On March 29th, Implementation and Assessment Group on Greek Life (IAGGL pronounced eagle) posted its metrics for review and comment from the Lafayette Community. The announcement by the Chair is available here.

The metrics cover three of the four Board’s four objectives for Greek Life, which are described in the announcement. IAGGL is still working on the metrics for the fourth objective.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity offered by the College for commenting on the metrics developed by IAGGL thus far. Comments may be submitted at this link. Because comments appear to be private, we’d appreciate any comments to be reposted publicly so the entire community can know the issues raised by students, parents, alumni, and faculty. You can repost comments to Lafayette in the comments thread of this post and the LinkedIn discussion on this topic under the Lafayette Alumni LinkedIn group.

The Board’s objectives are:

  • Fraternities and sororities must facilitate demonstrated learning opportunities for students and provide benefits to the College as a whole.
  • The academic performance of students affiliated with fraternities and sororities must be comparable to the student body as a whole.
  • The disciplinary profile of members of fraternities and sororities, as well as the individual organizations, must be comparable to the student body as a whole and other student organizations.
  • Fraternities and sororities must provide open access and engagement opportunities to all students at Lafayette (non-discriminatory in selection of members).

The metrics are:

Integration with Campus Learning Opportunities (Greek organizations and students where applicable):

  • Does each Greek organization plan/host five academic programs per year?
  • Do each of the five programs meet the following criteria: open to campus, have faculty involvement, not social as primary focus, directly planned by Greek organizations, approved by the director of fraternity and sorority life, have active member participation?
  • Are Greek members actively involved in a leadership role of one non-Greek organization (total cases and ratio of leaders to membership)?

Academic Performance  (Greek students to non-Greek students, separated where possible by Greek organization and also by gender):

  • GPA 3rd semester students
  • GPA 5th semester students
  • GPA 7th semester students
  • Major distribution (numbers and ratio)
  • Academic probation (total cases and ratio)
  • EXCEL Scholar (total cases and ratio)
  • Thesis participation (total cases and ratio)
  • Departmental honors participation (total cases and ratio)
  • Study abroad participation (total cases and ratio)
  • Other honor recipients/Dean’s List (total cases and ratio)
  • Co-curricular (academic major) organization membership (total cases and ratio)
  • Internship participation (total cases and ratio)

Disciplinary Profile  (Greek students to non-Greek students where possible, separated where possible by Greek organization and also by gender):

  • Conduct probation of individuals (total cases and ratio)
  • Conduct violations (total cases and ratio))
  • Individual repeated offenses (total cases and ratio)
  • Sanctions issued
  • Administrative hearing cases by group
  • Administrative panel cases by group
  • Sexual assault Public Safety Reports (total cases)
  • COMPASS compliance
 

3 Responses to Greek Life Metrics Feedback Requested

  1. I submitted the following to their website. Please share in the interest of public discussion:

    First, thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the metrics. I’ll submit other comments after further reflection.

    I am disappointed IAGGL transformed the Board’s objective “Fraternities and sororities must facilitate demonstrated learning opportunities for students and provide benefits to the College as a whole” into “Integration with Campus Learning Opportunities” especially since the metrics IAGGL presents for this objective focus on academics, which is already one of the other objectives. Learning is not equivalent with academics as implied by the IAGGL metrics for this objective.

    The IAGGL proposed metrics in this category do not measure any of the demonstrated learning opportunities that our chapters bring to students in the day to day residential learning environment that is central to the College’s mission. I strongly urge IAGGL to consider the demonstrated learning opportunities available inside each of our chapters. Such demonstrated learning opportunities include, but are not limited to:

    Running a commercial kitchen; managing employees in compliance with local, state, and federal tax regulations/filing requirement; negotiating contracts; and managing a budget with over $100K in annual revenue and weekly forecast updates due to alumni. Actually running a small business is a tangible, demonstrated learning opportunity.

    Property management for buildings with 20-35 residents. Furniture inventory, dealing with vacancies, insurance, negotiating leases, dealing with landlord/leaseholders, etc.

    Practice leadership within each chapter where students learn important life skills such as meeting facilitation, public speaking, public relations, communication (verbal/written), event planning, and put into practice group dynamics theory studied in the classroom. Our chapters are laboratories where students learn to refine their leadership skills as well as general interpersonal skills in alignment with the Mission of Lafayette College.

    Business communication reaching out to alumni in the workplace, inviting them to campus to speak about their field and/or areas of interest which has the benefit of both the experience of engaging alumni professionally and the learning that comes from on campus speakers who are not faculty members. Such learning opportunities and benefits should be counted even if they are not academic engaging the faculty.

    Leadership development workshops hosted by each chapter with alumni involvement to help students develop their leadership skills.

    Student participation at national leadership and personal development conferences focusing on intense residential learning experiences in Greek Life.

    Corporate governance including writing position descriptions formalizing business operations with specific duties putting in practice corporate governance lessons learned in the classroom. Experience and manage transitions for a plethora of offices each semester.

    Focusing solely on academic programs with faculty involvement ignores these key aspects of the demonstrated learning opportunities prevalent in Greek Life. If IAGGL does not attempt to measure any of these activities, they are missing the point of the Board of Trustees’ objective of demonstrated learning opportunities. Likewise in terms of measuring alumni involvement instead of the proposed metric focusing exclusively on faculty involvement.

    Not all learning is academics. I am disappointed IAGGL’s metrics does not reflect this understanding since it is central to the College’s mission as a residential institution of higher learning. Athletes learn on the field of competition. Volunteers learn on Alternative School Break. Engineers learn participating in Engineers without Borders. RAs learn performing their duties in residence life. Volunteers learn in Landis service learning events. To say there are no learning opportunities in those groups simply because none conduct academic programs with faculty involvement of the kind IAGGL seeks to measure for is ludicrous.

    So it is for Greek Life. Greek men and women learn in our chapters because opportunities are ingrained in our culture in addition to any specific programs we run.

    IAGGL needs to count these demonstrated learning opportunities in their metrics measuring the Board’s objective of fraternities and sororities must facilitate demonstrated learning opportunities for students and provide benefits to the College as a whole.

    Yes, our chapters are different from one another which makes measuring the types of learning opportunities offered by each chapter difficult. Students should not be punished by having the IAGGL metrics exclude demonstrated learning opportunities simply because IAGGL cannot overcome this challenge and choosing to instead focus on academic programs with faculty, which misses the entire point of Greek Life.

    I am bewildered and troubled that at this stage of the process IAGGL’s metrics reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the learning opportunities provided in Greek Life and benefits to the College.

  2. Zilla says:

    I just posted this, and emailed it to VP Limas, CC’ing Prof.s Reiter and Root in the Math Dept:

    The IAGGL’s recently published metrics for evaluating the progress of Greek organizations raise several concerns, of which I wish to address one. There are twelve “Academic Performance” metrics and eight “Disciplinary Profile” metrics, and the proposal seems to be to compare each Greek organization to the non-Greek campus population on each of these. This methodology is deeply flawed, and is all but guaranteed to find the organizations deficient, no matter what the quality of the organization involved.

    Here’s why. If ten randomly chosen groups of non-Greek students were tested according to these 20 metrics, with about 90% probability, at least two of them would fail on eight or more of the metrics. It is all but certain that Greek organizations that fail on as many as many as eight of the twenty metrics would be deemed to have failed to live up to the Board’s mandate. Thus, we can be confident that, with these metrics, at least two of the ten Greek organizations on campus will be penalized with very weak empirical evidence for doing so. I know that the IAGGL is dedicated to rigorous academics and to ensuring that the Lafayette community does not make decisions based on prejudice. The published metrics do not take into the basics of hypothesis testing that faculty in the Math, Econ, and Psychology departments teach every year, and open the door to judging Greek organizations based on prejudice rather than on facts.

    I realize that not everyone has had the benefit of a statistics class, and that it’s been a while for some. So here’s a short refresher. Hypothetically, suppose we were to randomly assign non-Greek students to ten non-Greek groups (Gates hall, Jesser Hall, etc) purely at random. Since the assignment is random, any test that would penalize any of these groups would be deeply unfair and counterproductive. Since the assignments are random, the chances that any single non-Greek group (say Gates Hall) underperforms on at least five of the twenty metrics is the same as the chance that at least five out of twenty coin flips will come out heads, which is 96%. The chance that Gates Hall underperforms on at least eight of the metrics is about 50%. It gets worse. Since ten groups are tested, there is a very high chance that some of them will be penalized purely because of the luck of the draw. Since failing at least eight metrics is basically a coin flip, the chance of at least two out of ten groups failing is again the same as at least two of ten coin flips coming up heads, which is 90%. So even if the groups were no different from the non-Greek population, two of ten groups would fail at least eight tests with 90% probability.

  3. Zilla says:

    Posted follow up comments addressing my other concerns:

    As I mentioned in my previous comments, the published comments raised several concerns. I believe that it is important that the metrics adopted help ensure that the Trustees’ objectives are met, and that they are met in a manner that is consistent with the mission of the College.

    My previous comments pointed out that given a set of metrics, a group of students that is “comparable to the student body” would be expected to underperform the student body in about half these metrics, and outperform the student body in about half of them. To expect groups “comparable to the student body” to outperform the student body in most of them is to expect everybody to be above average, in the manner of Garrison Keeler’s Lake Wobegon. Thus, the IAGGL needs to be careful in how the many metric proposed are used, and the proposal does not specify this. I would be glad to engage with the members of the IAGGL on this, and help design a solid methodology.

    In my opinion, one of the many benefits organizations such as fraternities and sororities bring to the College is to provide students with learning opportunities that are not provided nor anticipated by the College. Indeed, this is the key reason for Lafayette to encourage a diverse set of organizations on campus. For example, they provide venues for learning valuable skills such as the financial management of such an organization, and the inter-personal skills critical to getting things done in groups.

    As such, I am concerned that the metrics are heavily biased towards measuring outcomes such as GPA that are already adequately provided by the formal curriculum of the college, and contain no metrics that cover the other ways in which student groups enhance the learning experience. Even the more non-traditional metrics proposed have such a bias. Several examples are highlighted below:

    1. The metric of Integration Campus Learning Opportunities is whether each Greek organization plan and host five academic programs a year. In how many residence halls at Lafayette did the students plan five such programs in the past year? How many will in the next? Does the IAGGL believe that the residence halls are not integrated with campus learning opportunities? I have given a number of lectures on signal processing, statistics, and computer science to EE students at Lafayette, at the invitation of faculty members. If a Greek organization were to host me instead, would this be less of a campus learning opportunity because a faculty member was not involved?

    2. Major Distribution is a metric of Academic Performance. The rationale for this metric is hard to understand. Is the IAGGL suggesting that some majors offered by the College are academically less valuable? If so, what are they, and why is the College offering them? Or is the IAGGL proposing that Greek organizations should be communities with diverse academic interests (like, for example, McKelvy House)? Or is it the opposite, that Greek organizations should be communities that share a passion for some particular academic area (like, for example, Eta Kappa Nu, or the French Floor)? Is one preferable to the other, and why?

    3. Co-curricular (academic major) organization membership is a metric of Academic Performance. As an Electrical Engineering major, I was a student member of the IEEE. I ceased to be a member when I discovered that this organization lobbied actively for the reduction in the number of H1B visas granted to foreign engineers such as myself. In the judgment of the IAGGL, this would be a reduction in my academic performance.

    4. Internship participation and EXCEL scholarship are metrics of Academic Performance. Having been an EXCEL scholar, and having hosted interns, I believe these are both valuable learning experiences. However the specificity of the metrics introduces bias. I spent the summer of my junior year as a summer research student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, participating in a nationally competitive summer research program. This precluded my participation in an internship or in EXCEL research that summer. As written, the metrics penalize organizations whose members participate in such prestigious learning opportunities outside of Lafayette.

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