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Posted in Op-Ed, Opinion

Op-Ed: Vote Yes on the Greek Life Referendum

By
April 7, 2013

As we hope you are well aware, the referendum on Greek life will be taking place today and tomorrow on Moodle. Since the referendum is fast approaching and given the recent dispute over posters we have put up, we thought it would be helpful to clarify the origin of this campaign and the rationale behind it.

So, how did we get here? The campaign began last spring, when the administration announced that it would permit sororities to return to campus. A number of us were bothered by the fact that this decision was handed down by the administration, with little input from the student body. Nevertheless, we decided to look into the issue, and spoke with a number of members of the Not Yet Sisters (NYS) who intended to form the sorority. We left these conversations reassured by two promises: first, that a sorority-to-be would provide financial assistance in order to eliminate economic barriers to potential pledges, and second, that it would have a clear policy of admitting any woman-identified student.

Fast forward to this spring, by which time NYS had selected Kappa Alpha Theta for its national affiliation. The national chapter sent two Educational Leadership Consultants, or ELCs, to campus with the intention of recruiting members and answering the community’s questions about Theta. We found it upsetting that the ELCs—representatives of the national organization and its values—proved ignorant of trans issues, stating that a trans person’s sex assigned at birth is their “real gender.” Moreover, in an open meeting on campus, the ELCs and national representatives from Kappa Alpha Theta stated sisters would need to be registered as female on the college records in order to be a part of the sorority. While Swarthmore’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta announced yesterday in a public notice that they will admit trans women and provide financial assistance for dues, we have been, and remain, troubled by the fact that the group would choose to affiliate with a national organization whose stated policies discriminate on the basis of wealth and gender.

 

During the period in which the sorority got its start, a separate set of issues with the fraternities began to come to light. A number of intensely troubling stories of sexual assault, violent behavior, and homophobic, sexist and racist hate speech committed by members of the fraternities, in and out of their houses, came to our attention. Beyond the incidents themselves, we were shocked by the indifference of witnesses (brothers included) and the lack of accountability among the fraternity leadership when they were informed of what transpired. These problems have been illustrated by two students who courageously shared their stories in The Daily Gazette. In an op-ed published on The Daily Gazette in February, Parker Murray ’15 describes being verbally and physically assaulted by a brother while others looked on; the offender was not punished by his fraternity. In another piece, Marian Firke ’14 describes being harassed by the multiple fraternity brothers who aimed to keep her quiet about the menacing behavior of one of their brothers.

Given inadequate responses by the Greek organizations and administration to these problems, we decided that holding a referendum on Greek life would call attention to the issue. Joyce Wu ’15 announced the first petition to hold a referendum in mid-February. The leaders of the Greek organizations took offense at this and claimed that the move came out of left field. We then agreed to hold all-campus discussions about the problems with Greek life. At the first meeting, representatives of the Greek organizations did not propose any meaningful policies to address the problems raised. The second meeting was nearly scuttled when Greek organization leadership refused to have the meeting moderated by a dean trained in mediation. Still, we relented and allowed the meeting to proceed with the Student Council co-presidents moderating in place of the dean. At this meeting, members of the Greek organizations once again proposed no substantive policies and rejected all structural changes posed by unaffiliated students.

Since the discussion was not leading toward any concrete solution to the pressing problems of violent behavior and hate speech, Joyce decided to hold a new petition for a referendum. In light of the perspectives the discussion opened up, we included six questions in the new referendum to make it a true test of campus opinion, which you can read here. These proposals include five major structural reforms to Greek organizations and a proposal for abolition. They are:

 

  1. Do you support ceasing Delta Upsilon’s and Kappa Alpha Theta’s affiliations to their national chapters?
  2. Do you support admitting students of all genders to sororities and fraternities?
  3. Do you support making fraternity houses into substance-free spaces?
  4. Do you support merging all sororities and fraternities into one campus building?
  5. Do you support having no campus buildings expressly for the purpose of housing Greek organizations?
  6. Do you support the abolition of sororities and fraternities at Swarthmore College?

 

Since we have heard from many students that the posters we hung last week made too short shrift of the issues, we’d like to spell out here the reasons for voting YES on Monday and Tuesday:

 

  1. At other institutions, sexual assault, unsafe drinking practices, violent behavior, and homophobic, sexist, and racist hate speech committed by fraternity members here would merit serious punishment to the organization as a whole. At the University of Michigan, for example, a fraternity was suspended and then expelled from campus when a pledge was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Additionally, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a fraternity was suspended after a group of students at a fraternity party used racial slurs against and threw a glass bottle at two black students. After the numerous instances similar occurrences on our campus, we would expect the fraternities to be held accountable. Instead, they have continued operating as is.
  2. One of the most basic tenets of a Greek organization is to privilege the bonds between an individual and their brothers or sisters over that between those they have with other students. This type of emphasis leads to the coercive behavior described in Marian’s op-ed. It also leads to the complicity with misbehavior described in Parker’s. In other words, Greek organizations have a culture that shields wrongdoers from accountability and scares victims into silence. We do not deny that unsafe drinking, sexual assault, and harassment on the basis of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity happen on other parts of campus, but this aspect of Greek culture makes these events even more dangerous. Furthermore, tackling them in one specific group of organizations is one part of tackling the issue at large.
  3. Disciplinary problems with Greek organizations are routed to Tom Elverson, Delta Upsilon brother and advisor to the fraternities. This policy creates separate disciplinary channels for fraternity brothers and other students. We expect students to be treated equally.
  4. The fraternities maintain disproportionate control over the party spaces on campus. Of the four major party spaces, two are fraternity houses (the others being Paces and Olde Club). This is unfair not only because many students do not feel comfortable in the fraternity houses, but also because no other student group has such a degree of control over wet spaces.
  5. Fraternities are the only organizations on campus that are the sole occupants of a building. The Intercultural Center, Black Cultural Center, and Women’s Resource Center are shared spaces that numerous groups occupy and that the college ultimately controls. Furthermore, these spaces are all dry. Some student groups have offices or rooms that they have control over, but these are not equivalent to a full building, as well as being completely non-residential.
  6. While Swarthmore’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta has confirmed that it is open to anyone who identifies as a woman, representatives of the national chapter have yet to articulate a clear policy regarding the acceptance of all woman-identifying students. We were told by a representative of the national organization that Kappa Alpha Theta’s current stance is that they have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. This represents a gap in communication between the local chapter and the national organization that is highly concerning. Similarly, the national chapter of Delta Upsilon requires that all brothers be registered as male on college records. Furthermore, students who do not identify within the gender binary are completely excluded from all Greek organizations, since they identify as neither women nor men. No other student group has such trans-exclusive policies.
  7. The Greek organizations have yet to propose any meaningful policies that would address any of the above points. The proposals made during the two campus-wide discussions included creating a college Pan-Hellenic Council, which would merely increase bureaucracy and further separate Greek organizations from other student groups.
  8. We have heard the argument that making decisions about Greek organizations by referendum would lead to a slippery slope where the majority of the student body could make decisions about any student group that they don’t like. Historical precedents would indicate that this is not the case. In 1933, Swarthmore abolished sororities by referendum, yet no other group has since been voted off campus by referendum. Furthermore, Greek organizations are not ordinary student groups. They require special Board of Managers approval in order to form, are not regulated by Student Council like every other group, occupy their own buildings, and have more privileges than other student groups.

In order for the referendum to pass, 1/3 of the campus must participate in the vote, and of those who do not vote “no preference” each question, a majority must vote “yes.”

Please consider these points and use them to inform your decision when you vote today or tomorrow. Thank you.

Op-Ed submitted by Amanda Epstein ’15, Koby Levin ’15, Hope Brinn ’15, Parker Murray ’15, and Joyce Wu ’15 on behalf of Swat Vote Yes

82 Responses to Op-Ed: Vote Yes on the Greek Life Referendum

  1. ... Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 1:22 am

    nahh

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 64 Thumb down 47

  2. Where is transparency? Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I voted no to all of this and wanted to explain my reasoning.

    The referendum, as it stands, asks:

    Do you support ceasing Delta Upsilon’s and Kappa Alpha Theta’s affiliations to their national chapters?
    Do you support admitting students of all genders to sororities and fraternities?
    Do you support making fraternity houses into substance-free spaces?
    Do you support merging all sororities and fraternities into one campus building?
    Do you support having no campus buildings expressly for the purpose of housing Greek organizations?
    Do you support the abolition of sororities and fraternities at Swarthmore College?

    These concerns actually don’t address one of the biggest problems with Greek life, transparency. It seems this campaign’s advertising is trying to use the lack of transparency to cover up for points 1-6 and, at the same time, points 1-6 don’t actually help increase transparency for the fraternities.

    I was upset to read a chalking in front of Parrish that reads that someone knows 5 serial rapists in the fraternities and that nothing is done about them because, the chalking suggests, they are in fraternities (disclaimer-the author cannot substantiate these claims -but it doesn’t matter to the point here). I feel like none of the points on the referendum is the correct solution to increase transparency over discipline on our campus. Personally, I would strongly suggest the removal of those rapists from this campus. To make our campus a safer place, the start needs to be with increased transparency, as seen in the chalking. None of these points get at that.

    As for some other salient points brought up in this post, and by the referendum topics, I would strongly urge people to check out the letter written by the Thetas that shows how Swarthmore’s Thetas are different from the national organization by providing financial aid (to 100% of that requested) and being inclusive (admitting 100% of those who wanted to join).

    Also, before shooting down the frats for not providing substantive change, I would like to know what they did propose at the meeting and would appreciate it if someone could post those suggestions they had. The point seems to be loaded with judgement, unsubstantiated and may be an attempt to slander the fraternities in the eye of the public.

    I am sure other more vocal people will have more to add to this discussion. I suggest another referendum with measures to increase transparency, and without point number 6, because that puts the fraternities on the defensive, which is unhealthy for campus discussion.

    If there were a solid measure that improved transparency, and therefore decreased the chance that rapists or any others could get away with extremely wrong items, I would vote yes to that item.

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    • K Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      I love you. I have always thought transparency (to the end of determining as publicly as possible what has actually happened and what can be done to do justice to what has happened) was the overarching issue that could be relevant for every single last group on campus.

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 7

      • K Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm

        To clarify my position: I know there are a host of unique institutional power issues and instances regarding the fraternities, as many articles on the DG have argued and conveyed. I have just heard of some seriously vile shit happening in the contexts of _other groups_ as well that were defined by grotesque “circling the wagons” and in-group silencing. I want a full, renewed process by which we can deal with this shit, and if it ends up gobbling up the frats so be it, too.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  3. Where is transparency? Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 5:42 am

    I wanted to add:

    “A number of intensely troubling stories of sexual assault, violent behavior, and homophobic, sexist and racist hate speech committed by members of the fraternities, in and out of their houses, came to our attention.”

    The referendum questions given do not actually seem to help with any of those issues. I apologize to this campus community for not being more vocal in this process.

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 50 Thumb down 9

  4. Where is transparency? Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 6:44 am

    tons of errors in that piece of writing…don’t judge

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

  5. Marian '14 Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 6:44 am

    I just wanted to clarify that although my previous Op-Ed article is referenced in this article, I am not affiliated with the group Swat Vote Yes, nor was I contacted about these references prior to its publication. I would like to believe that the experiences I relate in that Op-Ed can speak for themselves, and leave it to the Swarthmore community to weigh my experience and the experiences that other students have shared in coming to a decision about how to vote.

    I shared my story in the hopes of continuing to advance a civil dialogue about creating a supportive campus as well as a safe one. As we we now move into this next phase of the dialogue, I hope that we as a community can remember that this should be our common goal. Although this is an issue in which I clearly have personal investment, this is truly my concern, above any other. I have cast my vote, and I believe it to be my own business.

    I’m holding the whole Swarthmore community in the light, all the way from abroad.

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 15

    • So I hate to put it this way, but Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Poorly rated comment. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 23

      • Wow Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        Ever heard of study abroad?

        Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  6. a question Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

    For #2: “Do you support admitting students of all genders to sororities and fraternities?” – is this targetted mainly at trans students who identify as male and might want to pledge Phi Psi/DU or female and want to pledge Theta, or is this across all genders? Basically, would this question, if passed and enacted, mean that if I identify as a male, I can still pledge Theta?

    Also, would passing #2 automatically pass #1? That is, would the national organizations not be willing to support groups that don’t follow their gender guidelines and therefore cease to affiliate with them?

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

    • Truth Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Question 2 is so ambiguous and their reason to vote yes for question 2 almost doesn’t seem to relate at all…. clarification please?

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 5

      • Julia Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

        The numbered reasons for voting yes do not correspond to the numbered questions on the referendum.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    • Uhm Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:39 am

      It would make all Greek organizations gender neutral (or co-ed as you mainstreamers call it).

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 17

    • Question 2 Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Question 2 means what it says: any student of any gender could pledge any Greek organization. So, yes, you could.

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

      • a question Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        So what does that realistically mean for Question 1? Does passing 2 essentially pass 1? (Assuming, of course, that the results of this referendum are acted upon)

        Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. Senior '13 Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

    In regards to #8, the sororities were abolished by an internal referendum (i.e. only sorority sisters could vote, not the whole campus) because the sisters at Swarthmore were dismayed at discrimination they had been exposed to on other campuses. Drawing a connection between that process and this one is a false parallel.

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    • Uhm Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Citation?

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

    • Aaron Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:56 am

      It was actually a vote of all women, at a time when there were separate student councils for men and women. It was not an internal vote, it is a fair comparison.

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 4

  8. Bubu Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 10:15 am

    This is all very sexy and stuff.

    Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

  9. Iminhighschool Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly rated comment. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 71

    • translation party Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Poorly rated comment. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 27

    • Comment Policy? Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

      What is the Daily Gazette’s comment policy going to be for this article in the event a lot of TFM-ers wander over here? I don’t necessarily think things will get out of hand, but anyone who has read the boards at TFM knows their community is threatening, hateful, racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.

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      • Max Nesterak Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 11:36 am

        Good Question! We have a FAQ about our comment policy here – http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2011/10/31/commentary-on-our-comments-policy/

        Short answer: we will deal with each comment on a comment by comment basis and hope to maintain as open a forum as possible. We do not (generally) approve threats or hate speech. (The exception (which makes up the majority) is for example an anonymous commenter threatening to fart on another anonymous commenter’s mom’s pillow. These will be approved in the spirit of an open forum). Email editors [at] daily [dot] swarthmore [dot] edu if you have any other questions or concerns or to tip us off if you see a comment you find particularly dangerous and offense.

        Thank you,

        Max Nesterak ’13
        Co-Editor in Chief

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    • Delta Upsilon Brother Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Would all you anonymous assholes from TFM please stay the hell away from our school. You’re a bunch of vicious cowards with no respect for anything or anybody. You’re not welcome here. Please stick to posting horrific comments on your own website. Leave ours alone.

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      • Hoover Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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        • Delta Upsilon Brother Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

          I don’t care who they are: they have already proven that they do not abide by our Swarthmore values and that they have nothing constructive to add to this conversation. They are consequently not welcome here.

          Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 52 Thumb down 1

        • alum Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm

          frat “satire” or not, TFM is as fucking stupid as you can get.

          Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

        • Uhm Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

          Well then it’s okay to use racial slurs like chink and say the person deserves to be lit on fire. Am I right?

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        • Books Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

          … really? There may be satire involved, and the comments may be over the top, but that doesn’t mean the whole thing is satire, or was intended as such. See: http://www.statesman.com/news/lifestyles/debauched-yet-self-aware-total-frat-life-takes-off/nT5bg/

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        • Hoover Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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          • Senior

            April 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

            Ah, so death threats are supposed to be funny? Clearly I missed that nuance when deciding that the website was run by a bunch of dicks rather than brilliant satirists.

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      • All of You, Suck My Cockington Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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        • No actually Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm

          I know many of them and they definitely have tons of sex

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        • TFM GTFO Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm

          Clearly, you’re not from here. A good number of the anti-frat advocates are white and straight. Also, trust me. We anti-frat people have plenty of sex.

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    • Go Away Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Let us all pause to appreciate the beauty of someone from TFM lecturing us.

      Better a bunch of elitist snobs than a bunch of drunk anti-intellectuals who represent every form of traditional intolerance (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism). Even Swarthmore’s frat brothers are ashamed of the TFM representation.

      Instead of putting up posters, SwatVoteYes should have just printed out this website and posted it on campus:

      http://totalfratmove.com/1192069/comment-page-2

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  10. Joke city Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    The Daily Gazette has become a tabloid. DG editors these articles will look great on your applications to the National Enquirer. The lack of journalistic integrity and capability is astounding.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 34

    • Andrew Karas Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Hi “Joke city,”

      While we won’t dispute that some of the most contentious issues on campus frequently blur the lines between fact and opinion, we want to remind you that this piece is an op-ed–a type of opinion piece written by community members and emailed to the editors, quite like what The New York Times publishes. It’s quite clear from the note included in this piece that it was written by a partisan group hoping to make their position clear. You’re free to submit an op-ed as you please. No journalism required.

      Andrew Karas
      News Editor
      The Daily Gazette

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  11. Repercussions of Referendum Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I have a question for the authors of this well thought out op-Ed. My vote is still up in there as I think these issues through. I just wonder what the next step in the process is if say the campus votes in favor or against the referendum. Do fraternities have to immediately exit? Who gets the space? Who is in charge pf the space? What about the members of fraternities living in the houses? What about the substantial investment each group has put into their house? Would greek life be safe for the foreseeable future from continuous referenda? Furthermore and most importantly, how do we unify a so clearly divided campus?

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    • Allison '16 Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Great question!

      I’m a member of SwatVoteYes, and while our main aim has been starting discussions about the problems surrounding Greek Life and the need for a referendum, we’ve been discussing future plans as well.

      The first step is going to the administration. Although, as many anti-referendum folks have pointed out, they are not obligated to listen to this vote, showing them that a majority of the student body feels this way should have some sway. Whereas it is easy to dismiss individual students calling for reform, an organized and large vote will be less easily ignored.

      As for space, the College actually owns the frat houses and the land they sit on. I can’t speak for those living in the houses (there are only one or two students, no?) but we hope the spaces could be operated as Paces and Olde Club currently are. If the referendums concerning space do pass and implementation is a problem, we have a recent model to look to: just 22 years ago, Swat reclaimed the house being operated by Phi Sigma Kappa.

      As for uniting the campus…that’s going to take a lot of work. But it’s not impossible.

      If anyone has questions about SwatVoteYes or just the referendum in general, you can contact those listed as the authors of this article, or myself (ahrabar1) and we’ll be happy to answer them.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 35 Thumb down 44

      • Swarthmore 20X Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

        “As for space, the College actually owns the frat houses and the land they sit on. I can’t speak for those living in the houses (there are only one or two students, no?) but we hope the spaces could be operated as Paces and Olde Club currently are. If the referendums concerning space do pass and implementation is a problem, we have a recent model to look to: just 22 years ago, Swat reclaimed the house being operated by Phi Sigma Kappa.”

        Fair warning: I am not, nor was I ever, a member of DU, but have been told this about the contractual arrangement between the college and DU. Current members or alumni should correct me if wrong.

        It is actually much, much more complicated than you make it seem. At some point during its tenure, Delta Upsilon surrendered its house to the college in return for a lifetime lease prohibiting the college using the space for other purposes or by other groups. Therefore, I highly doubt it is a simple as you make it. Taking the house from DU would likely require some fun legal battles.

        Further, the comparison to Phi Sigma Kappa is flat wrong. That fraternity surrendered its house because it was grossly in debt, and giving the house to the college rectified that. Neither DU or Phi Psi are currently in debt.

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  12. Just sayin... Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Hi “Alison ’16″

    While you may be correct that “Swat reclaimed the house being operated by Phi Sigma Kappa,” I think the facts show that this event is not “a recent model to look to.”

    According to the New York Times, Phi Sigma Kappa “ran up about $15,000 in debt for heating and utility services and $85,000 in charges for structural maintenance.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/03/nyregion/campus-life-swarthmore-phi-sigma-kappa-loses-its-chapter-over-100000-debt.html

    I’m fairly certain that reclaiming a frat as a result of financial mismanagement is quite different from a group of students demanding that fraternities be abolished.

    Just sayin…

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  13. Libby Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly rated comment. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 25

    • Uhm Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 1:31 am

      What’s Title XI?

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    • SpicySoy Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 2:55 am

      Someone please enlighten me. Will Theta allow any female identified person to join or not? The contradictory comments that are being made (even by the Theta organization/members themselves) are problematic and not appreciated.

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      • here you go! Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        any student who identifies as a female, regardless of school records, is invited to join the Alpha Beta chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta

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    • Alex 16 Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

      I’m not sure where in title IX it requires a person to be “legally” female, whatever that means, just that the person must be female. By Swarthmore standards, people who identify as female are female. What’s the problem?

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  14. Fraternity Member Reply

    April 9, 2013 at 5:41 am

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    • norms are stupid, statistics aren't your thing, Swatties will pwn you in B school Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Dude. Woah.

      Let off the Swat hate.

      As they say in Mean Girls, “You don’t even go here. … [You must have] a lot of feelings. … Go home.”

      Recommended by readers. Vote Up or Down: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 3

    • Sara '12 Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Two problems:

      1. “I am sorry if you affiliate with a different gender than the one you were born with, but that its your own damn choice, and if you’re not happy with a frat/sorority not letting you in THEN DON’T JOIN ONE.”

      Huh? People aren’t born with genders that they then deny, genders are assigned. It may be that some people deliberately choose their genders out of thin air, but most people feel that they just plain *are* their genders. Also, that last bit is really, REALLY circular: if you’re upset that you’re not let in, don’t join? But if someone can’t get in, then they *can’t* join, so why is your recommended course of action to *decide* not to join, when there isn’t actually another option?

      2. “71% of Greek members graduate, while only 50% of non-greek members graduate.”

      I don’t actually have the figures at hand, but I have a strong hunch that this is not representative of Swarthmore’s graduation rates.

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      • Uhm Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

        It’s also obviously socioeconomically biased.

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    • Explanation Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I think the majority of the Swarthmore community disagrees with some assumptions you’ve made. I also believe some of the statements you’ve made are likely hurtful to members of our community. However, this is the most thoughtful TFM comment I’ve run across. And I genuinely think you want to debate with us, so a serious response and hopefully a respectful response.

      1. “Sure I think TFM is a hilarious website even though it can get crude at times”
      When someone threatens to light a member of our community on fire, regardless of that community members politics, we don’t find it funny. The harassment of Joyce was more than crude. I respect that our senses of humor will be different, but I think you can understand why the Swarthmore community is furious with TFM.

      2. Punishing the frats for TFM.

      We aren’t punishing the frats for TFM. The referendum got started long before many Swarthmore students were even knew TFM existed. Is the referendum based on the behavior of frats not at Swarthmore? Maybe, but not really. While frustration with the behavior of fraternities as an institution may be in the minds of some students, mostly we are frustrated with our own fraternities. If you read the Op-eds that have been written, our fraternities have not been immune to the homophobia and misogyny plaguing other frats. We want queer students to feel safe. We want there to be fewer (zero!) rapes. We’ve tried a lot of things and they haven’t worked. We ask ourselves really agonizing questions. Why after extensive sexual assault workshops, do frat members still rape? And we try to change things. Honestly, I’m not sure how abolishing fraternities will reduce rapes, because while the sexual assault workshops are not be 100% effective at preventing rape, I believe they are better than nothing. But people behind this referendum do believe that abolishing fraternities will reduce rape. Even if I disagree with their reasoning, I respect them because they are trying to DO SOMETHING about a real problem.

      3.I am sorry if you affiliate with a different gender than the one you were born with, but that its your own damn choice, and if you’re not happy with a frat/sorority not letting you in THEN DON’T JOIN ONE.

      It’s not a choice. I don’t think we are sure how exactly gender identity forms, but we know this: it is not a choice and there aren’t just 2 genders. There’s a kind of cool primer here, though new models suggest it’s not a linear, but a multidimensional thing:

      http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary-gender-explained-using-continuums/

      There are 2 problems with fraternities here. First, it’s wrong to prevent man/woman identifying people from joining a Frats or Sororities. Second, what about people who identify as genderqueer and want a social (partying) community that also does community service and has career connections? They are barred from this gender exclusive community. Someone might say, well they can get what they need from other organizations. But when another person suggests that frat brothers could get what they need from non greek organizations, that same someone will claim that Greek life is different. There’s a contradiction here. This is an equality issue.

      4. Dry houses: yeah good luck with that one. Its college for a reason.

      I tend to agree.

      5. You will lose money from donations from Greek graduates.

      It’s not about the money for us.

      6. Graduation Rates, GPA, Success

      Unclear if these are true for Swarthmore.

      9. Service Work

      The service work Greek life does is awesome. I tip my cap to Swarthmore Greek life on this. Justice requires that we serve our neighbor. But we have to serve our neighbors in all different ways. Social justice is about organized service work and it’s about showing compassion and respecting the dignity of all people in your day to day interactions. Our frats have failed on many occasions to live up to the last one.

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      • Fraternity Member Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        Thank you for at least taking me somewhat seriously and being open ended compared to some others in this comment section. I go to University of Wisconsin so obviously our are cultures different, and I didn’t mean to impede on your school’s life, but you guys want to abolish something that has become a major part of my life. I don’t see your reasoning with abolishing Fraternities will help get rid of rape. Are you saying that all rapists belong to a Fraternity? Or that if someone rapes someone they are automatically in a Fraternity? I’m sorry but there are bad people out there that aren’t in Fraternities, so it is still going to happen. And sure get rid of fraternities, but the assholes who were them doing it are still going to rape people because well they’re assholes, but not all Fraternity members are. I don’t want to touch upon this gender issue because honestly I have never dealt with it and don’t want to be ignorant towards those people. I’m just trying to say that, yes, Fraternities are exclusive, but they aren’t the only exclusive groups out there. Gender-wise (male and female) there are fraternities and sororities that are both equal. People who don’t affiliate with either…a fraternity is honestly just a group of guys who hang out and party together..so maybe get together a group of friends and make your own group? Glad we agree on the alcohol thing. Money…ok I was merely saying for other smaller colleges that can be an issue. The GPA comment was just true as a generality of all colleges in the US. Maybe it’s different at your school, so I’ll drop it. I’m sorry but getting rid of Fraternities are not going to solve any of these problems.

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    • Foxxy Alum Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      LOL it’s pretty clear that you don’t go to Swat

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      • Fraternity Member Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm

        Well yes…I said that in my post? Just because I don’t go to your school doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on the matter. Get of your damn high horse.

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        • Wow Reply

          April 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          Without going to school here, one can have an opinion, but it will be uninformed and irrelevant. Congratulations, your comments fully embody both the “uninformed” and “irrelevant” categories.

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    • alum Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Please, for the sake of humanity, read some books on proper English grammar and sentence structure. Also, try to expand your mind.

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      • Fraternity Member Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        It is funny how people always grammatical mistakes as a comeback when they actually have nothing constructive to say in response. Sorry people make mistakes with typing. Also grammar isn’t my strong point considering I am a bio-medical engineering major and I deal with a lot more difficult stuff than grammar. If you have anything in response to the actual points I made then I would love to hear it.

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        • Sara '12 Reply

          April 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

          But how do you effectively communicate that difficult stuff without grammar? What’s the use if it’s all in your head but no one else can understand your attempts to communicate about it because your head is so full of more difficult stuff that it can’t also handle grammar?

          I actually don’t think that your posts are hard to understand or that perfect grammar is required to make a point, but your arguments against the grammar critic are pretty flimsy.

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          • Fraternity Member

            April 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm

            I honestly never wanted to make this an argument about my damn grammar. I was trying to make a point against some of the arguments that you proposed. It’s called debate. I never put you down at all, criticized you, or attacked you. Yet then you attack me and call me the asshole.

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          • Sara '12

            April 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm

            It won’t let me nest another reply, so here’s my reply to Fraternity Member’s reply to my grammar post:

            1. I didn’t want that either. You’ll notice that my first response to your first posts makes no mention of your writing skills, and in fact, I’m not the one who started talking about them at all. I always use my name for DG comments.

            2. Not only that, but I defended your writing, pointing out that even though I think grammar is important and your arguments against caring about it don’t work for me, that perfection isn’t necessary.

            3. I never called you an asshole. I also never attacked you. I pointed out a couple of problems with your initial argument, and then didn’t think your argument against grammar was so hot.

            4. I didn’t propose any arguments. Who are you even addressing with this comment?

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  15. Fraternity Member Reply

    April 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • alum Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      I call you fucking stupid.

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      • Fraternity Member Reply

        April 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

        It is a joke…its called a sense of humor. Settle down.

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        • alum's friend Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 9:30 am

          Alum was just telling a joke dude. It’s called a sense of humor. Settle down.

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  16. Not active student Reply

    April 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

    ……not that i’m going to lift much more attention away from my studies right now: I respect all the time everyone has been putting into trying to have discussions on campus, but I’d love to know more about how we can improve transparency and at least discuss how Theta is different at Swat/other stuff and if that can be good enough to make people feel respected and safe on campus, and discuss more about if and how the disciplinary system that the deans have for Greek life is not good enough, before discounting them a lot in this OP-ED.

    but I guess the questions are starkly deterministic already for a reason…? I voted but did not really understand why people did not try for a campus-wide pole or to get more deans in on a campus wide discussion first, to try and get more consensus first, before these accusatory chalkings and stuff happened (but I could have missed some events for sure)

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    • Uhm Reply

      April 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Yeah you missed some events. A dean began a large discussion in the Quaker meeting house a few weeks ago. There was also a big meeting in Kohlberg. Important things came out of them. For instance, the referendum added 5 compromisey, structural reformy questions on top of the abolition question. There was no way proposal in the discussions for how to move from talking to action. The referendum was all that was left.

      Furthermore, I don’t think there’s deterministic language. It says “do you support…” Finally, everyone’s made it very clear that this is NOT binding. This is a poll of opinion. Because the Board of Managers regulates Greek life (which IMO is completely unfair since no other student group is regulated like that), the student body does not have a binding say over what happens. It is a gauge of campus climate.

      As for the accusatory chalkings, please say more.

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  17. A Humble Peasant Reply

    April 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    O! How fortunate we are as esteemed students and alumni of swarthmore college to have the ignorance removed from our eyes. Where I once was blind I now see. Alas, it only took the mighty self-righteous indignation of the class of 2015 to condemn such campus institutions.

    We are blessed that individuals were able to valiantly ascend their high horses to cast judgement for systemic issues upon those deemed by public opinion to be most culpable. Nay, nay I say, shall we investigate the empirical evidence. Rather, let us push salem’s lot to the pyre and dance upon the graves.

    How enlightened we have become! How just we have made ourselves! For we have forced from our midst those that think differently. Whilst we study and dwell underneath the roofs of structures generously donated by alumni of these institutions, let us strike these names from the record books. We care not for your past deeds and hold your current incarnations responsible for a blight upon the whole world.

    For my crusade is the only crusade and it is the most righteous crusade. And may I always revel in the majesty of my conquest. For we now may look upon our children and tell the tales of how we smote the mighty beast that seemingly emanated the evil of this world. And though we never approached to mirror to ensure that evil was not within or behind us, we know that we have been fulfilled as we felled those at the tips of our swords.

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    • jizzin Reply

      April 10, 2013 at 9:47 am

      From your lips to God’s ears! Long live the humble peasant!

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  18. David F. Hill IV Reply

    April 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

    While I am greatly pleased that a large majority of the campus voted to preserve Greek life, I hope that the discord and acrimony surrounding the topic can dissipate in favor of constructive solutions. I’m certain that the Greek organizations remain committed to personal and organizational betterment. I also encourage everyone to attend a Consent Workshop and come out to a great party this weekend. Dikaia Upotheke.

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    • Allison 16 Reply

      April 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Hey David F Hill IV –

      I know you can only speak for DU, but what steps do you think Greek organizations will you take to account for the fact that the majority of students support a gender-neutral Greek life? And while I support consent workshops, what other steps will you be taking to ensure the safety of your peers?

      I think it’s been made clear that you want this fight to be over, but this conversation needs to keep happening. These problems (especially those of sexual assault and homophobia/transphobia) need to be addressed in concrete ways.

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      • David F. Hill IV Reply

        April 10, 2013 at 11:10 am

        Allison,
        I think that question was worded in a confusing manner, given that a majority also voted to have Greeks keep their national affiliations. DU and Theta by-laws are not gender neutral, a point which was repeatedly expressed in the debates, so any change would not be binding on us. That leaves Phi Psi, which would be a very interesting point of development.

        DU has a committed program of sober brothers and a leadership open to any and all complaints. I personally have sober brothered multiple times. My personal safety impact has been that of PA Coordinator. Under my direction, the program has expanded in scope and personnel, while also increasing in professionalization. Any problems that occur at parties to be immediately reported to the PAs, who entrusted to respond in an appropriate manner, regardless of where the party is.

        I agree that these issues need to be addressed but could I politely suggest you raise them with the administration, rather than continuing the war against us?

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        • Uhm Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

          You didn’t just go there…

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        • David F. Hill IV Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 1:42 pm

          In case of any confusion, I did not mean that Greek organizations do not wish to be allies moving forward. I think we’d just prefer to not be targets.

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          • Uhm

            April 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm

            Why can’t you hold yourselves accountable? Why do we need to go to the grossly incompetent administration?

            The student body is coming together to make decisions for ourselves. That’s community. That is Swarthmore.

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        • Disagree Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

          Students voted “no” on the *abstract question* of whether DU and Theta should have their national affiliation ceased. That’s separate from whether they should admit all genders, even if it means that they must disaffiliate. Wording and context matter. People might have no independent desire to see the national affiliations ceased while still thinking that making them all-gender is worth that consequence.

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      • Isaac Epstein '14 Reply

        April 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm

        I’m so grateful for the opportunities that Greek Life has provided for me, and I think it’s a real shame that that experience is not available to people who identify outside the gender binary. I hope we can all work together and push for the addition of a gender-neutral Greek Life organisation here at Swarthmore. Instead of trying to get rid of everything that we don’t agree with, let’s come together and build on what already exists. It’s high time we came together as a community again.

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        • Wait.... Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

          So we are separate but equal now?

          That worked well the last time. The campus body didn’t vote for a new organization. It called you out as discriminatory. Change.

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          • Trying to get a read here

            April 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

            So, wait. Ok. As a thought experiment, let’s say that DU (unclear on this policy at either a college or organizational letter) and Phi Psi (ditto) and Kappa Alpha Theta (which regardless of national policy seems for all intents and purposes to be open on this regard) allow trans* members, or for all pragmatic purposes anyone who identifies as being male or female. Would this be oppressive? To be honest, it’s hard for me to picture a complete, straight “yes” answer to this question that in some way would not be offensive to some trans* people (at least folks I know personally) as it seems to be denying that there’s anything significant at all about gender. That is, for me, this would be necessitated on some chain of logic that would also result in someone saying, “trans* person don’t bother identifying as what you feel you are and have struggled with for years, because what you feel you are does not mean anything and it is oppressive for you to reify that gender category,” but I’d like to hear more as I realize this may be a straw man argument.

            Practically speaking, I think the next step for change w/r/t the referendum would be to allow trans*men brothers into the fraternities if this is not already true. I think that’s how the brothers could best show their support.

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          • Julia

            April 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

            (The following is intended as a reply to “Trying to get a read here”, for some reason there isn’t a reply link on their comment.)

            The vast majority of trans* people I know would prefer it if more things were gender-neutral. It’s true that they feel strongly about their gender, but that’s not the same as wanting everyone else to make a big deal about it. Most of them would much prefer it if people paid less attention, not more, to others’ gender/sex so that they could feel free to have whatever gender expression they want without other people judging them on it. I’ve never met a trans person who wanted a stronger gender binary.

            Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • Uhm Reply

          April 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

          That’s not what was voted on. It’s not in addition to. It’s instead of.

          Let’s not rewrite the referendum Isaac. There was nothing in the referendum about expanding Greek life.

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  19. Affiliated Elsewhere Reply

    April 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I am a student involved in Greek life at a Big 10 university. This debate was brought to my attention by an unaffiliated friend who attends Swarthmore, and I would just like to contribute my thoughts.

    First, let me say that Greek life, like any other institution, has both strengths and faults. As with EVERY other organization, both members and nonmembers should work for accountability, transparency, and positive change in any area that demands improvement.

    Now: while I am not overly familiar Swarthmore, I do know that Greek life is compelling because of its ability to unify people in such a way that transcends any demographic classification. Disbanding or restricting Greek life to the extent proposed in this referendum will only cripple and oppress it. This proposal was created out of fear, ignorance, and disregard for the institution’s vast potential for good. Furthermore, these restrictive actions only passively reinforce the negative stereotypes about Greek life.

    Instead, reject your fear, not Greeks. Work to challenge the problem and evolve the institution. This is an amazing opportunity to have the discussion about gender identity, violence, and racism on a NATIONAL stage. Please, work with the advisors and leaders of DU, Theta, and Phi Psi; they may be shocked or slow-acting at first, but extend to them the same standard of patience and tolerance that you demand for your peers. Believe me, if they didn’t want to support you, then they wouldn’t still be here.

    Swarthmore, you have the opportunity to be trailblazers here. The rest of the world is not yet on your level– educate the national council of your Greek organizations. Don’t turn them away, educate them.

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