Durham Interfraternity Council president says organization agrees with new university restrictions in wake of increased COVID-19 cases

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021
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The president of the Durham Interfraternity Council says he agrees with the stay-in-place order issued by the university in wake of increased COVID-19 cases.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Following the recent stay-in-place order issued by Duke University, the president of the Durham Interfraternity Council responded with a statement saying the organization agrees with the action by university officials.

The statement reads:

The Durham IFC is disappointed that some individuals within fraternities violated the expectations we established for virtual recruitment which may have contributed to an increase in cases of COVID-19 within the Duke student population. We support Duke's implementation of a shelter-in-place policy in order to curtail further spread of COVID-19 and will use our newly established judicial board to hold accountable anyone who violates the Duke Compact. We expect all Durham IFC fraternity members to follow the regulations set out by Duke. We have created a hotline through which students and others can contact the Durham IFC and inform us of any infractions of the Duke Compact or Durham laws by students suspected to be in the Durham IFC and we will subsequently report them to the University.

We had a productive conversation about our plans with Dean of Students Dr. John Blackshear and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Christopher Rossi and will maintain frequent communication with the Office of Student Affairs as we continue to mitigate future spread of COVID-19. We plan to use our platform to raise money for charitable organizations and COVID relief and coordinate with student groups to better address concerns about Greek Life, including but not limited to sexual assault and racial exclusion. We are excited to collaborate with the University and our community to prevent any more cases of COVID within Duke and Durham and make reform within the fraternity community.

The move by university officials follows a week of more than 180 positive COVID-19 cases and more than 200 students in isolation. "This stay-in-place order is the direct result of individual behavior in violation of Duke's requirements for in-person activity. These new cases are almost all linked to unsanctioned fraternity recruitment events that took place off campus," said a university official in a statement posted on Duke's website.

"I think they made the perfect move," Will Santee told ABC11. "We were thinking of instituting a similar move, actually before they were going to announce theirs. We were going to do a 14-day quarantine of everyone in IFC."

Duke students frustrated after off-campus fraternity activities lead to COVID-19 stay-in-place order

Santee said the organization's nine member universities govern themselves and a judicial board was created to help enforce sanctions among the fraternities. "If an individual student makes a poor decision to have people over and break COVID rules, we think they should be punished for that," said Santee.

In February, the Durham Interfraternity Council was formed by fraternities who disaffiliated themselves from Duke University; meaning the school has no direct governance over the Durham IFC.

Santee told ABC11 that students and others can report possible infractions of students suspected of being members of the Durham IFC or wanting to become a member to organization leadership via email at DurhamIFC@gmail.com.

"We're basically going to hand over any cases we hear about to Duke. But we're here to help them enforce the strict policies they put in place the past couple of days," said Santee.

According to Santee, the events in the most recent days that led up to the stay-in-place order were limited to "at least two or three frats."

A petition asking for 1,500 signatures that looks to sue the Durham IFC is currently being circulated.