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Say goodbye to serenades as you know them

A+view+of+Sigma+Chi+fraternity+on+1st+Street+in+Tucson.+
Jen Pimentel
A view of Sigma Chi fraternity on 1st Street in Tucson.

Fraternity serenades will now have a different look than usual to those familiar with seeing them during Monday night chapters.

Serenades are dances that each fraternity’s newest pledge class performs for sororities at their chapter meetings mid-to-late semester. The UA Panhellenic Council passed a resolution on March 22 that changes the nature of fraternity serenades from their current dancing form to their more traditional and ritual songs.

The Panhellenic Council, which was established on the UA campus in 1922, is currently comprised of 15 sorority chapters and their members.

The resolution was proposed by current Panhellenic President Allie Patberg, who was inspired after participating in the “I Will” campaign, a student-led effort to end rape culture on campus.

More:  I Will’ campaign kicks off this week to end rape culture

“I decided that it would be best if I took that knowledge and information and tried to create a positive change within our individual greek community,” Patberg said.

Patberg also said that some members had expressed concerns regarding serenades, which can often be sexual in nature, and the council and its advisors collectively decided that the serenades were not reflective of greek life’s values.

“We obviously don’t know what our members have been through, and we don’t want to create any triggering situations for anyone,” Patberg said. “Our ultimate goal is to protect the well-being of our members.”

This concern stems from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which condemns discrimination in an educational environment on the basis of sex.

The UA Title IX website states that sexual discrimination includes “sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, relationship violence (dating, domestic and intimate partner violence), gender identity, gender presentation and sexual orientation discrimination.”

Patberg assured that although there currently haven’t been any direct instances of Title IX violations regarding sorority members in relation to serenades, she does not want to take any risks.

“I think when people hear Title IX, they automatically think very serious, like assault, but it’s more just the overall culture of it,” she said. “It’s not like it’s directly engaging in sexual assault, but it’s the culture and the sexual misconduct that happens on campus.”

Jessica Kogan, a psychology sophomore and a member of the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi, has experienced the fraternity serenades firsthand during weekly chapter meetings at her house.

“Serenades have been a really fun part of my experience in a sorority,” she said. “Despite the fact that I feel the dancing and sexual tone of this activity is harmless at the UA, it isn’t at all universities, and I believe it is the responsibility of the UA Panhellenic council and the Interfraternity Council to continue the campus, country and world-wide fight against rape culture by giving serenades a more appropriate and respectful vibe.”

Patberg said that the Panhellenic Council has been in touch with the Interfraternity Council, which is the coordinating and governing board of 18 social fraternities at UA, to keep them up-to-date with the new legislation and what it means. It is up to the IFC to implement this new resolution, and it is up to the Panhellenic chapters to not allow it to happen at their facilities anymore.

Although some members might be upset to see the dancing version of serenades go, Patberg assured that the serenade tradition would not be eliminated completely.

“If anything, we don’t want to punish chapters at all,” she said. “It’s just to start that conversation and make sure they’re all aware of some of the things that we do. We always want to be improving ourselves, and I thought this was a good way to start doing that.”


Follow Leah Merrall on Twitter.


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