What are students expecting from Byerly?

Samantha Praman-Linton

Since the announcement of her role as Lafayette’s 17th President in January, President Alison Byerly has repeatedly said that one of her main focuses while in office is to foster a closer relationship with students. She even went so far as to hold a student question -and-answer session during the past spring semester to acquaint herself with the community.

This fall, the students are voicing their opinions.

Shehtaz Huq ‘14 would like to see Byerly promote issues of “compositional diversity, diversity of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion” on campus. She believes that groups such as Kaleidoscope, Quest and ALF have made major strides in the recent past and that this gives Byerly “the opportunity to collaborate with administrators like [Dean of Intercultural Development] John McKnight and [Associate Dean of Intercultural Development/Director of Gender & Sexuality Programs] Gene Kelly.”

One major change to Lafayette tradition Byerly has instituted in her short time as president is the rescheduling of the convocation ceremony that welcomes every class entering Lafayette. Convocation was traditionally held on the first day of orientation when only first-years and a limited amount of the Lafayette student body were on campus. Starting with this year, convocation will be held the last day of orientation.

President Byerly cited a desire to acknowledge some of the more storied Lafayette traditions, such as unveiling the Marquis de Lafayette’s sword.

Greg Ly ‘16, served as an Orientation Assistant and said that the switch occurred because Byerly “wanted to bring the community closer together” and give the chance for upperclassmen and alumni to attend the ceremony. Ly believes that the switch was a success and that “compared to past convocations, this year’s was a more formal event and will become a new Lafayette tradition that people can look forward to and be excited about.”

Delta Upsilon President Zach Lappen ‘14 provided a Greek perspective on what students want to see Byerly accomplish. He commended the new president for admitting in last week’s issue of The Lafayette that Greek life has been under attack in recent years.

“It’s pretty great to hear her acknowledge that it’s been a problem in the past, that there’s been attacks on Greek life,” Lappen said in a phone interview. “It means a lot to hear that from the upper administration. We’re looking forward to working with her, she seems to have it down pretty straight in terms of representing fraternities and sororities in establishing a great community.”

In last week’s issue, President Byerly said regarding Greek organizations: “They feel defensive, they feel embattled. I can certainly understand, looking at the history, why that is, but I think that my goal is not to see the administration at all as in opposition to them.”

Lappen also said that he’d like to see some of the policies on social gatherings relaxed a bit.

“I would like to see social gatherings in the open and allowed,” he said. “So far the social outlets are only for students over 21, and not much to do for the other students. I know that in other schools there’s more to do here than here at Lafayette. I’d like to see the policies a little more lax and for students to go out and have fun in a safe way.”

He also echoed some students’ desires to see more interaction between the president and the Lafayette community.

“I’d like to see her work to interact with students a little bit more than a bridge between the administration and students at the college, so that they can interact as one cohesive group to a better degree.”

 Reporting contributed by Michael A. Kowaleski