According to a new study from the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA), over half of university and college risk managers feel that fraternities are among the top liability risks currently being faced by the institutions.
The URMIA surveyed its members in April in an effort to discover whether or not the recent negative stories circulating the news concerning alleged misconduct in a number of fraternities across the country had an effect on how institutions viewed the risk associated with them. A number of recent stories put fraternities at the center of alleged racism, sexual assault and underage drinking, among other things, causing a number of institutions to reevaluate the role of Greek life on their campuses.
Of the 60 responses received, four general observations were made. While about one-third of respondents said they had recently reviewed the relationship of campus fraternities, are currently conducting a review, or are considering a review, an additional third replied that they were not considering a review at this time despite the amount of negative attention fraternities are currently receiving in the news.
Two-thirds of participants said fraternity risk was one of their institution’s top liability risks, but consider the associated risks concerning reputation to be less volatile.
Each institution reported having a strategy in place for how to handle fraternity risk on campus, with the exception of one. Over half had programs concerning alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual assault, and also required insurance. However, 40% of those respondents were unsure of how effective those programs were, and about 25% felt they were not effective at all.
When asked to choose what value fraternities brought to their institutions from a list provided for them, more than 50% of respondents said they helped with alumni relations, offered community service and campus activities, and were an important part of campus tradition. Meanwhile, 19% of those surveyed said fraternities held no value to campus life.
The findings show that many public colleges and universities see fraternities as having a larger advantage than at private universities. Of those who responded, one-third of private institutions felt that fraternities held no value. Larger institutions who have an enrollment of larger than 15,000 students felt fraternities held greater value than smaller schools with enrollments of less than 5,000.
Around 75% of the universities involved in the study held a formal relationship with campus fraternities, meaning they were considered to be a “recognized student organization.”
“Overall, this has been an eye opening experience, and it appears that colleges and universities are looking at ways to strengthen not only the risk management initiatives of the institution, but also that of fraternities and sororities that operate on campus, with the knowledge and consent of the college or university. “