Guidelines for Fraternity and Sorority Presidents
Note: These emergency procedures have been formulated for the Presidents of individual fraternity and sorority chapters in the event of a death or serious injury to a member of your chapter or any other emergency situation.
- Be certain that every member and guest in your house knows that you, as President, are in charge in any emergency situation involving serious injury or death. In your absence, establish a ranking order of officers and be sure those officers know where to find your copy of these procedures. You should already have arranged with your chapter advisor how s/he is to be notified. Be sure, also, that your house director is aware of the procedure.
- If a tragedy has occurred within your house, close the house at once. You cannot give instructions if your members are leaving and strangers are entering. Permit only your members and University and/or city officials, including the police, to enter.
- Your first calls are to 911 then contact the SHSU Police Department’s emergency number at 936-294-1000. The SHSU Police Department has a crisis notification list and will automatically contact the appropriate University officials. The Dean of Students is Team Leader of the Students of Concern Crisis Management Team and will arrive on-site or go directly to the hospital, whichever is appropriate. If the Dean of Students is unavailable or goes directly to the hospital, he may assign an on-site coordinator, usually a Student Services staff member, who will assist on site or at the hospital.
- Your next telephone calls should be to your advisor and your national office.
- Assemble your members in a group. Explain to them that there is an emergency situation and the house is closed. Ask them to cooperate in halting outgoing telephone calls until the situation is under control. You are advised not discuss the situation until the Dean of Students (or other Student Services, University Police or Residence Life staff member) arrives. Instruct your members initially to make NO STATEMENTS to anyone other than University officials or an emergency responder. You, as the President, should be the one to make any appropriate statements to the media after the situation is under control and the Public Relations Office or Dean of Students has discussed with you the content of any statement.
- In the event of death, serious accident or illness, the Dean of Students, police officer, or doctor will notify the family and advise them of the student’s condition. YOU SHOULD NOT CONTACT THE FAMILY UNTIL THE DEAN OF STUDENTS OR HIS DESIGNEE ADVISES YOU THAT THEY HAVE BEEN CONTACTED BY THE UNIVERSITY.
- While your chapter members are gathered, there are several things to be done. It is important that they be urged to remain calm. When the situation warrants, out-of-house members and pledges may need to be called. Work with the University staff members to determine how to make those calls and contacts and to formulate statements to keep everyone informed. Your chapter advisor should be kept informed of all of the steps you are taking.
- If the member or pledge lived in a house off campus, do not move any of his/her possessions. Since most of our students share a room, perhaps you will want to move the roommate somewhere temporarily. The University will assist with temporary housing upon request.
After the family has been officially notified of the death, you should call the family to offer sympathy on behalf of the chapter. During a later phone call, if appropriate ask what their wishes are regarding their daughter’s/son’s possessions. You may offer to pack them in boxes, but, parents usually will prefer to come to the house and do this themselves. Before the parents arrive, make sure that all borrowed items are returned to the student’s room and, if possible, lock the room. When the parents arrive, you may want to have empty boxes available and offer to help. This is a traumatic experience for the parents and they may or may not want to be with any of their son’s/daughter’s friends.
All necessary paperwork for withdrawing the student from the University will be handled by the Dean of Students’ Office.
It is, of course, proper and you are encouraged to send sympathy cards, notes, or flowers. If a funeral is in-state or nearby, it will mean a great deal to the parents if some members can attend. Most of your national organizations have a memorial ritual pertaining to the chapter. Check your own individual procedures and offer it as an option to the parents in advance of the final arrangements.
The Dean of Students is available to assist in the planning and implementation of an on-campus memorial service. It is recommended that the service be held in the week following the death at a time convenient for the family to attend if possible.