The round room of the Ford Center for Fine Arts (CFA) moved beyond standing room only, to floor space only, for Monday’s faculty meeting.
Junior Randy Geary, president of Inter-Fraternity Council, was among the students in attendance. Within the first ten minutes, he addressed an issue that turned out to be pertinent to the rest of the meeting. He said he, and other students who have approached him in the last week, were disturbed by two batches of posters recently displayed on campus. The first, printed on bright orange paper and posted along the admissions tour route, read, “Frat is Greek for rape.” Geary is not sure when these were posted, but says they were taken down the morning of Monday, April 1.
“I wanted to make the faculty aware that students expressed to me they don’t feel like Knox is their home anymore. They don’t feel welcome. One student even told me they feel unsafe,” said Geary. “I wanted to make sure the environment that has been created is addressed by the faculty.”
The second batch, Geary suspects, was posted around lunchtime the same day. These larger, white posters depicted a large boot stomping on symbols representing each of the Greek organizations, and bore the message “There is a debate.”
Geary said he talked to one of the makers of these posters who told him they were meant to express that there is a debate on campus about the role of Greek life, but that Greek organizations are going to be stomped out.
“Some of the faculty members agree these posters were unclear,” said Geary.
Later in the meeting, the faculty passed, by a 52-21 vote, a resolution stating its position on Greek Organizations.
To introduce the resolution, Associate Professor of Biology Stuart Allison, member of the Faculty and Staff Committee (FASCom) said, “We [FASCom] tried to craft a compromise. We need to move on at this point. I don’t know as it matters whether this resolution is passed. Ninety percent of you already know how you’re going to vote, so there’s no need for debate.”
Associate Professor of History Konrad Hamilton responded, “You said you don’t know if it matters if this resolution is passed. In that case, can I persuade you to withdraw it? If so, I’ll withdraw my amendment.”
When Allison answered that he would not withdraw the resolution, Hamilton went on to say he believes the first point of the resolution implies that the faculty is siding with Greek Organizations
Point one of the FASCom resolution states:
“The Faculty affirms the place of Greek Organizations throughout history of the College and in the extracurricular life of current Knox Students who elect to join; the affirmation is based on the view of Greek Organizations, as ones which draw on their own traditions and mutual regard for their members, committed to campus and community service in ways consistent with the educational mission of the College and expectations of appropriate conduct.
The Faculty declares that it has no intention to take any actions directed at the elimination of the Greek system.”
Hamilton believes the faculty needs to adopt a more neutral stance.
Student Senate President senior Brad Middleton disagreed. He said during the meeting that he believes the faculty’s recent decision to call a temporary halt to Greek expansion has rendered it necessary for it to affirm its position. In different circumstances, Middleton said, such an affirmation “would be like affirming the place of Old Main on campus,” but he believes that in this situation members of Greek organization deserve an explanation.
“They have been rendered voiceless,” said Middleton. “The three local [Greek] colonies didn’t do anything wrong, but they suffered the brunt of it. We had to look in their eyes and tell them all their hard work was out the window. They deserve an explanation.”
Junior Alex Argyelan, a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), also stated the opinion that the Faculty cannot pretend to be impartial in this matter.
“You can’t not take a side,” Argyelan said, explaining that individuals are either for or against the proposition of limiting Greek expansion. “We, [the members of TKE], empathize with the people working to get [a Greek organization] started in addition to academics.”
Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies Magali Roy-Fequiere also objected to the original FASCom resolution, but for different reasons.
“It makes it sound like we’re groveling,” Roy-Fequiere said. “I’m a black woman, I don’t grovel.”
Roy-Fequiere was in favor of Hamilton’s amendment, however.
Associate Professor of Psychology Tim Kasser was also concerned about the way in which the faculty’s intentions and apologies were presented in the original resolution, particularly in the third point, which said, “The faculty regrets the acrimonious tone of some of the recent rhetoric coming from faculty, staff and students; the Faculty also acknowledges that the scope and intent of some views put forth by various individuals and constituencies have been misunderstood and misrepresented — all of which is inimical to maintaining the social fabric of the campus as a community of engaged teachers and learners. The Faculty also regrets that any recent rhetoric may have been construed as biased against particular groups on campus.”
“It weakens the apology to the point that it’s not an apology anymore,” said Kasser. “It’s too weak given the damage.”
Professor of Economics Steve Cohn also liked Hamilton’s amendment, but proposed an amendment to the amendment. The main points Cohn wanted to make were that the faculty wishes to clarify its intent, the matter requires further study, and the faculty’s previous vote was “not a Trojan horse for the elimination of the Greek system.”
Cohn felt the language of the FASCom resolution was too strong, and said he feels that citing the history of the College and Greek organizations sets a dangerous precedent.
Cohn and Hamilton’s combined amendments passed by a 34-31 vote.
Early in the meeting, the Faculty voted to limit discussion on the resolution and its amendment to 15 minutes. Shortly before voting on whether to pass the original resolution without any amendments, some faculty members wanted to take a vote to over-rule facilitator Associate Professor of Mathematics Andrew Leahy’s interpretation of the rule allowing limited discussion.
This motion failed, however, in a 37-26 vote.
Ultimately, the original FASCom resolution, without amendments, was passed by a 52-21 vote.