57th General Assembly Legislation Recap

By Lynn Chipperfield, General Counsel 

At three busy and productive Legislative Sessions of the 2018 (57th) General Assembly, our Fraternity adopted several important amendments to our laws.

The Assembly adopted a bill with respect to alcohol-free housing. It provides that effective September 1, 2019, all chapter houses must be free of hard alcohol (40 proof or higher), except in the quarters of Brothers of legal drinking age for personal consumption or when hard alcohol is served by third-party vendors. The Office of Administration is charged to develop an alcohol education program to be administered during associate membership, a program that Collegiate Brothers must also complete. The new law will expire at the conclusion of the 2020 General Assembly, subject to extension by that Assembly.

The Assembly considered four bills dealing with Alumni Advisory Boards and Alumni Control Boards. Our new laws provide that non-Members of the Fraternity may be called upon to serve on an Alumni Advisory Board, that an Alumni Control Board may retain jurisdiction over members of a Zeta after undergraduate operations have been discontinued, and that an Alumni Control Board can reverse its decisions on member discipline at any time until the Grand High Pi has ruled on an appeal. The Assembly declined to adopt a bill that would have allowed service of non-Members on Alumni Control Boards.

With respect to dues and fees, the Assembly changed our laws to provide that the Student Advisory Committee must “approve” any increases in dues and fees. The former language required only that SAC “review” those changes. The Assembly also provided that the spring payment will be due on March 15 rather than February 15 for all chapters, in deference to the academic schedule of schools on the quarter system.

A technical change was made to provide that a vote on association can be taken at “any” meeting of the chapter, rather than at any “scheduled” meeting. The Assembly also defined Associate Membership as beginning on the date an offer of associate membership is accepted by a prospective new member in writing, and established that the payment of the Associate Member Fee is still non-refundable, but will not be due until 15 days after association or on the date of the Associate Member Ceremony, whichever is the later. Members are reminded that the Resolution on Rituals mandates that the Associate Member Ceremony must be conducted as soon after recruitment as possible.

With respect to individual member discipline, the Assembly modified the provisions on discipline by the chapter Executive Committee to clarify that discipline can be imposed at an informal conference of the Executive Committee if a full hearing is not required or requested. The Assembly rejected a bill that would have reduced from five years to one year the period of time a former Member has to wait to be reinstated after expulsion.

With respect to chapter discipline, the Assembly expanded the rights of a chapter to include appeal to the Grand High Zeta from orders of probation in addition to appeal from orders of suspension. The Assembly also added language to require that the Grand High Zeta must review the probation protocols not less than annually and advise the chapters each time a protocol is approved or amended. The Assembly rejected a bill that would have called for disclosure of internal records regarding matters of chapter discipline.

In the interest of greater visibility to our Members, the Assembly included in our laws for the first time provisions on formatting and content of proposed legislation that had previously been found only in the Standing Rules of the General Assembly. The Assembly also included provisions for the making of non-substantive changes to our laws, which had previously been included only in a General Assembly resolution.

The Assembly made significant changes to the selection criteria for members of the Student Advisory Committee, abandoning the requirement that SAC will consist of one member from each conclave in favor of a selection of members at large, but with a goal of achieving as much diversity as possible with respect to geography, size of chapter membership, etc. In addition, Associate Members can now serve on SAC, and SAC members must maintain a 2.75 cumulative grade point average.

The Assembly took two actions with respect to the Chapter Operating Standards in Article 3, Section 3 of our Constitution: (1) the standard requiring attendance at regional events was replaced with a standard requiring attendance at any High Alpha Summit, and (2) the standard requiring the appointment of a High Pi and the standard requiring the appointment of an Alumni Advisory Board were combined into one standard.

The Assembly changed the amount and the method by which chapters are assessed a penalty for non-attendance at General Fraternity events. The law now provides that the fine will be in the amount of $50 times the total number of Collegiate Brothers and Associate Members as of February 15 preceding the event. The fine may be waived upon appeal to the Office of Administration within 90 days after the event. The Assembly declined to adopt a bill that would have set a $600 maximum fee for attendance at any General Fraternity conference.

The Assembly added a provision that allows a member to gain inactive standing on the basis of medical hardship documented by a licensed health care professional.

So our Members and non-Members will more fully appreciate our commitment to non-discrimination, the Assembly added to our Constitution the existing provisions in a Mandatory Resolution regarding non-discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. The Assembly also adopted broader language in the existing Mandatory Resolution regarding sexual harassment so it will include other forms of sexual misconduct and sexual violence.

The Assembly addressed two bills dealing with our Initiation Ritual. In one, the Assembly adopted a change in the process by which a chapter performs the Initiation Ritual upon installation or colonization. In the second, the Assembly declined to adopt a bill that would have effected certain changes in the staging instructions of the Initiation Ritual

The Assembly also declined to adopt some of the other bills proposed at the 2018 General Assembly:

  • The Assembly rejected a bill that was referred by the 2016 General Assembly and that would have precluded the chapter Executive Committee from acting in the absence of the High Pi.
  • The Assembly declined to adopt a bill that would have provided that a chapter is on probation if it is 30 days in arrears on its financial obligations to the General Fraternity.
  • The Assembly referred to the 2020 General Assembly a bill that would have amended the existing policy on sponsorship of concerts.

The Constitution and Statutory Code will be updated to include all of these changes in our laws, and it will be posted online soon. Hard copies of the new C&SC will be distributed after printing.

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