“I’ve recovered millions and millions of dollars from homeowners’ policies,” a top fraternal plaintiff’s attorney told me. For that is how many of the claims against boys who violate the strict policies are paid: from their parents’ homeowners’ insurance. As for the exorbitant cost of providing the young man with a legal defense for the civil case (in which, of course, there are no public defenders), that is money he and his parents are going to have to scramble to come up with, perhaps transforming the family home into an ATM to do it. The financial consequences of fraternity membership can be devastating, and they devolve not on the 18-year-old “man” but on his planning-for-retirement parents.
Like the six-beer policy , the Fraternal Information and Programming Group’s chillingly comprehensive crisis-management plan was included in its manual for many years. When asked why this was so, Dave Westol, a longtime FIPG board member, said, “Member organizations prefer to establish their own procedures, and therefore the section has been eliminated.” However, many fraternities continue to rely on the group’s advice for in-house risk management, and it is well worth examining if you want to know what takes place in the hours following many fraternity disasters. As it is described in the two most recent editions that I was able to obtain (2003 and 2007), the plan serves a dual purpose, at once benevolent and mercenary. The benevolent part is accomplished by the clear directive that injured parties are to receive immediate medical attention, and that all fraternity brothers who come into contact with the relevant emergency workers are to be completely forthright about what has taken place. And the rest? The plans I obtained recommend six important steps:
In the midst of the horror, the chapter president takes immediate, commanding, and inspiring control of the situation: “In times of stress, leaders step forward
2. A call is made to the fraternity’s crisis hotline or the national headquarters, no matter the hour: “Someone will be available. They would much rather hear about a situation from you at 3:27 a.m. than receive an 8:01 a.m. telephone call from a reporter asking for a comment about ‘The situation involving your chapter at ____.’ ”
The president closes the fraternity house to outsiders and summons all members back to the house: “Unorthodox situations call for unorthodox responses from leaders
3. Most situations occur at night. Therefore, be prepared to call a meeting of all members and all pledged https://installmentloansvirginia.net/cities/kilmarnock/ members as soon as possible, even if that is at 3 a.m.”
4. One member-who has already received extensive media training-is put in charge of all relations with the press, an entity fraternities view as biased and often unscrupulous. The appointed member should be prepared to present a concise, factual, and minimally alarming account of what took place. For example: “A new member was injured at a social event.”
5. In the case of the death of a guest or a member, fraternity brothers do not attempt direct contact with the deceased’s parents. This hideous task is to be left to the impersonal forces of the relevant professionals. (I know of one family who did not know their son was in any kind of trouble until-many hours after his death, and probably long after his fraternity brothers had initiated the crisis-management protocol-their home phone rang and the caller ID came up with the area code of their boy’s college and a single word: coroner). If the dead person was a fraternity member who lived in the house, his brothers should return any borrowed items to his room and temporarily relocate his roommate, if he had one. Members may offer to pack up his belongings, but “it is more likely the family will want to do this themselves.” Several empty boxes might thoughtfully be left outside the room for this purpose.