The history of the Greek movement has been marked with alcohol abuse, drugs, gender relations, hazing and fatal fires much of which could have been avoided had the necessary steps been taken to be aware of and prepare for the possible risks. Risks are defined as any actions that have a potential to result in negative consequences for others or ourselves. Many of the chapter’s social events, new member activities, etc. are simply made from habit or tradition. No intentional decision is being made to risk a new member’s life with a particular activity. Yet, unfortunately, many of the decisions do involve risk, do have unanticipated consequences and do cause a ripple or domino effect far greater than anyone might ever anticipate.
The health and safety process is not a stop-and-go proposition. It is intended to be ongoing. The chapter’s health and safety practices should be the result of continual improvement. A complete review of policies, procedures and practices should be made quarterly. This will insure that the program is keeping pace with the needs of the chapter and the chapter is actively supporting the program.
Problems and setbacks can be expected. However, the very best programs, under continual scrutiny and constant improvement, will overcome these obstacles to see that the welfare of the chapter is being served. Above all else, Pi Kappa Alpha cares about the health and safety of our members and guests.
What is PIKE Health & Safety?
The PIKE Health & Safety program provides strategies for students focusing on:
These three areas have always been central to Pi Kappa Alpha’s educational efforts. Health & Safety provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to chapter operations. Moreover, the health and safety of Pi Kappa Alpha members and guests is what we are striving to achieve and, ultimately, what matters most.
Pi Kappa Alpha continues to focus on educational efforts empowering members and volunteers to operate from a principle of self-governance within the framework of the Fraternity’s Standards. Resources and education encompass the fundamental obligation to “do the right thing” and how to meet that obligation.
PIKE will continue to emphasize the importance of understanding expectations established by Fraternal Standards; however, we also provide training resources that empower chapters to adopt student–driven chapter leadership and successfully establish behavior expectations for members and guests based on the law, fraternal standards, and institutional policies.
Furthermore, chapter leadership will continue to be provided support in the development of intervention strategies to increase understanding of expectations and models for implementing chapter-level accountability when brothers or guests act outside of the stated standards of behavior.
The Health & Safety Committee
It could be argued that the health and safety committee consists of the entire chapter. After all, a single decision by a single member can set off a chain of events that can lead to a major health and safety crisis. So, although the list below is referred to as the “health and safety committee,” they are more appropriately viewed as the “coaching staff”. They develop the game plan, direct the practice sessions and motivate all the participants. Every member and associate of the chapter, though, must work to put the game plan into action. While the chapter’s composition of the health and safety committee may vary, the following is a good starting point. And although each committee member has a specific task, each must cooperate with the other committee members to accomplish the chapter’s health and safety goals, policies and procedures.
Health & Safety Officer – The chapter’s health & safety officer supervises the health and safety team. The president should appoint him. He is responsible for the overall management of the program. He should make sure that his committee members are educated and dedicated to effective health and safety practices, in general, and to their specific area of responsibility.
Chapter President – While the health & safety officer is responsible for the health and safety team’s efforts of the chapter, the president bears special responsibility. The chapter president could be held personally responsible should the chapter fail to adhere to the Fraternity’s Standards. Thus, the chapter president should be closely involved with all activities of the health and safety team. He must remember, however, that the health & safety officer should have the authority and support necessary to properly run his committee.
Health & Safety Advisor – The chapter’s health & safety advisor provides the much needed perspective of an alumnus on the important issue of health and safety. This advisor also acts as a liaison to the other alumni groups (i.e. housing corporation and alumni association) and external constituencies such as the university and community. An ideal health and safety advisor would provide an attorney’s perspective on health and safety issues. Some other duties include helping to develop a crisis management plan, educate the membership, resourcing speakers to present to the chapter and maintain a working relationship with police, fire and health inspectors.
The Social Chairman – The individual most responsible for planning social events within the framework of the health and safety policy, must be thoroughly educated on and engaged in the chapter’s health and safety program. By placing the social chairman on the committee, the social chairman and health and safety chairman relationship is cooperative. These two individuals are on the same team with the same goals of health and safety and this will help ease the road to effective health and safety practices. Be cautious that this relationship does not turn into a monitoring role, rather than a collective and cooperative health and safety team. The social chairman should also be cognizant of coordinating any social event in accordance with any and all University, Inter-fraternal Council (IFC) and the Fraternity’s Standards.
The Facility Manager (if applicable) – All chapter facilities should always comply with all local fire and health codes and standards. It is the responsibility of the facility manager to monitor, maintain and ensure the chapter’s adherence to the fire and health codes with regards to the chapter facility. Therefore, it is extremely important that the facility manager be properly educated on all the local fire and health codes as well as proper crisis management protocol.
The Member-at-Large – Some chapters consider appointing one or more members-at-large to the health and safety committee. This can be helpful in a large chapter or one that does not currently have a chapter facility. The members-at-large should be members who can be counted on to sell the team’s program in chapter meetings and among the other brothers outside of formal meetings. The health & safety officer and his team will often encounter resistance when they sell their program. The members-at-large are typically influential members of the chapter that can and will counter the resistance as well as gain the support of the chapter for the health and safety policies.
Specific Functions of the Health & Safety Committee
The ultimate responsibility for taking charge of the chapter’s health and safety program rests with the health and safety chair. As recommended, the best way to meet this responsibility is through a team. The following is a list of functions compiled from the Fraternity’s most successful chapters:
- Upon election, develop or update a comprehensive health and safety policy to be submitted to the chapter for approval and to implement upon approval.
- To develop and implement a chapter crisis management plan that dictates how the chapter responds in the event of a crisis.
- To insure the chapter is educated in and adheres to the Standards, Constitution and Chapter Codes of the Fraternity, the chapter’s health and safety policies, the interfraternity council (IFC) and the university policies and protocol where the chapter is located.
- To ensure all chapter functions are conducted in accordance with the Fraternity’s Standards.
- All new members should be educated on, adhere to, and sign the Chapter Statement of Position on Hazing.
- To educate the social chairman in health and safety best practices.
- To develop a plan for fire prevention, to include elements of fire prevention, safety measures and emergency procedures to be followed in the event of a fire, to be submitted to the chapter for approval.
- To conduct a program of education for the chapter in the areas of fire prevention, safety measures, drugs and alcohol, hazing, sexual abuse and emergency procedures to be utilized in the event of a crisis.
- To allow the chapter’s facility, if any, to be inspected by a qualified official for the purpose of maintaining it in a safe condition.
- To report violations of the health and safety plan, if any, to the chapter at a regular chapter meeting, and at regular times and places to encourage the chapter members to abide by the health and safety plan.
- To make quarterly assessments of the chapter’s health and safety practices and make recommendations to the executive council of the chapter.
- To report immediately to the Fraternity’s staff any occurrences that might give rise to a claim against the chapter, its alumni association, its local house corporation and/or the Fraternity.
The PIKE Blog and the PIKE Podcast are resources available to you to help manage and support your committee. Both platforms have resources specific to you, and sharing them is a simple as a few clicks. We can’t wait to see everything you’ll accomplish this year!
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy