FSU Fraternity Death Puts Light on UA Greek Life

By Kayla Nunez
The Razorback Reporter

Florida State University became the third major campus this year to record a student death involving a Greek-letter organization. That prompted the FSU administration on Nov. 6 to suspend indefinitely all 55 of its sororities and fraternities after a Pi Kappa Phi pledge died after a weekend party, according to an FSU announcement.
The incident, on the heels of similar ones at Pennsylvania State University and Louisiana State University, has once again revised the question of hazing – a national topic of discussion – on campuses across the country.
A freshman Phi Delta Theta pledge at LSU died in what was described as a potential hazing incident in September and a Beta Theta Pi pledge at Penn State died in a hazing incident in February.
LSU formally suspended Phi Delta Theta and indefinitely suspended all Greek activities.
Parice Bowser, director of UA Greek Life, said that if a similar circumstance happened, an investigation and disciplinary procedures would follow.
“It’s my prayer that the University of Arkansas does not ever experience such a loss,” Bowser said.
The UofA has zero tolerance for hazing among its 35 Greek-letter organizations.
Mark Rushing, UA assistant vice chancellor for university relations, reiterated the university’s stance on hazing.
“The safety of our students is a top priority and the university strongly opposes any form of hazing,” Rushing said.
UA policy also is supported by Arkansas state law.
“Any requirement imposed upon prospective, new or current members which is not related to the organization’s purpose is prohibited and will become the subject of a University investigation once the practice is brought to the attention of the Office of Greek Life,” according to the UA anti-hazing policy.
In the case of any hazing allegations, the university would take a look at the case and then the police might get involved, depending on the severity of the situation.
There have been some reported allegations of hazing in the past at the UofA, including as recently as January of 2016.
As of March 31, 2016 four reports of hazing were filed and 10 fraternity violations of Greek Life conduct rules since 2013, according to a report from the Office of Student Standards and Conduct.
Some examples of hazing are making new members be silent for a certain amount of time, requiring physical exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups, and making a member wear uncomfortable clothes, among others, according to the UA Greek Life website.
The website lists 19 activities that “have at one time or another been identified as hazing by courts and/or institutions of higher education.”

Greek Life has many programs throughout the year that educate members on hazing prevention, said Danica Ridgeway, Panhellenic President.
UA Greek Life participated in National Hazing Prevention Week in September and Ridgeway said the UofA has been participating in the event for years.
Fraternities and sororities also participated in an educational program in September called These Hands Don’t Haze. The program focused on hazing awareness and prevention and how students should report hazing concerns.
“Hazing is prohibited under Greek Life policies and by the Code of Student Life,” Rushing said.



Arkansas State Police release draft on campus carry license

By Chase Reavis

The Razorback Reporter

Those who want to carry a handgun on Arkansas campuses must be able to shoot straight, hang onto their weapon and defend themselves, according to the state police preliminary draft of training procedures.

The Arkansas State Police Department released the first version of required training procedures necessary for licensed weapons owners to get the enhanced permit that will allow concealed carry on campus sometime next year. That was Oct. 11.

Arkansas State Police are taking public comment about proposed draft changes until Nov. 10, but as of Oct. 24, they had received minimal response, Bill Sadler, Arkansas State Police public information officer, said in an email.

The training program is projected to be in place within the first three months of 2018, Sadler said. The enhanced carry license will be valid for five years, according to the draft.

Enhanced carry applicants must complete eight hours of instruction proctored by training instructors across the state, according to the draft. Training will be offered at all concealed carry courses. All registered concealed carry instructors must complete an exam regarding the enhanced training license by Jan. 1, 2018. If an instructor cannot complete the exam, the instructor’s registration will be revoked, according to the draft.

In the eight-hour course, instructors must explain the rights and responsibilities of having the enhanced license as well as where carriers cannot take handguns. Applicants will undergo self-defense and weapon-retention training.

They also must score at least a 70 percent on a firing-accuracy test, which they get three tries to complete, according to the draft. A firing-accuracy test is not included in the standard concealed carry training but was added to the enhanced training program with the new revisions.

The firing-accuracy test is meant to “ensure the license applicant can safely handle and correctly fire the weapon,” Sadler said.

Instructors also will go over emergency situations, how to respond to police officers during these situations and the difference between firearm possession and storage, according to the draft.

In preparation for concealed carry on campus, UA officials have acted as panelists for three forums regarding the new law; two of them have been on campus. One was at a Faculty Senate meeting Oct. 26 in Old Main.

Faculty members asked about their own safety as well as the safety of UA students on campus once the training program is implemented.

UA professor Bill McComas told the panel he felt very unsafe that students in his class could have handguns.

“I don’t quite understand how I can do my job if I feel unsafe,” McComas said.

At the forum and at the two before it, UA professors asked panelists whether they are allowed to ask students not to carry concealed handguns in their classrooms or into their offices. At the first two forums, panelists did not have an answer.

Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of University Relations, answered the question at the Faculty Senate meeting.

“You can state your preference as to whether you would like firearms to be allowed in your area or your office or classroom or not, but you cannot prohibit them,” Rushing said.

UA junior Trystan Spears plans to get an enhanced carry permit after he turns 21 years old in January, but even then, he wants to respect his professors’ wishes about when to carry a gun.

“If I am going into someone’s home, I respect their wishes,” Spears said.

If Spears completes the training program and receives the enhanced carry license, he plans on keeping his handgun in his vehicle more often than on his person, he said.

Spears keeps all sorts of tools in his vehicle, and his handgun will be “another tool in my toolbox,” he said.

Licensees are allowed to store their handguns on or about their person and in their vehicles, according to the draft.

After Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the law earlier this year, Arkansas State Police began drafting rules.

The bill was opposed by UA Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. He released a statement Jan. 23, saying the proposal threatened campus safety and the retention of students, faculty and staff.

UA Police Department officials would not comment on the draft because it is not a finalized training program, UAPD Capt. Matt Mills said in an email.

Mills had not suggested changes to Arkansas State Police as of Oct. 30, he said.

U of A offering in-state tuition to Puerto Rican students after Maria

By Taylor Klusman

The Razorback Reporter

The UofA was one of at least 12 universities and two campus systems across the US to offer in-state tuition to academically qualified students affected by Hurricane Maria. UA officials decided to extend this offer for the Spring 2018, Summer 2018 and Fall 2018 semesters.

When the university made a similar motion to students in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, they had 66 students take them up on their offer, 14 of whom ended up graduating from the UofA.

“Transferring may prove difficult for some students who are currently enrolled in a university program in Puerto Rico because they don’t know now when their semester is going to end,” UofA Media Relations Manager Steve Voorhies said. “One student has said that she may not be able to start school here because her current semester will likely still be going into our spring semester.”

UofA officials are unsure of how many storm-struck students will take advantage of their offer at this time.

“About 10 have contacted us to ask for more information so far,” Voorhies said. “Other schools are making similar offers, so it is very hard to predict.”

Comparatively, 667 hurricane-affected students from the Caribbean, mainly Puerto Rico, have already signed up at Florida International University, also offering in-state tuition, for the spring semester.

“We don’t expect any to be incoming freshmen – this is aimed more at undergrads and grad students who are already enrolled in Puerto Rican institutions that have been damaged,” Voorhies said.

Alvin Lopez, award winning song-writer and Latino performer, was originally from Puerto Rico himself and believes the university to be a trend-setter in their actions of helping others.

“It’s a matter of getting the word out,” Lopez said. “The reality is there has been an influx of Puerto Ricans into the area already, even getting the word out to the Puerto Ricans in the area right now so that they hear what the university is doing, it could be an incentive for them to send their kids here to go to college.”

The admittance of these students at the UofA following the natural disaster almost a decade ago did not have a financial impact on the university, Voorhies said.

The UofA’s offer of in-state tuition, which adds up to $9,062 a year, could assist students affected by Hurricane Maria in their continuation of college, Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz said.

“For me, it would be a perfect opportunity to connect with the people that are here,” Lopez said. “It’s awesome that you’re doing this for Puerto Ricans but we’re across the ocean and there are people in our backyard that also need help that we could be doing something for.”

There are around 2,500 Puerto Ricans in Northwest Arkansas that have been here before the disaster of Hurricane Maria, Lopez said.

“There are children who have lived here for their whole lives and need the same kind of support, kids who are so amazing with big brains that could be great students at the university of Arkansas,” Lopez said.