Following a heated debate, the Association of Student Representatives approved a funding request for transportation to and from Concert for the Cure, leading to questions regarding the privileges afforded to currently sanctioned Greek organizations.
In its eighth year, Concert for the Cure, a non-profit organization, has raised more than $125,000 for the American Cancer Society, specifically for Camp Discovery. This year marked the biggest turnout for the event, raising an estimated $20,000 in 2013 alone.
Details of the Debate
Brittany Hjalmquist, member of the sanctioned group Gamma Chi Delta and event chair for Concert for the Cure, requested $1,570 to fund transportation to and from the venue Cowboy’s Dancehall. This included $1,300 for bus rental and Trinity University police officer compensation, priced at $270.
ASR granted the amount through their personal account, rather than the general student activity fee fund. According to Evan Lewis, sophomore ASR senator, this is an important distinction.
“ASR’s personal account is for the internal functioning of ASR and anything ASR chooses to do with it,” Lewis said. “The student activity fee is there for the students at large.”
Funding requests involving transportation for Greek organizations is also specifically outlined in ASR’s constitution.
“We rewrote the constitution last year specifically so Greek organizations could not petition ASR for travel fees because we don’t feel like it’s a good use of student activity fee money,” Lewis said. “We were afraid that if we funded [transportation costs for Concert for the Cure] through the student activity fee, we would run into problems down the road because this is the one year that [the Gammas] are allowed to do that.”
According to Joe Moore, president of ASR, the Gamma’s status as a currently off-campus organization is what made the funding request possible.
“Since they’re not a registered Greek [organization], they came as individuals. Technically, what they were asking for, as a group of individual students, they could theoretically ask for that,” Moore said. “I was personally okay with this coming from the individual, as long as there was a clear designation of them next year coming to us as an organization, and as an organization, they cannot do this.”
According to Moore, ASR granted Concert for the Cure under the premise of co-sponsoring the event and receiving publicity, but, due to time constraints, the ASR name was not included on any of the event paraphernalia.
A similar proposal also passed through ASR in the fall. Last semester, at the Nov. 12 meeting, Greek Council submitted a funding proposal requesting reimbursement for the increased price for the presence of a TUPD security officer at events.
“I had to table the Greek Council debate just so we could negotiate with TUPD, and there were a good amount of senators who voted against that,” Moore said. “Some of which were like Kimi Siu [a Gamma], who voted against the Greek life measure but were supportive of the Gamma measure … She was very vocal, even though it was very similar to the Greek life measure.”
According to Moore, there are six Gammas on ASR and eight members of ASR who belong to organizations that are currently sanctioned. During the discussion involving Concert for the Cure, all of the ASR senators associated with Gammas abstained from voting.
Gabrielle Shayeb, ASR senior senator, is one of the dual members, and says the purpose of the event is taken into consideration when reviewing Greek-affiliated funding requests.
“If the ‘Zeta Zeta Zeta’s’ ask for money [for transportation] as a club, they probably wouldn’t get it because they’re Greek and because, usually, it needs to benefit the entire student body,” Shayeb said. “If it’s a Greek organization trying to put on an event like this, that is socially geared, at Cowboy’s Dancehall, it is seen as a social event, so they can’t get the funding.”
While Shayeb remembers that last year’s Concert for the Cure included a social aspect, she says Gamma’s off-campus standing altered the attitudes surrounding the event this year.
“It’s a social philanthropic event so it was a neat experience to be on it purely from the philanthropic side because usually when Gammas do it, it’s the few weeks leading up to Bid Day–It’s like the last rush experience, and you get to see girls that you’ve been talking to all year,” Shayeb said.
Due to the nature of the venue, Shayeb also addressed the event’s association with alcohol. “It’s not supposed to be an alcohol-oriented event at all,” Shayeb said.
Still, Amy Walton, founder and CEO of Concert for the Cure, as well as a Trinity graduate and Gamma alumna, said the buses did act as a deterrent for drunk driving, in addition to their other benefits.
“We thought, five years ago, that it not only provided them [students who had been drinking] with a safe ride home… but it would bring more people there and have more ways to engage them,” Walton said.
Along with the tickets sold on campus to students, the funding request also served as a way to connect the event to Trinity.
“It’s not necessarily that we needed the funds, but it’s kind of a way to get Trinity involved,” Walton said. “So, really, it was more of our way of partnering with Trinity rather than a ‘we need the money’ kind of thing.”
Prior to the event, confusion surrounded club’s privileges regarding lettered paraphernalia.
“We’re not allowed to wear [our jerseys] anywhere on campus or off campus except for community service activities which we participate in, which are approved by CCI,” said Sam Couch, junior and member of the sanctioned SPURS sorority.
Shayeb pointed out that specific consideration was given to the Gamma’s request to wear their jerseys at the event.
“[CCI] was very supportive. They let us wear our jerseys. It was very strict because they didn’t want anyone thinking that we were getting on campus before our time,” Shayeb said. “We couldn’t leave the bus with jerseys on, and so we changed there and took them off before we returned [to campus]. CCI did let up on that, and they were very gracious.”
However, according to McGlamory and Thompson, CCI cannot regulate what students wear off campus.
“Off campus, we encourage you to wear Trinity paraphernalia but you can wear whatever you’d like,” McGlamory said. “So, the members of Gamma Chi Delta chose to wear their jerseys at the event.”
Jamie Thompson, Director of Campus and Community Involvement, concurred.
“The organizations are able to wear their jerseys off campus, whether it be at a service event or otherwise.”
Before their suspension, the SPURS used to hold a philanthropy event each fall called Fall Frolics. The event included a talent show that members of other organizations could participate in, and it raised money to donate to St. PJ’s Children’s Home. However, the sorority did not petition to hold the event this past fall.
Couch clarified via text message: “No, we did not petition. It was not seen as an option. However, we still decided as an organization to do other pre-approved community service events in order to stay involved with the community.”
According to Michael Fischer, vice president for faculty and student affairs, after the four groups’ (Gamma Chi Delta, SPURS Sorority, the Bengal Lancers and Chi Delta Tau) initial suspensions, a letter informed the groups about the possibility of hosting events.
“All of the suspended organizations back in May got this letter from me telling them about possible pathways to reinstatement and one of the clauses was, ‘While your organization is suspended, you will be allowed to participate as a group in limited, non-social, community-oriented activities or projects,’” Fischer said. “That’s my main thing, just to make sure that it meets those criteria.”
Members of CCI specifically discussed Concert for the Cure’s continuation.
“Concert for the Cure was brought up and because it was such a fundraising and philanthropic event, we decided that the event in itself could happen,” said Briana McGlamory, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life. “However, the Gamma Chi Delta name on the event and on the publicity wasn’t allowed to happen. The other groups, even Gammas, cannot host events social in nature during the suspension.”
Despite the high level of involvement and donations, some Concert for the Cure attendees were less aware of the philanthropic benefits the event afforded.
“The reason I am going to classify it in my opinion as a social event is because I didn’t know how much of my ticket price was going towards the foundation,” said Esteban Rodriguez-Vasquez, first year and member of H.O.P.E. Hall. “Instead it was more like, ‘Hey, there’s a bus. Want to go dancing?’ rather than, ‘Hey, do you want to support the cure?’”
Looking to the Future
Moving forward, the focus is now on the reinstatement plans themselves and the review process. Shortly after the groups’ suspension, the administration suggested an appeals system that would include faculty, staff and students.
David Tuttle, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, wrote in an email on Apr. 2, 2012:
“In the near future the administration will convene a group including students, alumni, staff, faculty and trustees to review issues related to the monitoring of clubs, the nature of organizational events, the fraternity and sorority calendar, and more, in order to put procedures in place that will strengthen fraternity and sorority life at Trinity University while leading to more respectful treatment of students.”
However, once the formal appeals process commenced, the review went in a different direction.
“At the time, that was more of me assuming that would be the process. Once the appeals were made, and different stakeholders got involved, it took on a different nature,” Tuttle said. “In a lot of ways though, that has still happened.”
However, questions remain about the degree of student involvement in the process. When asked about Greek Council’s involvement in the reinstatement process, Moira Allen, Greek Council co-chair and member of Alpha Chi Lambda, responded that they were not involved.
“I do think there should be a student voice represented. I’m just not sure how. We [Greek-Council members] were elected to be neutral. Personally, I want to see them [the suspended Greeks] back on campus, so I’m sincerely hoping that [the degree of student involvement] will change,” Allen said.
Allen believes that time and the recent election will lend itself to a more objective student perspective on the issue.
“Before, there was just so much ambiguity and so many gray areas. We [Greek Council] felt like we were walking on eggshells, and we just didn’t want to make mistakes,” Allen said. “Now it has been a year, and while we don’t want to dig up old issues with appeals, I think because its been an extended amount of time, we have a greater opportunity to look at the situation objectively.”
Now that the four organizations have submitted their formal reinstatement proposals, the question of how much the Trinity community will be privy to remains.
“I do not know [if the reinstatement plans will become public at any time],” McGlamory said. “The reinstatement plans are forward-thinking, so we hope that these groups use this time to make a plan that they will work off for the next few years, so even if the documents themselves are not published you will be able to see the changes in the way that these groups are made on campus.”
Thompson agreed with McGlamory, noting that the decision to publicize the proposals will be left up to the sanctioned organizations.
“I have never been part of a conversation that has indicated that they would be made public at anytime. My guess is that if they were to be made public, the organization would do that. I don’t think the institution or Dr. Fischer would share those on behalf of the organization, so if an organization would like to share that, that would be up to them.”
Allen, on the other hand, expressed a different view.
“Transparency will be in the best interest of everyone because of the negative connotations of the situation, but I agree that certain traditions should be held: to what extent, I don’t know,” Allen said.
Regardless, no specific dates or deadlines have been set, and it is still unclear as to if or when the four sanctioned groups could return to campus.
“Right now, they are in this phase of rebuilding. We will move forward with them once we get to that point,” Thompson said. “There is no set date at which organizations will become reinstated.”