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Petition gaining steam against UBC frats hosting in-person rush events amid pandemic

UBC frat houses permitted to host in-person rush or recruitment events this fall
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A UBC student created a petition this week to try and stop frats from hosting in-person rush events. Photo: Rob Kruyt/Business in Vancouver

A self-identified “concerned student” from the University of British Columbia has generated a petition in an effort to stop fraternities from hosting in-person rush events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition – which claimed “UBC sororities are holding a virtual rush, the fraternities should be doing the same” – has been signed more than 930 times.

Coined as “rush,” is a long-standing tradition of fall recruiting events where new and potential frat members become acquainted with Greek Life in off-campus fraternity houses.

Director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey said the houses are owned and operated by individual fraternities through long-term leases and “are entirely independent of UBC.”

“UBC has no role in their management,” Ramsey confirmed. Instead, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) – led by UBC student leaders – is the governing body of the 10 fraternity chapters associated with the university.

Fraternities have been permitted to host in-person rush events this year, but only if events are capped at 50 people and held in backyards of respective houses.

Though masks are encouraged by the IFC – especially when physical distancing is not possible – they have not been required at rush events, according to this year’s recruitment policy.

“All chapters choosing to recruit in-person will be responsible for planning and holding their own recruitment events,” the IFC policy states.

“IFC will hold no sanction over these independent events and will limit it[s] oversight to ensuring that all applicable health and safety standards are followed.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Although frats are held to the same provincial health standards as all other UBC students in and around campus, added Ramsey.

The director confirmed that “UBC works with all students and student groups to provide them with information on provincial guidelines in relation to events.”

This includes recruits having to maintain a distance of two metres from others during rush events and that no more than six people sit at the same table, among other UBC health and safety regulations.

The university has also been providing frat houses with face masks, hand sanitizer, house-cleaning supplies, and social distancing markers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The founder of the petition stressed, “there is no way they will be able to maintain social distancing guidelines throughout this process.”

Other responses from students who signed it include remarks such as: “The beer pong can wait. People are dying,” as well a plea from a concerned on-campus resident.

“I am living on campus because I have in-person components to my degree. Why should fraternities be able to gather in big groups while I’m sitting in my room and ensuring that I keep my friend group small?”

“I’m doing my part, why can’t they do theirs?” The student questioned.