As we’ve communicated in the past, DKE’s alumni and student leadership work hand in glove to align ourselves with the Board of Trustees’ vision for Lafayette College. We closely monitor our progress fulfilling the Board’s directives from the October 22, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting which included the administration and faculty implementing 23 of 31 recommendations. Due to the severity of the threat if these directives are not met (potential elimination of the Greek system), the timetable to do so (less than 2 years remaining with 1 year already passed), and some recent troubling leading indicators, we’re giving the entire chapter and the public an unprecedented behind the scenes look of how we monitor and control the governance of our chapter.
Student and alumni leadership use a dashboard (download the full dashboard PDF or PPTX) to track progress in implementing the Board’s policy. We’ve been concerned for some time at the lack of progress in implementing the Board’s policy. Our concerns recently reached new heights.
We are deeply troubled that individuals in positions of power in the Faculty and Administration described in writing last month that what we believed to be the Board’s policy as, “merely a recommendation from a campus wide committee and is not in and of itself a college policy” (excerpt from the alumni DU documents posted on LinkedIn for alumni).
Given the time, resources and mentoring we’ve expended aligning our students with what we believed to be College policy (i.e. the Board of Trustees’ directives from the October 2011 Board meeting including the subject the above statement is written about), we need to either immediately realign with the folks who do set College policy if it is not the Board, or alternatively assist the College in removing whatever roadblocks remain in implementing the Board’s directives – including the institutional inertia resisting change that makes it possible for people in positions of power at Lafayette College to make statements like the above.
People not simply ignoring the Board’s directives surrounding well being in the Greek Community but actually acting in diametric opposition to the Board’s directives is particularly troubling because it places the well being of students at risk.
If you have any feedback, direction, or questions, please do not hesitate contacting us at the contact information contained within the document below. We need to work together towards the vision but first we need agreement on who sets the vision and policy of the College.
This edition of the Lafayette Magazine, with a focus on the future of higher education and the cover story about the conference Future of the American Liberal Arts College in America, which Lafayette organized with Swarthmore, contains the following references to Rho Dekes:
Fletcher Thomson ’98 writes a letter about Professor John McCartney.
A story about Tony Brooke ’91’s career in music & production, which includes memories of students performing in fraternities and his band Weird People winning Battle of the Bands in 1990 – I assume hosted by DKE on March Field. Unfortunately events like this no longer occur on campus today.
Thanks to the generosity of our alumni funders, Brothers William Brandt ’13 and Jon Simmons ’13 attended the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) at the University of Indiana earlier this summer at no cost to the students.
The NIC describes UIFI as, “UIFI is a five day institute that brings together fraternity men and sorority women from across North America to create opportunities to explore, define, and enhance their leadership skills, personal awareness, commitment to their fraternity or sorority, and grow to expect values based action from themselves and those they lead. ”
Reflecting upon their experience at UIFI, Will and Jon write,
This June my fellow DEKE brother, Jon Simmons, and I attended the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute held at Indiana University in Bloomington. For five days between the 20th and the 24th we stayed in a sorority house with fellow Greek life leaders from across the country. The Institute focused on building our leadership skills and, more importantly, on how to bring positive change to the Greek community nationwide. You see, for decades Greek life has increasingly developed a negative stereotype in the minds of those who are not involved. When I first arrived in Indiana I strongly believed that this was due to the media portraying our faults, rather than all of the good Greek life provides its members and local communities across the country. Although I still believe this to be partially to blame, the Institute helped me realize that there is far more to the problem.
Through an intense series of large general discussions, intimate group discussions, debates, and presentations, combined with team and leadership building activities, Jon and I came to realize that the problem stemmed from the Greek community itself. Greek life was originally intended to promote strong values and grow leaders for the future. Individual chapters were founded based on ideas such as scholarship, philanthropy, activism and respect. However, today, many chapters have lost sight of their founder’s original visions. All too often they have become closed-minded and centered around the social aspects of living in a fraternity or a sorority. After spending time with members of Greek life from across the nation I have come to realize that issues such as binge drinking and hazing are real problems that need to change if the community is to survive.
Although I still believe that the media has unjustly overlooked many of the benefits provided by the Greek community, such as leadership development and community service, they are not wrong to point out the mistakes that many chapters are making these days. For a while we asked ourselves, how could we possibly maintain the positive aspects of the Greek community as a whole when there are some truly misguided chapters out there?
My hope was restored during a large general session at the Institute, when everyone stood up to recite what they pledged to do upon initiation of their respective organizations. More and more it became clear how similar all of our values were, even though some of our chapters were thousands of miles apart. Spending the week with the rest of our eclectic class, it became clear that everyone in attendance was not only a leader, but is also willing to fight for their chapter and the values they swore to protect.
Though the task of changing the face of Greek life across the country is certainly daunting, I now know there are many willing to do whatever it takes to keep this tight-knit and good-intentioned community alive. I know that Jon and I are more excited than ever to get back to DKE and spread all that we’ve learned to our chapter, hopefully instilling our own excitement and optimism in others.
We look forward to helping Jon and Will take up their challenge to strengthen the fraternity and sorority community at Lafayette College. The students posted some pictures from UIFI at the undergraduate website.
Stuart Umberger, Lafayette College’s Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, encouraged us to invest in this opportunity for our students. Especially because Lafayette College uses a delayed recruitment model, it is imperative that we continue to provide these focused, intensive personal and social development opportunities for our Brothers. The College recognized and advertised this investment through the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life in this news post.