The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Why do we have Greek life accreditation?

Much+of+the+accreditation+work+takes+place+during+the+summer%2C+requiring+a+significant+time+commitment+from+fraternity+and+sorority+members.
Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette
Much of the accreditation work takes place during the summer, requiring a significant time commitment from fraternity and sorority members.

Lafayette’s fraternity and sorority chapters wrapped up presentations for their annual accreditation process last week after changes were implemented to the process this year. This process, which requires fraternities and sororities to produce lengthy reports, has Greek leaders wondering why the process exists to begin with.

“By isolating [the accreditation process] to different fraternity and sorority organizations, it seems more like a ‘why are you here’ [and] not an overall ‘why is fraternity and sorority life here,” Charlie Berman ’24, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity president, said. “It seems more like we have to prove ourselves worthy versus [show] what we have to offer.”

During accreditation, chapters are assessed on how they meet the priorities and standards provided by the Fraternity & Sorority Life program, facing a possible loss of chapter recognition if they do not meet such standards.

However, the college has not always used this evaluation system. The current accreditation process arose from a reevaluation of Greek life and its impact on campus writ large in 2013.

In 2008, an unrelated Student Government Ad Hoc Committee on Residence Life released a final report that pointed out concerns that Greek life goals were not consistently being met.

“[Fraternities and sororities] have found it challenging over time to adhere to college and national policies related to new-member education and risk management,” the report reads. “In addition, fraternities and sororities are constantly in the position of defending themselves against charges of elitism, a lack of diversity, and discriminatory membership-intake practices.”

The committee found in its report that the contributions of fraternities and sororities to the college’s mission required further study, leading to the establishment of the Implementation and Assessment Group on Greek Life in 2009.

“Part of the reason the group was formed was to determine whether or not Lafayette was going to continue to have Greek life,” Chaplain Alex Hendrickson, a member of the working group, said. “When the determination was made that we were going to have Greek life, it was determined that we needed to have a stricter accreditation.”

The current accreditation process was implemented beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.

Now, fraternities and sororities submit an annual report and conduct a presentation to a panel of college stakeholders, ultimately being rated and provided feedback to determine their standing with the college.

The accreditation process has faced criticism, especially for its length.

Tyler Osipower ‘24, president of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, said that he and his fraternity put in close to 100 hours of work on the report and 10 to 15 hours on the presentation.

Shreya Raizada ‘25, president of the Alpha Phi sorority, noted that her sorority took 10 hours to prepare a 40-page report. Berman said that his fraternity’s report was 35 pages long.

Berman said that the accreditation process “feels like it’s a remnant of” the anti-Greek life sentiment that swept the campus in 2021.

Raizada also claimed there was a lack of objectivity regarding some standards, which made preparation difficult.

“During our meetings, I was told it’s what we take away from the guidelines,” she said. “It just makes it difficult … because we don’t know if they’re going to perceive it [in the way we intend].”

Although Osipower did mention the length of the process, he was supportive of such rigor.

“I understand why people see the difficulty in it, but … [the Greek life] organizations we have here are some of the best of the best and that is because Lafayette holds them to a high standard,” he said.

All fraternities and sororities received accreditation last year – the Delta Tau Delta and Chi Phi fraternities and the Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi sorority received “accreditation with distinction,” a rating that means the organization went beyond the established accreditation standards.

Taking these concerns in mind, Jake Bates, associate director of fraternity and sorority life, has changed the accreditation system to make it more concise and objective this year.

“I changed the process because the work the chapters were doing for accreditation went outside the realm of best practices in requiring an extensive portfolio of information, a presentation, and a [question and answer session],” he wrote in an email.

In a later message, Bates wrote that the original scoring system was vague and “left too much room for bias,” and has been changed to a scaling system.

Additionally, chapters now only have to provide direct proof of their achievements during presentations, increasing the focus on an overall assessment of the chapters, their successes and areas of opportunity, according to Bates.

Osipower thinks that these new standards take a lot of work off of the hands of the Greek life community while maintaining the high standards Lafayette expects out of Greek Life.

“Frankly, I think it’s a win-win,” he said.

Disclaimer: Sports Editor Charlie Berman ’24 did not contribute writing or reporting.

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About the Contributors
William Gutiérrez
William Gutiérrez, Staff Culture Writer
bang energy afficionado.
Patrick Hansell
Patrick Hansell, Staff Photographer

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