With an official announcement of the committee’s selection expected within a few weeks, the third finalist for new director of Greek Life, Natalie Shaak, spoke before the search committee Monday.
During her presentation, Shaak, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life at Drexel University, proposed an amnesty policy to encourage Greek members to come forward with behaviors that they think may be in violation of Binghamton University hazing policies before they face allegations or get in trouble.
“We’ll work with them to document it and then move forward to replace that activity with something else,” Shaak said. “It offers them an opportunity to ask for help, versus just adjudicating.”
She added that in instances where only certain individuals in an organization are involved in hazing, other members can report those individuals, so only those involved in hazing, rather than the organization as a whole, will be held accountable.
“I feel in general if an organization is willing to come forward before they get in trouble, I would be willing to work with them,” Shaak said. “Let’s talk about how to fix it now before somebody gets hurt or somebody gets in trouble.”
Drexel University enacted a similar policy this semester. However, Shaak admitted it is still too soon to see if the policy will be effective.
Zach Stein, president of the Interfraternity Council, supported the spirit of the amnesty policy, but doubted that Greek members could be coaxed into admitting wrongdoings before facing any allegations.
“That’s not really going to work,” Stein said. “They don’t always know what they’re doing is wrong until they get a complaint. Then she could possibly work with them to fix what was wrong.”
Jessica Iankowitz, president of the Professional Fraternity Council, said she believed the amnesty policy would be effective in some cases.
“I do believe people will come forward, I just don’t believe everyone would,” Iankowitz said.
The other Greek Life director candidates proposed amnesty policies as well, but would only allow Greek organizations to admit to violations prior to this semester free of punishment.
The search committee has narrowed their search to two candidates, Shaak and Ronald Shidemantle, the former director of fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Tech who spoke at BU on Oct. 1, according to several Greek council presidents.
Stein said the committee will probably settle on a candidate Wednesday; however the dean will also need to approve the decision, so an official announcement may not be for several weeks.
Although he acknowledged that all the candidates were qualified for the position, he said none of the candidates particularly impressed him.
“Maybe I just had unrealistic expectations, I know nobody’s going to be perfect,” Stein said. “I kind of just was hoping for a plan — how we’ll fix it, how long it would take to deal with — there’s no real way for them to know.”