At this week’s meeting of the Student Life Committee (SLC), Greek life dominated the agenda. The committee wants to rework the process by which Greek organizations report their activities to SLC and to the campus at large.
Specifically, SLC wants to develop a standard template for all sororities and fraternities to file yearly reports with the committee. SLC would then summarize those reports for the faculty and, it was mentioned, publish those reports online for viewing by the Knox community.
Professor of Theatre and SLC Chair Elizabeth Carlin-Metz said, “People have misconceptions about Greek life at Knox. Those perceptions need to be redirected … so that they understand the difference between ‘Knox Greek’ and live-and-die-by-my-fraternity-or-sorority Greek, the attitude you might find at other institutions.”
Carlin-Metz sees the reporting process as a way to honestly communicate the successes and failures of Knox’s Greek system so that all faculty and students understand the true status of Knox Greek life.
“One of the big myths on this campus is that when anything bad happens, it must be Greek. That is simply not true,” Metz said.
Committee member and Instructor of Art Mike Godsil added that the assumptions of critics usually are not supported by data. Certainly, problems do arise, but many operate under the assumption that the Greek system is rife with problems, which is not supported.
“The more [SLC] can do to get the message out, the less controversy amongst the student and faculty there will be. The reporting process is an opportunity to get full information out … about the good things, too, like philanthropy, academics, etc.,” Godsil said.
Carlin-Metz instructed the Intrafraternity Council (IFC) to move forward with drafting a reporting template for Greek organizations. SLC suggests having a two-part document that contains both summary statistical information (i.e. average GPA, number of members, etc.), as well as a narrative summary of the particular organization’s performance over the past year.
Junior and IFC president John Cusimano stressed the importance of having a narrative portion included in the document.
“The narrative is the most important aspect. It would provide a lot more insight for the faculty, the student body and for future leaders of the particular organization,” Cusimano said.
Throughout the discussion, it was clear that all agreed that this new process will greatly benefit the college. Care was taken to stress that this is not a punitive measure — Greek organizations already report similar information to their national chapters and to SLC. Simply, SLC wants to revise the process so that communication happens more efficiently, effectively and, above all, honestly.
“Growth, development and education happen when you acknowledge faults and learn from them. That is one of the goals of this new process,” Dean of Students Debbie Southern said.
The committee then moved to discuss other agenda items. The painting of student rooms, specifically whether students want to be given the opportunity to paint their dorm rooms, came next. Members noted the undesirability of this because students may incur significant damage charges if paint were to spill onto carpet or college-owned furniture. Many expressed support for an option that would allow students to choose either chalkboard paint or a solid color for one wall of a dormitory common area.
Professor of Art Lynette Lombard stressed that these options are needed to bring more color and life into student spaces. Allowing this sort of customization allows students to establish identity, she said.
Post-baccalaureate Tim Schmeling ’11 offered a particularly innovative suggestion for bringing more personality into dorm spaces. Noting that Oberlin College has a program where students can check out art pieces from their college’s museum collection, he suggested forming a student art library that would have a similar function. Student art bought by the college, as well as art donated by graduating seniors, could be put to this purpose.
Many expressed admiration for Schmeling’s suggestion. This will ultimately be a matter for the Campus Environment Committee to pursue.