ADVOCATING FOR LEGISLATION IMPACTING FRATERNITIES & SORORITIES
A solid government relations strategy is SO central to the success of fraternities, it is one of the core five priorities (above) of the NIC 2.0 reform. Such advocacy has been critical in our past and it will be in our future.
The very existence of fraternities as men’s organizations is enabled by an exemption to Title IX, legislation that NIC Executive Vice President Jack Anson and his interfraternal colleagues lobbied President Gerald Ford for in the mid-1970s. This hallmark example of legislative involvement might seem historical, yet, the value of single-gender organizations is still questioned today. The NIC employs a government relations strategy because advocating for the fraternal experience and the rights and benefits of its members is critical.
Let’s dive deeper into the NIC 2.0 priority establishing a government relations program.
EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY PROGRAMS
The North American Interfraternity Conference has developed a government relations strategy around three key questions:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- How can we foster ownership of the effort?
- How can we align all constituents around the strategy?
The NIC’s answer includes coordination and collaboration within three distinct areas:
- LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
The NIC is dedicated to building strong relationships with interfraternal and higher education partners based on transparency, inclusion and respect. Moving forward, the government relations effort will take all partners furthering and supporting the effort—united, when possible and respectful of different views when presented.
Primary partners include:
- National Panhellenic Conference (NPC)
- Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee (FSPAC)
- Fraternal Government Relations Coalition (FGRC)
GOVERNMENT AND LEGAL AFFAIRS
With focused legislative priorities and deliberate education opportunities, NIC’s government relations efforts will build grassroots programs for students, local alumni and state officials. The participation of these constituents will transform the way thousands of people involve themselves in the NIC’s legislative priorities.
SINGLE-SEX EXPERIENCE*: Ensuring all students have self-determination rights to belong to a single-sex organization and advocating that these rights apply if an organization accepts transgender students.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Ensuring students have self-determination rights to decide when and how it is best for them to join a student organization.
DUE PROCESS PROTECTIONS: Ensuring students and our organizations are afforded basic due-process rights in campus disciplinary hearings. For example, we will always be supportive of accountability for not meeting shared expectations, but we oppose blanket actions that impact students and organizations who are following the rules.
TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFTS FOR CHAPTER HOUSES (CHIA): Ensuring college affordability and safe living environments by allowing alumni to donate tax-deductible gifts to house corporations just like they can for campus residence halls.
IMPROPER REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: Ensuring students continue to feel comfortable having personal conversations with chapter volunteers and peer leaders. The designation of our members and volunteers as Campus Security Authorities by some higher education administrations is having a chilling effect on recruiting and retaining leaders who serve on the frontline of defense for student safety. While the intention of increasing transparency is commendable, the unintended consequence of less adult and peer mentoring offsets potential gain from this improper application of the Clery Reporting Act.
ANTI-HAZING LEGISLATION: Ensuring comprehensive hazing prevention measures — proactive education, transparency and accountability around standards — are addressed through federal legislation, in complement to additional organizational and university efforts.
*The NIC understands that sex is the classification as male or female assigned at birth and gender identity is a person’s internal sense of gender. The term is used because Title IX uses “sex” when referring to social fraternities, yet societal understanding has moved toward “gender identity.”
Develop a grassroots program for campus, local and state involvement.
Continue to host visits to Capitol Hill to lobby for legislative priorities.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Supporting the efforts of the NIC’s government relations program takes action. Dedication to these efforts—by both individuals and groups—will make a difference. Consider this:
Contact your members of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) and ask that they sponsor the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act (CHIA) and encourage its inclusion into comprehensive tax reform legislation.
Stay informed. Mobilize as a community.
Vote. Everyone’s involvement is vital to our voice being heard and our message being taken seriously by Congress. The future of this experience is in question. By our action we will help to impact the future of fraternities.