Internal, External Boards to Review Greek Life

Kristina Rodriguez ’19, Staff Writer

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Students, faculty and administrators have been recruited to serve on the Blue Ribbon Review, an internal panel that will conduct Greek life reviews in collaboration with representatives from the Fraternity and Sorority Coalition, an external consulting firm. The goal of the collaboration is to present a list of recommendations for Greek life on campus by the beginning of the spring semester.

The review is part of Strategic Plan 3, which “looks at concerns about student life,” and includes a “specific review on Greek life,” according to Becky Hammell, associate vice president for Student Leadership & Campus Engagement.

According to its website, the Fraternity and Sorority Coalition is “a national organization of all members of different Greek communities across the country.”  Representatives from the Coalition visited campus from Monday, Nov. 15 through Wednesday, Nov. 17 to meet with President Nancy Roseman, faculty, Dickinson Public Safety and both non-Greek and Greek students.

Rachel Williams ’16, a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority and the Blue Ribbon Review panel, said that many students worry that the purpose of the review is to “get rid of Greek life.” However, Williams believes that the true purpose of the review is not to rid Dickinson of Greek life, but rather to “gain a better understanding of what Greek life looks like as a part of student life on campus.”

“Almost 30 percent of Dickinson students are Greek…and that means that not just social spaces but academic spaces… are all influenced by these interdisciplinary connections that we have,” Williams said.

One aspect of Greek life that will be part of the review is diversity within the fraternities and sororities. Affordability is an aspect to joining a sorority or fraternity that holds some students back, Hammell said, though some organizations offer financial assistance to students with need.

Williams said that the Blue Ribbon Review is “trying to see what Dickinson feels like” from an outsider’s perspective. She sees this external entity as an unbiased way to answer questions such as, “What do you see when you look at Dickinson? What do interested students see? What do their parents see?”

Williams said that past reviews of Greek life at Dickinson through the strategic plan were done internally but did not result in significant changes to the Greek community. The addition of external consultants, Williams said, may yield more meaningful evaluations and recommendations for future action.

“[Individuals on the internal review boards] came up with these really great solutions and they just never really happened. The idea is that by having an external review committee that’s not Dickinson people, they’ll be able to generate some ideas that we could implement successfully,” Williams explained.

According to a summary of Dickinson’s Greek life reviews from the 1980s, “the perception in 1980 was that Greeks directed social life on campus.”

There had to be adjustments made concerning Greek life itself, such as where they would be housed on campus. The Lower Quads were created to house all Greek men together, but according to the summary, “for many who attended Dickinson in the 70s and early 80s, the Lower Quads was viewed as a pretty rough place on campus.”

In 1989 the suggestions for Greek life were “adherence to a non-hazing policy; and explore adding a ‘new co-educational Greek social organization, or a new sorority, based upon student interest.’”

In the past there have been Greek organizations that were removed from campus “because their behavior was so bad, and there were a number of those in the last decade… [they] went away because they could not live within the community and meet the community’s standards,” Hammell explained. She does not see a return of those groups “looming on the horizon.”

However, the behavior of Dickinson’s chapters over the past three years has surprised Hammell because of “how few conduct issues there [have been.]” She acknowledges that there have been some problems, but speculates that these were not as frequent or as severe compared to other institutions.

Hammell would like people to “be open to the process” of this Greek life review because she has observed that whether people are in favor or against Greek life, they are “equally closed minded.”

After Dickinson receives the report from the Blue Ribbon Review, “[the internal review board’s] job is to be able to read it, understand it and translate it in terms of …how to make [the suggestions] fit into Dickinson,” Williams stated.

Hammell predicts that the review “may highlight issues around expansion…even though we may feel comfortable with the size of Greeks that there are, we feel that this meets both the needs of our students who crave a Greek life experience with those who don’t.”