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SUNY Potsdam task force aims to end Greek woes.

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POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam’s Greek Life Task Force, the group created to help quell a rash of behavioral problems created by fraternities and sororities, has nearly completed its information gathering and plans to make recommendations to college officials in January.

The task force was created in the spring, with the goal of learning as much as it could about the cause of the problems surrounding SUNY Potsdam’s Greek organizations and potential solutions to those problems before making recommendations to the school administration.

Task force Chairman Alan L. Hersker said the group has spent the semester so far gathering information, and now it is time to synthesize its findings into concrete advice.

One particularly revelatory exercise, he said, was a trip he and other task force members took to SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Geneseo.

“Both of those colleges had problems with their Greek systems in the past, maybe 10 or 12 years ago, and really turned things around,” Mr. Hersker said.

Both schools did not make any significant reforms to their Greek life until after misbehavior caused the death of a student. At SUNY Potsdam, where nothing so serious has occurred, Mr. Hersker said, the task force is a way of preventing tragedy and getting ahead of the problem.

“SUNY Potsdam is ahead of the curve. We’re doing this before that bad thing happens,” he said.

At both SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Geneseo, fraternities and sororities are now well-integrated with the college, according to Mr. Hersker. They have a good relationship with the administration, and will call their peers out for bad behavior. Underage drinking and hazing, two problems that have plagued SUNY Potsdam recently, are not tolerated.

“It was a much different tone at those two schools. It was much less combative between the administration and the Greeks. There was certainly more of a sense of cooperation,” Mr. Hersker said.

For improvements to be made at SUNY Potsdam, Mr. Hersker said, efforts must be made to ease the tension between the administration and the Greeks. Fraternities and sororities also must take a sense of responsibility in their community, he said.

As the task force finishes its work, fraternities and sororities have been dealing with the heightened attention and restrictions. Groups were limited in how and when they could recruit and train new members, to reduce the chance of hazing.

The college held a Greek summit earlier this semester, where students, advisers and Greek alumni met to discuss the issues and suggest solutions.

While the task force is not ready to make many specific recommendations yet, Mr. Hersker did divulge what he thinks is an important step for the college to take.

SUNY Potsdam should create a permanent body that works similarly to the task force, acting as a liaison between the Greeks and the school at large, he said.

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