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updated: 5/29/2014 4:35 PM

UW-Madison mulls changes to fraternity pledge week

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Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. -- University of Wisconsin-Madison officials are debating pushing recruiting drives for fraternities and sororities to later in the fall semester or eliminating the drives entirely.

The university is reviewing other schools' Greek recruiting practices and will issue a report by the end of May. One of the school's largest fraternities told the Wisconsin State Journal that any changes could threaten the groups' existence.

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"If the UW administration is intent on killing the Greek system, the most effective way to accomplish that goal would be a ban on fall recruitment," members of UW-Madison fraternity Kappa Sigma in a recent letter to chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Fraternities now get many new members during the fall of students' freshman year.

Other colleges are regulating Greek recruitment in response to student deaths from heavy drinking and other behavior that is traditionally associated with the pledge period.

Fresno State University moved its recruitment period deeper into the fall semester after 18-year-old Philip Dhanens died of acute alcohol intoxication while pledging in 2012.

Eddie Dominguez, a Fresno State Greek adviser, said the school's Greek institutions haven't seen a negative impact on recruitment in the wake of the changes.

"Overall, the university was very pleased," Dominguez said.

UW-Madison officials say the report isn't the result of any deaths or tragedies, and that it was simply time to look at the practice.

"It's one of the only organizations on campus that when you join, you're making a lifelong commitment," said Eric Knueve, an assistant dean in the student life office. "We want to make sure that students fully understand the commitment they're making and doing it for the right reasons."

The school has 16 fraternities and 10 sororities with houses. Any changes would take effect in fall 2016, school officials said.

"We're trying to get the whole picture of what that will look like so we can make an informed decision," Knueve said.

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