chair and member of Alpha Delta Pi, wrote Proclamation 112 after personally experiencing sexual assault in the greek community. Her experiences resonated with many members of greek organizations who joined the meeting to express their approval of the proclamation. Members representing 17 of the 22 Panhellenic sororities at IU sent messages of support in the Zoom chat, despite IU Interfraternal Council concerns about the proclamation.
The proclamation calls upon the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council to expand sexual assault prevention and awareness programming.
“Currently all greek organizations do have to go through mandatory trainings through the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, and in all of them sexual assault is a side note,” Smith said. “We know that it isn’t a side note in our community, it’s a really serious issue that a huge number of students go through.”
Thomas Nardicchio, president of the Interfraternity Council, voiced IFC’s concerns over the fact the proclamation suggested the greek councils alter their bylaws to reflect the more rigorous sexual assault training. IFC did not want to set a precedent of allowing IUSG to change other organizations’ bylaws, Nardicchio said.
Smith said the bill strongly suggests the greek councils amend their bylaws, but cannot mandate any changes. She said she contacted the greek councils while developing the proclamation and felt blindsided that IFC raised concerns the day of the vote.
Nardicchio faced harsh backlash from Congress members after stating IFC’s reluctance to change their bylaws.
Former greek organization member and Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Brian Hancock spoke directly to Nardicchio, saying they both know current OSFL sexual assault programming is not sufficient.
“We would have loved to hear from IFC on plenty of other things the past couple semesters, and I just find it just so convenient that the only time it comes to care about student government is when you're coming to speak against trainings regarding sexual assault,” Hancock said.
The proclamation’s co-authors Kaitlin Scott and Nathan Ryder said IFC’s objections were unfounded. Scott said the proclamation does not contradict IFC bylaws because the Congress committee referenced the bylaws while drafting the proclamation. Ryder said he felt uncomfortable with IFC speaking on behalf of other greek councils regarding sexual assault.
“Frankly this bill is not for you, it is about you,” Ryder said.
Nardicchio clarified that IFC agreed with additional sexual assault prevention programming and only took issue with altering their bylaws.
“I have zero problems with putting this program into action, I have zero problems with working together with student government,” Nardicchio said. “The only issue that I want to raise concern to was the piece of legislation that says to amend the bylaws.”
The suggestion to alter the greek councils’ bylaws only entered the bill after consulting IU’s Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy, Smith said. Smith said OSVPVA hoped adjusting bylaws to reflect the more rigorous sexual assault prevention programming could help uphold the proclamation for years to come.
“We can ensure that in the future for years and years to come we will be addressing this problem within our community,” Smith said.
By the end of the meeting, Smith was emotional, and the Zoom chat filled with sorority women praising her strength and expressing their gratitude for the proclamation. She regained her composure to thank everyone for their support.
“I started drafting and working on this bill in the aftermath of my assault and trying to find a way to make sure that what happened to me does not happen to another woman … that it doesn’t happen to my little, or to any other girl, has been really, incredibly healing in the wake of by far the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Smith said.