IFC’s Risk Management Assistance Team wins Risk Reduction Award

Executive members of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) from Jack Friend (LA'18), Jack Benoit (E'18), IFC President and Founder of RMAT Rob Jacobson (LA'16), Alex Spring (LA'17), and Sam Berzok (LA'17) meet in Olin Hall to discuss the implementation of the new Risk Management Assessment Team (RMAT) that will seek to keep fraternity events safer on Nov. 10, 2015. Sofie Hecht / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts Interfraternity Council’s (IFC) Risk Management Assistance Team (RMAT) recently won an award for risk reduction from the Northeast Greek Leadership Association (NGLA), according to the NGLA’s website, ngla.org.

RMAT is a program designed to improve the safety of events hosted by fraternities and sororities, according to Mickey Toogood, Judicial Affairs Administrator and advisor to the IFC.

“RMAT is a student-led initiative designed to assist fraternities and sororities with the events they’re hosting,” Toogood said. “It’s an extra pair of eyes and ears at Greek events.”

RMAT volunteers are meant to be very visible at Greek events.

“RMAT volunteers wear a designated ‘RMAT green’ uniform so that party guests can easily identify them,” Rob Jacobson, IFC President and founder of RMAT, said.

According to the RMAT Program Outline created by Jacobson, RMAT was founded in response to past disciplinary issues involving Greek life.

“In light of the 2014-2015 disciplinary record, the IFC has defined a need to shift its attention from reactive measures to a proactive focus,” the outline said.

RMAT was one of three winners of this year’s NGLA’s Risk Reduction award. They were recognized at the 2016 NGLA Annual Conference, which was held from Feb. 26-28 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to the NGLA website.

“The NGLA award for Risk Reduction recognizes risk management policies or programs that have positively impacted their campuses,” Jacobson said. “I believe RMAT won this award because it is the leading risk management program in the northeast.”

RMAT is designed to function as an additional measure of protection to ensure the safety of Greek events.

“It is not a replacement for any Risk Management procedures already in place by any fraternity, but an enhancement to that,” Su McGlone, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life said.

RMAT is made up of volunteers from each Greek organization within the IFC, according to the program outline.

“These members may volunteer themselves, or be appointed to this position by their chapters,” the outline said. “Each chapter must submit at least one member as their RMAT representative. Between 2-5 are recommended.”

RMAT was implemented starting in Oct. 2015, according to the program guide.

Jacobson explained that he came up with the idea for RMAT because he wanted to make fraternity and sorority events safer.

“As IFC President, I work closely with administrators and peer students on a daily basis to create and promote a Greek community that serves to enrich the experiences of the students involved in these organizations,” he said. “My main initiative during my presidency has been to improve the safety of Greek social events.”

Toogood said that the idea for RMAT was partially developed during a retreat held by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life this past September. After the retreat, he said, Jacobson continued to develop the idea, and Toogood stayed in contact with the IFC as an advisor.

“One of the things I was interested in was getting students to think more concretely about risk management and judicial affairs,” Toogood said. “It’s been very much a student-led initiative, and they’ve done a great job.”

Jacobson said that the RMAT program is unlike any risk management programs at other colleges and universities, and that other schools have contacted him for advice on starting their own programs similar to RMAT.

“There is no other program like it—where RMAT is dedicated to a proactive approach to party safety,” Jacobson said. “Student leaders from other schools, such as Trinity University in Texas and Harvard University, have noticed out comprehensive social media campaign. These students have reached out to me asking about the program and how something similar might be personalized for the social outlets on those campuses.”

The IFC has striven to make RMAT a regular part of campus life and hope that it will bring students and faculty members from different organizations together to work towards a common goal.

“I think that the collaboration and sense of community in working together has been an extremely strong point,” McGlone said. “A program like this can’t fix every single issue that occurs at parties, but it can help and I believe that every bit of awareness and assistance that students can provide will overall help make the party scene safer.”

According to Jacobson, RMAT has been a success so far.

“Since its launch, RMAT has attended 21 fraternity social events,” Jacobson said. “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in alcohol related transports at these social events, and we’ve had far fewer IGC judicial board sanctions as a result of RMAT’s presence. The IFC fraternity community is currently enjoying a year with the fewest incidents in recent memory.”

Jacobson hopes to extend RMAT to other campus events, including those hosted by sororities and other risk management and safety programs.

“My vision for RMAT is to, one day in the future, work with the IGC Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force, as well as work with TEMS in order to enhance the training requirements of each RMAT volunteer,” Jacobson said. “Another long-term goal is to expand the role of sororities within the program, as many sorority leaders have reached out to me, very eager to get involved.”

At the moment, as RMAT is still new to campus, Jacobson said that he mainly wants to focus on promoting RMAT and to further integrate it into campus life and the Greek community here at Tufts.

Jacobson also clarified that RMAT does have its limitations.

“RMAT is not, nor does it purport to be, an intervention task force,” he said. “RMAT is simply able to intervene in the spirit that any concerned friend might, in regards to a variety of issues.”

Despite the recognition RMAT received from the NGLA, Jacobson remained humble about his role in its success.

“While RMAT may be the winner of the NGLA award, the award truly belongs to the students of the Greek community, and the greater Tufts community, who have supported the program every step of the way, who have volunteered their Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to attend parties as sober monitors, and who believe that together we can create a safer, stronger, Greek community,” he said.