IFC and AMS sign new Memorandum of Understanding

The AMS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) last Wednesday, four years after the student society removed the frats’ status as an AMS club.

Every year, first year students and partygoers gather in Greek Village during Jumpstart for frat parties. Though no longer an AMS club, fraternities attract mass attention on social media and through word of mouth in first-year residences.

The AMS deconstituted the IFC in 2019 after a review found it was non-compliant with AMS code. The violations in code included restricting its members to male-identifying individuals, unauthorized collection of membership fees and the fact that it “routinely” allows the use of controlled substances in violation of its own constitution.

In an announcement on the signing of the MOU, AMS President Esmé Decker said the fraternities enrich student life on campus and emphasized the timeliness of this conversation. She also cited her executive goal of “connecting across communities and making sure that students are connected with services” as another reason for the MOU.

The MOU has been in the works for the last three years, predating the pandemic, according to Decker.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, IFC President Ferdinand Rother said he was excited for a “new AMS president who [is] willing to take it up again ... and finally complete the work.”

According to Will Millar, the IFC’s VP Recruitment and Public Relations, much has changed within the frats, noting that after COVID-19 members are “a lot more academic” than before. Rother said he appreciates the current AMS administration for seeing the fraternities as “members of the greater university community.”

The decision to revisit the MOU comes amid an ongoing partnership between the IFC and AMS Student Services to promote Safewalk. Rother said Safewalk also operated a shuttle station outside the village during Jumpstart this year for the first time in many years.

Rother hopes rising ridership will encourage AMS to “increase their budgetary support [towards Safewalk] and get more resources” in the upcoming fiscal cycle as this would be “valuable to everyone.”

Shuttle buses currently run two scheduled rides a night but additional vehicles are also available upon request. This has been crucial to getting intoxicated students home safely after UBC reduced residence commonsblock hours. Decker also hopes to expand Safewalk’s extended services to social groups like the Calendar.

The MOU now provides access to direct training from the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Office (SVPRO) for all fraternity members. Millar acknowledged the importance of this provision and said he plans to use the funds IFC had left in their pre-existing club account for initiatives to promote safety and risk management. Meanwhile, Decker said she expects future collaborations in the near future between AMS’ VP Administration with IFC’s VP Health and Safety, Enzo Passarini.

Along with signing an MOU with the IFC Decker said the AMS is engaged in ongoing agreements with Panhellenic Council, who oversee the sororities on campus.

As the post-secondary institution with the largest Greek life in Canada, Decker recognizes that “students in these groups are also important stakeholders [and] there’s a lot of them.”