DePauw University flower-ins to change due to Title IX

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Traditional DePauw University flower-ins are a thing of the past. The Univeristy is taking affirmative action to change the dynamic of greek flower-ins to ensure compliance with Title IX regulations.

A work group committee led by Myrna Hernandez, assistant dean of students for campus living and community development, has recently developed in order to create an alternative for future flower-ins.

“The flower-in work group was formed in response to a survey conducted by the university, which noted the level of discomfort felt by many new members during this practice rooted in DePauw tradition,” said sophomore Ellen Tinder. “During work group meetings, representatives from every greek chapter, along with representatives from Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic, discuss the problems and possible solutions to the flower-in process.”

The work group consists of about 50 students and is divided into two sub-committees that met to discuss the changes. Junior Grace Quinn and junior Julia Roell led the sub-committees and took notes about the types of conversations students are having during their committee meetings.

The goal driven by the committee is to allow Hernandez to work with chapters in order to come up with guidelines for flower-ins that work with them both from a personality standpoint and from a logistics standpoint.

“It is a vital goal of the work group to have implemented the proposed changes to flower-ins before they take place spring semester,” said Tinder. “If these changes are not implemented, flower-ins will not continue to happen as they have in the past due to Title IX issues that the University would be held accountable for.”

Title IX is often associated with sports and athletics; however, in its entirety it applies to ten different key areas under the law, including sexual harassment.

“Colleges and universities, not even from a Title IX perspective but form a sexual assault perspective, are having stories all over the media and I think it is very prevalent out there,” said Hernandez. “This is a way we are trying to be proactive as opposed to reacting to a situation or somebody’s actual complaint.”

Due to Title IX, universities and colleges are expected to take immediate and purposeful steps towards any potentially harmful or harassing behaviors.

“In terms of where flower-ins connect with Title IX issue is in hosting an event that could be perceived or reported with having behaviors that fall into the category of sexual harassment,” said Hernandez.

It is more of the behavior that happens at flower-ins rather than the event itself.

“Introducing new member classes isn’t problematic,” said Hernandez. “The expectation that the new members are going to make out with each other is problematic.”

Because some students do feel pressured to “make-out” during a flower in, the possibility of complaints to the university and a larger investigation could arise from the flower-in tradition.

With new guidelines implemented there will not be any form of expected, or encouraged sexual behavior at flower-ins. (ie make-out).

 “We talked about what kinds of things as a community we can do to eliminate the most problematic of behaviors and still preserve what is important,” said Hernandez. “Had lots of conversation regarding tradition, introduction, and presentation about new member classes and pledge class bonding.”

Students agree that upholding tradition is valuable to their Greek organizations.

A student on the work group who has requested to stay anonymous for personal reasons said, “There really are not any intense, huge changes, which is good because I think this is such a fun tradition at DePauw. I think people will be surprised at how little is actually changing.”