Melissa Shivers discusses 2020 fraternity/sorority life plan, greek tier system

Changes are coming for greek life and other aspects of the student experience, VP for Student Life Melissa Shivers says.


DI Staff

Shivers: When I asked are we ready, are you doing OK, are you ready for break? And the answer was absolutely. And I certainly feel the same way, and I recognize that we’ve had a busy semester this fall.

As the students are preparing to round out the semester, I know times are busy preparing for finals and writing papers, but I also just want to encourage folks during this time to take good care of themselves. And to think a lot about using the resources, all of the resources, that are here on campus.

I talked about this a bit in my UI What’s Up that went out earlier this week of all the different ways that students can use resources for self-care. Because I know that this time of year can get very stressful, yet we know that it’s important to care for yourself, otherwise you won’t be able to be as successful in the classroom as we want for you to be.

So for me, that’s a really important message and for you all to know that I’m cheering for you and supporting you and certainly recognize that you all are capable and quite talented and able to get things done. Yet, at the same time we can’t always continue to go at the super rapid, fast pace that we typically would be able to do with all of the deadlines and what’s required for final exams. So study hard, study well, and also take care of yourself. That’s my plug.

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DI: You’ve had a group working on the 2020 fraternity/sorority plan this semester. Can you share how those efforts are coming along?

Shivers: You know that’s a really good question, Dr. [Bill] Nelson and I had an opportunity to connect about a week or so ago, and I asked him, sort of what did he feel like we were, where did he feel like we were in terms of progress. It sounds like the group is making really good progress … Just to make sure as he said, they’ve tightened everything up and have a good plan to look forward, but it sounds as if we’re going to be close to the timeline. I have not asked him for any specific details because I didn’t want to jump into the weeds. At this point, it will still be preliminary, but I look forward to getting the report [by the end of 2018].

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DI: Last month, another fraternity was suspended but for hazing allegations. Has that prompted any larger look at the issue of hazing in the system?

Shivers: Well, I think one of the big parts of the strategic plan, I asked for us to look at the ways we address the issues of violation of the Code of Student Life, and to make sure that we are being attentive to those. I imagine that the committee will continue to take the particular issue, along with many others, into consideration.

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DI: Recently, Betsy DeVos proposed new guidelines that, if implemented, would affect sexual assault and how that is handled on campuses. What are your thoughts on that and how that might affect the implementation of the anti-violence plan?

Shivers: Well as you all know we’re very fortunate to have Monique DiCarlo on our campus. Monique has provided unique and unwavering leadership to us as we continue to review what has been proposed by Betsy DeVos, and I know that we will spend some time reviewing what’s been proposed and then work hard to make sure that what we’re doing at Iowa is certainly in alignment, but also making sure we keep our students and the needs of our students first. But, I don’t really want to comment in terms of what we will actually do, until we have an opportunity to fully review, after I think we have 60 days, there’s a 60 period that we have an opportunity to provide content. I’m sure that Monique will help us in that direction.

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DI: I don’t know if this has also come to you yet, but this is the first semester with the Opt In LLC model, and there are further changes being made to the LLC system.

Shivers: … I know that we continue to look at the LLCs, and certainly students have proposed different LLCs, additional LLCs, for consideration but I’m unsure about sort of what the status of those requests are or even quite frankly, what we have gleaned from making those significant changes and I think this will be, really, the first full year that we’ll have made the changes in terms of reducing the number of LLCs and having more focused energy in those areas.

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Shivers: I think one of the things that I would share with you all is the University of Iowa is doing some really incredible work. We’re also very fortunate to work for and with President Harreld, who is supportive of us looking at the institution and recommending and making informed decisions that really help to enhance the student experience. Because I’ve been here almost 16 months; I’ve had the good fortune of being on the working alongside President Harreld. So as issues come up on our campus, I think it’s just important to trust the leadership but also to continue to do what we’re doing right now, which is having conversation and you all being able to ask us questions of myself and President Harreld. We value this relationship and certainly really appreciate the opportunities that you provide for us to be able to respond to issues of concern and know that we will do our best to address those. It’s great to work in connection and support of one another, but also being transparent and sharing with you all what you need in order to make sure you’re able to effectively communicate to your constituents. And that’s the role of a student newspaper, so I would just like to encourage you to just continue to engage in these sorts of ways.

I think it works well for the institution and certainly for what you all are trying to do when you can come and ask questions that have thoughts or ideas about and for us to have an opportunity to respond is very much appreciated.