At one point during an executive session of the Interfraternity Council meeting Wednesday, a member stood up and asked, “Is there anyone here who doubts that the University is trying to shrink the Greek system?” All members in the room stayed silent with their hands at their sides.
This closed executive session of the IFC — where no administrators were present — was part of a concerted effort by Greek leaders to respond to the University’s new crackdown on drinking in the Greek system. Allen Miller ’11, president of the IFC, stressed the need for caution in their efforts, stating in an e-mail to chapter representatives before the open meeting that they should stay quiet about the changes until the closed session at the end.
During the public IFC meeting, rather than discussing the University’s proposed changes — which include imposing a dry rush week and excluding freshmen from many open parties and mixers — members talked about Greek Week and philanthropy events.
Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, was present during the open meeting and made a statement to the body at the end.
“I know that when when you don’t have intimate knowledge of a proposition, things really get skewed,” he said. “We’re not as cold and calculating as we get portrayed. I want you guys to show up next week [to the forum regarding proposed Greek changes] and represent yourselves well.”
As Apgar walked out of the Memorial Room, Justin Potter ’11 stood up to question Apgar’s commitment to the fraternity system’s current state of self-governance.
“I was going to question whether non-negotiable demands [on the part of the University] promote self-governance,” he said after the meeting.
After Apgar left, the closed meeting began. The session included a discussion regarding how to deal with the proposed changes and looking into the University’s supposed intentions.
Throughout the meeting, there was concern that the University was unfairly targeting the Greek system and that the changes would lead to chapters closing on campus.
“When we get in trouble now, we don’t go through an IFC board. We go to a University-type board. All of our chapters are going to be dropping like flies,” Potter said.
In addition to discussing the Universiy’s intentions, members of the IFC proposed strategies of how to deal with these intentions.
One option brought up was the feasibility of consulting with members of the Board of Trustees. Some IFC members hoped to be able to appeal to the Board, as several trustees were members of Cornell’s fraternity system.
Others, however, disagreed.
“The Board of Trustees is a group of old men whose fraternity days are so far behind them that they think the Greek system of today has somehow gone out of control and they need to bring it back,” one member said.
Additionally, during the session, IFC members circulated a petition for fraternity presidents to sign, which they said might be used at the administration’s public forum, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
The members encouraged all chapter presidents to bring their chapters en masse to the forum.
Apgar, in an interview after the meeting, also encouraged students to come to the forum in large numbers. He said that the forum on the might “show a need for us to continue to have forums.”
Apgar said he was committed to including students in the change process by holding public discussions.
“We certainly want [students] to be a part of the decision process to make the environment around them as safe as possible,” he said.
Apgar said that community involvement has so far led to concrete changes in the policy.
When asked what was accomplished through the student input, Apgar said, “We have opened up to the idea that they need time to remove alcohol and hazing from their new member education process.”
Miller, the IFC president, said he hopes to get the University thinking about the far-reaching effects of the proposed changes.
“The proposal will lead to heavy consequences for Greeks and non-Greeks,” Miller said. “We are talking about a big culture change.”
Original Author: Juan Forrer