October 28, 2010

At Meeting, Trustees to Vote On Greek Recognition Policy

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The Board of Trustees, which is convening on campus this weekend, is expected to vote on an amendment to the University’s Recognition Policy, which seeks to ban alcohol, drugs, and hazing from recruitment and new member education.

“I’m pretty certain that it’s going to pass,” said Asa Craig ’11, student-elected trustee. “There’s a lot of support on the alumni side and even some support on the student side. To me, you can’t argue with it because it’s the law and it’s in the other policies of the University.”

Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, and Dean of Students Kent Hubbell will present the amendment to the Trustees’ Committee on Student Life, which will decide whether to send it to the full Board of Trustees for consideration and voting. Leaders of the Greek community will be present at the meeting to answer questions about the changes and plans for the implementation of the amendment.

While he said that he will not oppose the amendment, Craig said that he hopes to voice his concerns regarding late-night programming on campus and a potential change in the character of student life that the recognition policy changes might create. He said he hopes to spark discussion among the trustees about these issues.

“My role is going to be to talk about the challenges and the concerns that have been raised throughout the entire semester,” Craig said. “What is social life going to be? We need to understand the potential impacts moving forward.”

Additionally, Craig said that the amendment was still vague and that the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Letter Council and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs officials still had to finalize an implementation plan. Broad terms like “recruitment” and “new member education” have yet to be defined and a timeline for implementation has not yet been finalized, Craig said.

The amendment, as it is written, says that alcohol and drugs should not be present during recruitment events or new member education, with a prospective timeline of two years for all changes to be implemented.

“I think that we have to work with the student leadership to decide how all this gets implemented,” Apgar said. “It’s easy for me to sit here and say that you can have alcohol at these kinds of events. But in practice, of course, there are all kinds of details that need to be worked through. We’re not trying to be unreasonable here.”

Apgar said that the forum and discussions that he has had with individual students have affected the character of the implementation policy as it is currently envisioned.

“I like to engage in these discussions because I learn. The reality is that I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t believe I ever will have all the answers,” Apgar said. However, he noted that the discussions, though they might impact definitions and implementation, will not affect the passage of the amendment.

Though some Greek chapters on campus have lobbied their alumni who sit on the Board to vote against the amendment, Apgar said that this lobbying is likely to be ineffective and that the amendment is still likely to pass.

“Society has changed. Drinking behavior has changed. [The Trustees] will tell you about a time where alcohol was not a part of recruitment. Period. They would probably be horrified if we time warped them from a party they were at in 1957 to a party this weekend,” Apgar said.

Allen Miller ’11, president of the IFC, is one of the Greek leaders who will be present at the Committee on Student Life meeting Friday. He said that, although he is not presenting, he will answer questions posed by the committee.

“The bullet points [in the recognition policy] themselves are very vague,” Miller said. “[The Trustees are] going to want to know what the Tri-Council is doing to meet these points. I think we will have some questions relating to the specifics of implementation.”

Nora Allen ’11, president of the Panhellenic Council, said she is looking forward to the process of implementation and what it will mean for sororities on campus. She said she has spoken to alumni and students who regret that the only opportunities to get to know their sorority sisters was through alcohol.

“People wished they had done more sisterhood time,” she said. “This actually supports what new members want and that’s kind of interesting.”

Under the Panhellenic implementation plan, sororities will have to plan one dry social event per week, and the council would be providing programming on Thursday nights to ease the pressure of having to fill time that was previously occupied with fraternity mixers.

Though Craig, the student trustee, said that the recognition amendment may be the focus of students on campus during the Trustee meetings, he also noted that he is also looking forward to addressing other pressing University issues with the Board this weekend.

Craig said that this quarterly meeting will not involve voting as much as it will involve discussions of previous University initiatives, including the mental health initiatives that were implemented earlier year. Craig said that he looks forward to discussing the effectiveness of the Caring Community program and the direction the University should take moving forward.

“In comparison to other meetings, there is no one huge topic to vote on. In the spring, we were going over Reimagining Cornell as well as accepting the reports done around the University,” he said. “This meeting is more of an intermediary ground to hear whats been done, to hear updates about whats been done, what we’ve done over the summer, and where we are going with a lot of these different initiatives.”

Original Author: Juan Forrer