This week’s edition of The Lafayette includes the article Scrutiny continues for underground groups by Julie Depenbrock ’13 covering the topic of a policy under consideration by the Board of Lafayette College:

Over the past several months, the Faculty Governance Committee, in conjunction with Student Government, has been drafting a proposal and holding open meetings on what many  have considered a divisive issue. “It’s pretty split,” StuGov President Michael Prisco ‘14 said. “Some people like it.  Some people don’t.” Prisco will be present for the trustees’ Saturday meeting, the only student permitted at the four-hour summit.

Board of Trustees Chair Edward Ahart ‘69 hopes the work done these past eight months can ensure “all organizations have the same training and are subject to the same rules and policies. Another aim: “doing all that we can to allow students to freely associate with whatever organizations they are interested in.”

As I’ve written to the College and publicly in other forums such as this LinkedIn discussion on the topic, a new policy addressing underground groups is unnecessary and although well intentioned, misguided. Still, if a new policy is deemed necessary, I am hopeful it will thread the needle between promoting student safety, strengthening the Greek community, and allowing students to explore their personal and social identities in a way consistent with our Mission as a residential institution of higher learning.

Make no mistake about it, unrecognized fraternities and sororities are bad for the Greek community for many reasons.  However, instead of taking a punitive and preventative approach, we should be working towards a broader framework that is driven by student demand, interest, and ability to advance the Mission of the College. Such a framework needs to provide for the closing of groups on campus as well as the transitioning of groups onto campus.

Just last week a student requested information about “Chartering a Black Greek Letter Organization” from the perspective of social justice on campus through his work with Kaleidoscope.  Notably, such expansion is supported by the current Greek Community on campus because both IFC and PHC included in their strategic plan recognition of 2 new cultural fraternities/sororities alongside recognition of 1 NPC sorority and 3 NIC fraternities.

Couple this with students applying for more than 5 different fraternities or sororities to be recognized on campus over the past year and there’s clearly sufficient demand and a need from students on campus today to re-open the recognition process to at least let students apply for recognition and queue up for when IAGGL completes their important work by May 2014. Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees’ continuing moratorium on recognition of new fraternities and sororities make this impossible.

 

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