Oswego State’s new policy requiring Greek organizations to purchase insurance policies by August 21 has left a number of organizations in limbo. Several organizations must now find a way to fund and implement potentially expensive insurance policies in under four months. The majority of the months will take place while the organizations’ constituents are away from the school for summer break.
SUNY schools discussed changing their rules when it came to insurance policies for Greek Life organizations several years ago. This led to a number of universities across the nation requiring Greek organizations to purchase policies. Oswego State adopted the policy, but chose to grandfather in organizations already recognized.
However, a letter sent to Greek organizations Friday declared any Greek organization without an insurance policy in place will not be able to register for the fall semester, a process every Greek organization is required to do yearly. Several organizations do not have a policy in place, and will have to find one in that time or risk no longer being recognized by the school.
While the policy itself is not in bad faith, a recent lawsuit filed against an Oswego State fraternity showed the possible liability an uninsured Greek organization can be. The school has a need to protect itself in this regard.
The issue is in the implementation. The timeframe given to students to understand and purchase these complex policies is unreasonable, especially given that the announcement timed with finals week and summer.
Even further, members of Oswego State’s Greek Life were not included in any discussion regarding the decision. They were simply emailed a letter four months before needing a certificate of proof for the insurance. Most of these organizations are now figuring things out on their own. Had the students been given the chance to sit down with administration and been warned this change was coming, a more reasonable timeframe could have been worked out.
Instead, organizations will be scrambling to find the funds for these general liability policies while tackling finals and then during summer break.
National Greek organizations at Oswego State already have coverage with liability policies through their national headquarters, so it is local organizations that are most likely to be hurt by the policy.
The school may have good reason for putting such a policy in place, but there are several appropriate ways to go about notifying those involved. An email to student four weeks before the end of the semester is not one of them.