As concerns about the Knox Greek system have been brought to the attention of students and faculty, so has the need for a way to review the Greek system. On October 1, 2008, a Greek Task Force (GTF) was formed “to examine the procedures and institutional structures that govern and support Greek life,” as stated in the Greek Task Force Report. The report is available to all students and faculty via an email sent out by Dean Breitborde on Feb. 4.
A question that arose in the formation of this task force was whether or not it would be fair and balanced in its representation of Greek students, non-Greek students, and faculty. The members of the task force include Dean of Students Xavier Romano, Interfraternity Council President senior Randy Geary, Students Against Sexism in Society President and non-Greek senior Rachael Goodwin-Williams, as well as professors from the departments of biology, economics, psychology, English and music.
The report examines the definition of hazing, the process through which a colony is formed and approved, what goes on at the meetings of Greek colonies that are trying to become a sorority or fraternity, the number of Greeks at Knox and other ACM colleges, and the recruitment process for fraternities and sororities. The report also expresses faculty concerns about the Greek system and those who support it. For the former, issues of exclusivity were raised, especially in regards to “the ‘secret’ nature of Greek organizations and how this seems antithetical to the goals of Knox College.” Greek system supporters indicate in the report that Greek life gives the college diversity and “provides one of the best opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.”
Prior to an Interfraternity Council (IFC) meeting on the evening of February 3, Romano and Dean Larry Breitborde held a short meeting to debrief some members of the Greek community about the GTF report and the fact that it would soon be available to the entire campus.
“This is a community issue and people are going to want to see this,” Breitborde said at the beginning of the meeting. “There are three appendices that include emails and interviews between members of the task force and others. This appendix will not be included. The second appendix relates to budget and the third appendix relates to ACM colleges with or without the Greek system.” Breitborde also said of the report, “what it shows is that there’s no relation between Greek life and sexual assault on campus.”
Breitborde told the room of Greek students that he knew they had “felt pretty beat up by this process,” and that he thought that feeling was justified. “I’ve been a little beat up by this business,” he said. “Don’t let having been beat up in the past keep you from moving forward in the future.” He mentioned that in his fourteen years at Knox he has made five proposals, and that only one of those proposals has been approved, including proposals to move the colonies forward.
Jennifer Templeton, Greek Task Force Chair, said, “The task force worked together on the report from start to finish. Of course, we all had different points of view, but we all had the same goal: to improve life at the college for all students, Greek and non-Greek.” Templeton also confirmed that the GTF is not a permanent installation. “We’re done,” she said.
“Yes, I do [think both sides were represented equally]. We had both sides, plus some in the middle,” she said. On the same subject, Breitborde said, “It’s balanced, but its general thrust is supportive.”
Near the end of the report, the GTF lists its recommendations for the Greek system on campus. These recommendations include a revision of how colonies are formed and approved, suggesting that colonies must be approved not only by members of the Student Life Committee (SLC) but also by faculty. The faculty will also have a voice in regard to the future stages of a colony.
Suggestions were made about creating a social venue on campus for all students. The report states, “The campus needs a designated social space for ALL students and organizations to host parties. Interestingly, the same recommendation was made in the 1988 GTF report.” Further suggestions include a revision of the recruitment process and the necessity of Greek faculty advisors.
The fifth recommendation from the GTF is “Reporting of Hazing,” in which the GTF writes, “It may be beneficial for Knox College to create a pamphlet about what is and is not hazing and how to go about reporting it and give this pamphlet to all students, seeing that the Knox College statement is in regards to ‘all campus organizations including Greek organizations.’”
The sixth recommendation regards instating anti-rape workshops to “be mandated with each initiation of a fraternity’s pledge class.” The report continues, “Clearly, rape does not only happen in fraternities. However, in light of the institutional benefits granted to fraternities by Knox College (i.e. fraternity houses free of Residential Advisor supervision) that increase the risk of sexual assault, we do not find it inappropriate to mandate a rape prevention program to counteract these elevated risk factors.”
In response to how the report might be received and how faculty might move forward in the future with the changes, Romano said, “The faculty have agreed right now that they’re not going to take any action. I think if there’s a hurricane, it will be known. In the battles that have been fought over this, there’s been a lot of bloodshed.” He also posed the larger question of, “How do we move collectively forward?”
This report is an edited version of an original version that came out on January 31, and the letters of students regarding their experiences in Greek life on campus have been removed from the report “in the absence of explicit permission from all respondents to share their remarks,” writes Dean Breitborde in his one-page preface to the report.
The full text of the edited report can be found at www.theknoxstudent.com.