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Newsletter > September 2016 > "“Greeks and Risk” Provides Interesting Lessons"
“Greeks and Risk” Provides Interesting Lessons
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
The URMIA Journal for 20161 carries an article entitled “Greeks and Risk: Lesson From Claims.” The article studies 162 claims received between 2010 and 2014. It highlights the fact that “claims arising from fraternity activities comprise 90% of the study and accounted for 83% of its losses.” In contrast, only ten percent of the claims arose from sorority activities. It highlights five areas which contribute the most frequent claims: sexual assault, falls, assault, hazing and vehicular accidents.
Perhaps most important are what the author, Melanie Bennett, offers as lessons learned and turns them into recommendations to colleges and universities:
1) Carefully evaluate Greek house leases;
2) Tie a Greek chapter’s recognition status to the lease;
3) Provide effective oversight of Greek parties and events;
4) Monitor Greek recruitment, pledging and initiation practices to prevent hazing;
5) Watch for exclusions in the fraternity’s general liability policy;
6) Manage the risks posed by unrecognized fraternities; and
7) Monitor and respond to problematic Greek organizations.
The article recognizes that colleges and universities “were frequently deemed sponsors of Greek activities when they … required the fraternity to register the event by submitting a form agreeing to the institution’s event policies.” It went on to note that “in the courts, colleges that required fraternities to complete event forms were commonly deemed sponsors of fraternity activities. When an injury occurred at the event, courts often found that the completed registration form was evidence that the institution assumed responsibility for supervision, even when the fraternity lied on the form or violated the institution’s rules.”
What the URMIA article does not say is that the better practice for both colleges and universities and national fraternities and sororities is to educate chapters and their members, the university’s students, on the law and best practices, establish rules, and hold the chapters and individuals to those rules by disciplining violations. That is a better practice than approving specific events in advance, and creates less likelihood that the national organization or university would be found liable.