The Greek Crossroads: Board of Trustees needs to pick a path

Students+attend+an+open+forum+on+the+IAGGL+report+on+April+21.

Students attend an open forum on the IAGGL report on April 21.

Michael Kowaleski

Photo by Michael A. Kowaleski ‘14

Students attend an open forum on the IAGGL report on April 21.
Students attend an open forum on the IAGGL report on April 21.

Lafayette once again stands at the Greek crossroads.

Right or wrong, the Lafayette community expected a draft of the IAGGL report to provide answers on the future of Greek life. Instead, a report that the committee probably intended to placate everyone ended up leaving all parties just as agitated as they were in 2011.

At a recent open forum for students, Annette Diorio parried questions from Greeks for the better part of two hours. The Greeks’ responses varied from thoughtful and articulate (“We might feel attacked because those of us who are rising seniors have been listening to how Greek life’s been under fire the past four years, you know?” one member reasoned) to entitled and whining (“Why is this our problem, that no one else can find a social life?” jabbed one Greek member). They were a collection of students who felt persecuted, and they responded accordingly in their own way.

But there are community members like Professor James Woolley who feel that IAGGL is “a report defending Greek life.”

“Our job is to foster and monitor students’ academic growth,” Woolley said. “This [report] suggests that Greek life stunts that growth, and they’re saying that’s okay.”

It’s an arguable point. While there is a slight difference, the gap between fraternity members and non-affiliated men’s GPA is .06 of a point, and sorority GPAs and unaffiliated GPAs are identical. Then again, the report itself leaves a lot to be desired. It isn’t very well written, the metrics are shaky at best and lazy at worst (see: “IAGGL metrics don’t fly,” April 18 issue), and it fails to say anything of much value.

The report concludes that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Greek life, yet says more data is needed to justify expanding Greek life via inviting other organizations on campus. Why, after four years, don’t we have that data? What more data do we need? These questions remain unanswered, hidden behind the smoky excuse of an accreditation system.

“I would feel differently if I felt there was a strategy,” Woolley said.

Diorio, nominated committee spokesperson, said the college doesn’t have the data to support that there would be a sufficient level of student interest.

“I think we have all the information we need to justify expansion,” Delta Kappa Epsilon advisor Mike De Lisi said.

No kidding. Newsflash: there’s plenty of interest, there are at least three fairly healthy frats waiting to return. Conversely, it’s just as obvious that there are students who are opposed to the expansion of Greek life. None of this needs three more years of “research” to support.

I consider myself neutral in the Greek life debate. I have friends in Greek life and I’ve seen its advantages (confirmed social scene, connections, etc.), but I understand the problems that can stem from Greek culture (Alabama sororities, fraternity hazing, etc.). Instead of arguing for either side, I’m asking for something simpler: Board of Trustees, just make a decision already.

It’s no secret that Lafayette College is in the middle of an identity crisis, and that it’s been for years now. We’ve made multiple seemingly contradictory changes regarding athletics, demographics, and student life. Greek life is just another confusion.

It isn’t fair to fraternity and sorority members to undergo scrutiny for three years only to come out the other side with a lukewarm response of, “yeah, we didn’t find anything condemning per se, but we’re going to wait until you jump through more hoops before we’ll maybe think about the possibility of letting you expand.” It’s not fair to non-Greek students who feel like their own social lives hang in the balance, directly affected by what happens to fraternities and sororities.

It definitely isn’t fair to people who are sick of the seemingly never-ending conversation. It isn’t fair to Diorio, who was tossed into the committee after Celestino Limas’s abrupt departure. During the forums, she fielded frustratingly inane, repetitive questions from students and alumni. The patience-sucking dialogue was thrust on her due to what is essentially inaction from her superiors.

The Board of Trustees need to decide what course Lafayette is going to set. If the best direction for the college is without Greek life, rip the band-aid off already. If the Board feels that jeopardizing alumni donations and stoking student discontent would discourage such a decision, then double down and expand.

But don’t make Lafayette fester in limbo, stuck with an awkward number of Greek organizations and perpetuating an identity crisis. You can’t make everyone happy, so grow a backbone and make a decision.