"Campus Blues" by Sarah Fulton
“Campus Blues” by Sarah Fulton

Mar. 1 will mark one year since Dean Tuttle sent an email to the Trinity community stating that all orientation activities were suspended pending the investigation of inappropriate conduct on the part of unidentified clubs. While we have since devoted extensive amounts of time, energy and coverage to this Greek saga, fundamental aspects of the current situation remain unclear. The recent Concert for the Cure philanthropy event, formerly sponsored by Gamma Chi Delta, has brought into question the privileges afforded to the currently-sanctioned organizations.

Let us be clear: We do not question whether the four Greek organizations have stayed true to the terms of their suspension. In fact, we commend the organizations for their efforts to rebuild and positively contribute to the community.

However, the reinstatement process lacks clarity, transparency and an objective outside student perspective.

When reporting for this week’s front-page story, “Concert for the Cure raises questions,” we interviewed Michael Fischer, Jamie Thompson and Briana McGlamory and also looked at past administrative statements.

According to an email sent by President Ahlburg on May 3, 2012, “During the suspension period, these organizations”¦ can participate as a group in pre-approved, limited non-social community-oriented activities and projects, but all other activities of the organization are strictly prohibited.”

While Concert for the Cure is a community-oriented event that raises thousands of dollars for children with cancer, the event itself involves alcohol, music, and dancing. Organizers also requested money from ASR for transportation to prevent drunk driving. The organizers recognize it’s social. Does the administration?

Moreover, the members of the suspended Gamma Chi Delta organization were told they could not associate the Gamma name with the event. Yet, all of the individuals selling tickets, requesting funds and managing both the day-to-day operations and the non-profit are current or former Gammas. The address listed for donations goes to the Gamma’s on-campus mailbox. The Concert for the Cure website references Gamma’s frequently and the Gammas wore their jerseys at the event.

By all accounts, Gammas followed every rule the administration created, and yet when anybody walked into Cowboy’s, it was clear that this was a Gamma-sponsored event. All of this sends a mixed message about what the administration expects.

Looking at the big picture, when we asked Fischer, Thompson and McGlamory about a general timeline for possible reinstatement and what the proposals looked like, we were directed to other members of the trifecta for answers, and when those members could not respond, our questions remained unanswered.

We acknowledge that Fischer, Thompson and McGlamory all have busy lives outside of this issue, but since the administration has embarked on this reinstatement process, it should be done right, with clearly-defined standards and a thorough explanation of the reasoning behind their thought processes and judgments.

Most importantly, because the reinstatement process is an entirely new concept””no other Trinity Greek organization suspended in the past was ever given the option of reducing their suspension””it sets a precedent and standard for future years.

Now is the time to see if there are visual improvements or change within the organizations. We, as involved and concerned community members with a stake in our school’s reputation and peers’ well-being, urge the university to make the proposals public. Better yet, we encourage the sanctioned groups to do it themselves to show just how far they’ve come.

We also want to suggest that outside students be involved in the review process. Greek Council was created  to provide a student prospective. The administration trusts students to be the judge of their peer’s actions in the case of the Honor Council and Student Conduct Board, so why is this situation any different?

If both of these steps are taken””making the proposals public and including a more objective student opinion””there will be more confidence in the overall process and outcome.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Y’all are ridiculous. Of course Gamma girls were the ones selling tickets, taking payments, and running the thing – they created this event from scratch and didn’t want to see a noble cause and chance to raise THOUSANDS for a good cause just fall through the cracks. If you want to pick on the process, pick on the administration entirely for what seems to be an intentionally vague and subjective process. But don’t insinuate that these girls got a freebie by working their little butts off – despite the suspension – to do something good for their community.

    • Actually, we do “pick on” the administration in this editorial. We openly question the vagueness and lack of structure in the reinstatement process.

  2. If this was really all about the charity, why not do it without the jerseys?

    Also, was it $20,000 raised for charity, or was it $20,000 raised for all the costs of throwing a big party, with any money left over at the end given to a charity? I’m assuming they didn’t eat the costs themselves. It’s not unheard of in the nonprofit world for organizations to take as much as 99% for fundraising and overhead costs, with only a tiny fraction going to the charity they supposedly represent. This is particularly common with charity dinners and concerts. Depending on what charity the money was donated to, the amount that actually goes to fighting cancer could be negligible or even nonexistent.

    I also take issue with the suggestion that the administration is entirely to blame here. Gamma didn’t get suspended for no reason at all… Years after graduation, looking back at Trinity, if there was one thing that truly marred the campus it was the Greek system. Even many of my friends who were a part of it look back on the time they invested in their fraternities or sororities as a waste of time. Why do we have administration sanctioned cliques? Not that many people will naturally stay friends with the people they meet in the first weeks of freshmen year; why artificially enforce friendships by making people pay dues? Just be friends with who you want, learn what you can while you can, and experience all that college has to offer.

    The thought of spending four years only hanging out with the kind of people I liked (or who liked me) when I was 18 is kinda depressing. Paying dues for the privilege of conforming to a exclusionary club is still more depressing.

    Still more importantly, study after study has shown that, on average, Greek membership has a negative effect on both cognitive development and GPA, as well as higher incidents of drug or alcohol abuse.

    These societies are a historical anachronism, a throwback to the days of deep class divisions and secret societies in the adult world. The day of voting for people based on their membership in the Masons is long gone. Similarly, I doubt many Greek organizations are paying close attention to the ancestry of their rushes (that was the main point of these organizations early on; to keep out new money, Jews, and other minorities. That nearly all modern Greeks would find such an attitude repugnant is the point. Why form exclusionary groups at all if it’s just a matter of picking people you get along with? Nobody’s forcing you to be friends with anyone.), beyond perhaps giving the benefit of the doubt to legacies.

    But whatever. If y’all wanna spend your time on these silly clubs, I can’t stop you. Just know that (at least in my day) the rest of the student body finds you pretty ridiculous. All of us came to Trinity not knowing people, but all of us managed to make a bunch of friends within the first few months without having to pay dues.

  3. Um, Mike, your bitterness is showing.

    I do not consider my time as a member of Zeta Chi a waste. I am still friends with the women in my sorority. I had many friends who weren’t in Zeta Chi. In fact, most of the friends I didn’t have to pay dues to hang out with weren’t a part of the Greek system and wouldn’t have been caught dead in a sorority or fraternity. Belonging to a sorority at Trinity did not stunt my cognitive growth or GPA. And the insinuation that the Gammas kept (most? all?) the money they raised to cover the cost of the event is libelous.

    While there may be problems with the way the university has handled the suspended clubs, particularly as it relates to the fundraiser, your disparagement of the entire Greek system says more about your character than it does about about actives and alumnae of Trinity’s Greek organizations.

  4. Frat dues went in to buying alcohol for their parties where minors were getting intoxicated. Yes, I was in a frat back in the day and I believe the practice still goes on. What a waste of time (and money) when I look back at it. I left with a low GPA and now I am living off food stamps and unemployment benefits.

    • Ben, I think it is time to take some personal responsibility and not blame the fraternity.

      You said “What a waste of time (and money) when I look back at it. I left with a low GPA and now I am living off food stamps and unemployment benefits.”

      If I look back at my pledge class of a group of vilified underground Teers, of the 9 we now have:

      4 lawyers
      1 doctor
      2 engineers (software and/or physical)
      1 finance guru
      1 media production services

      We didn’t have the highest GPAs but we learned that positive outcomes can be accomplished through struggle, perseverance, and having each others back. What you make out of yourself is completely up to you. These were some of the lessons that I was taught during the pledging process. I also got a great deal of pride for the people that I mention above.

      Take in mind what you are describing right now is a sign of a down economy. There are a lot of people that are scraping to make ends meet. The best thing you can do is keep your head down, your attitude positive, and keep pushing forward.

  5. I didn’t say they profited or that they pocketed the money. I’m suggesting that a good deal of it went to pay for the concert, food, beverages, etc.

    I don’t know what charity the money went to, but it it was the American Cancer Society then it’s not too bad. According to charitynavigator.org, 71.2% of their money actually goes towards their program (6.8% goes to administration, 21.8% to fundraising). That’s not great, but not nearly as bad as “charities” like the veterans, firemen, policemen, etc. groups that cold-call people. They are often in the category I mentioned where less than 1% goes to the program (which pretty much makes them a scam. Obviously there are plenty of legitimate charities for these groups, but I think folks know the kind I mean…).

    Kelly, if you’re still friends with your sorority sisters, fine. I’m still not sure why such social clubs have to be officially recognized by the University in any way. I also wouldn’t say I’m “bitter” about Greeks. I just find them kind of embarrassing; I envy friends who didn’t have to deal with such nonsense in their schools. It’s really a sign of how much frats have little to do with their original purpose (to be snobby and upper class) that having them at our school gives a very state-school or “school for rich kids who couldn’t get into a better school” vibe. When I see a guy wearing a frat jersey, I don’t assume that his family comes from old money or his father is really powerful or something (which is what it was supposed to suggest in the early frats, like Skull and Bones at Yale). Instead, I assume he’s the kind of guy who takes classes because they’re an easy “A” and chooses his dorm based on whether he can watch the football games from his balcony.

    And again, I’m friends with both Greek members (from very specific ones. I found that there were a few that tended to deal with non-Greeks, and the others just stuck to their little Greek cliques) and non-Greek members from Trinity. I didn’t have to pay dues to be friends with any of them.

    I know underage drinking is going to go on at college, but why does the university officially sanction what are essentially drinking/drug clubs?

    (and yes, back in my day at least, drug use at Greek events was vastly more common than at non-Greek events, particularly if you include roofies, which I never heard of at Trinity outside of Greek nonsense).

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