For the first time in at least five years, the initial theme housing recommendations from the Residential Quality of Life Committee (ResQual) made it through Student Senate and the Student Life Committee (SLC) unscathed, according to ResQual chair and sophomore Katie Wrenn.
Furthermore, the theme housing approval process took place in the midst of an ongoing debate in SLC about the role of Greek organizations on campus, and in the faculty about whether Gentlemen of Quality (GQ) should be allowed to take the next step toward local fraternity status.
The faculty voted Monday to allow GQ to seek local fraternity status. GQ can now move forward with the proper procedures, and the final vote of approval will be taken in SLC. There was some mention of the fact that GQ was given a theme house and Professor of Mathematics and SLC chair Dennis Schneider said SLC is still in the process of investigating the issue.
While ResQual had in mind throughout the application and interview process for theme housing that GQ [was] a local colony, the members of GQ were treated as Knox students before Greek affiliates.
“We first wanted to judge them because they were students,” Wrenn said. “I think something that [ResQual] agrees on is the fact that that we don’t really like the way Greeks are sometimes treated in terms of not seeing them as students first.”
Wrenn added that they did not expect so much opposition from SLC, since the question of GQ was not a major issue with the Senate.
“We’ve said very clearly that the college cannot get into the business of providing houses for Greeks, and I think the faculty would be very upset by this,” Schneider said at the last winter term SLC meeting. “This is just not what we’re supposed to be about, and there’s no way that the community is not going to know that that’s a Greek house.”
According to Wrenn, the SLC debate about GQ may not have been so heated if the committee did not have other ongoing agenda items that are, either directly or indirectly, related to GQ.
Regardless of the controversy about GQ, SLC passed the recommendations with ease last week, and it did so with the blessing of its former chair, Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Carlin-Metz, who is on sabbatical this term. She proposed that the theme housing approved by Senate also be approved by SLC as per usual, for one year, and the committee should commit later to looking into the issue of Greek students who apply for theme housing.
That being said, it is probable that SLC will return to this debate later in the term and that ResQual will have a say in the debate.
Wrenn said that, though her committee has yet to discuss how they would approach that, ResQual has a commitment to the idea that students are students first.
“Students are all students before they’re anything else,” Wrenn said. “I understand the faculty is concerned with the Greek letters being attached to the house, but I don’t think that a group of people affiliated with the same Greek organization should ever be denied the right to apply for something because of the fact that they’re Greek.”
Maxwell Galloway-Carson contributed to this report.