October 7, 2004

Greek Community Discusses Strippers

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Last night, Cornell’s Greek community held a heated debate about whether having strippers at events paid for by charter funds was consistent with the missions of Cornell fraternities and sororities in a packed Memorial Room of the Straight. The Tri-Council, which consists of the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Organization and the Multicultural Greek Letter Council, will vote on a resolution on the topic next Wednesday.

“Alumni at the Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Council raised their concerns [about this topic],” said Stephanie Wedekind ’05, president of Panhel. “They challenged us to discuss the issue within the community.”

The discussion consisted of a computer presentation by Nathan Richard ’05 and Amanda Stein ’04 discussing the pros and cons of having adult entertainment at Greek events, followed by an open discussion moderated by Kent Hubbell ’67, Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students.

The discussion involved members of various fraternities and sororities speaking both for and against having strippers. The debate was not cleanly split along gender lines; some males spoke out against having strippers at events, while some females came out in support of it.

One fraternity member suggested that having strippers at charter events did not reflect well on the Greek system as a whole, had the potential to attract the “wrong type of recruit” and was not even extremely effective as a tool for recruiting. A member of a sorority questioned the ability of events with strippers to “foster brotherhood.” Others objected to the sexual objectification that they associated with strippers. One fraternity member said that having strippers at events served to drive away some potential pledges.

Others argued that individual fraternities and sororities had the right to decide this issue on their own. Many argued that a fraternity or sorority having a stripper at an event would reflect only the actions of the individual organization, not the entire Greek community, within the greater Cornell community. Another argument posed in favor of having strippers was that having strippers did not entail abusing women and that stripping was a voluntary activity. One member of a sorority disputed an earlier statement, claiming that strippers did “promote sisterhood.”

The Cornell administration also expressed its opinions through Suzie Nelson, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, and Hubbell.

“I do not seek to legislate guidelines that you will not follow as a community,” Nelson said. “I only ask that you reflect on this matter, and that each chapter critically evaluate this practice.I hope that as a community you can provide each other direction by answering, ‘is this the best way for us to represent our organization?’ … This issue is not about personal freedom, it is about collective responsibility. We are responsible to uphold our ritual and ideals to the best of our ability, and we are responsible to each other, our alumni, our founders and our university.”

Hubbell echoed these views, stating that the University has consistently tried to treat students as young adults.

Hubbell said that, in this instance, it would not tell IFC what to do, but he implored students to “think long and hard, and hopefully think better of it.”

Archived article by David Hillis
Sun Senior Editor