Baruch College Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost David P. Christy reiterated his stance against social Greek life on campus in an hour-long interview with The Ticker. While he does not have the power to ban social fraternities and sororities outright — only the Undergraduate Student Government or a change to the CUNY bylaws can do this — it is in his power as provost to extend the current recruitment moratorium for another three years.
Christy elected to extend the moratorium this past May following months of debate and a USG resolution passing in February that called for the end of the moratorium.
The moratorium was first enacted at the end of the spring 2014 semester, following the death of Baruch freshman Chun Hsien “Michael” Deng during a fraternity’s off-campus hazing ritual.
Deng was severely beaten during the ritual, and when he fell unconscious and remained unresponsive, the fraternity brothers waited to take him to the hospital while trying to cover up the activities that eventually caused Deng to die.
In the spring 2015 semester, the moratorium was extended for three more years, leaving social Greek participation to slowly dwindle in the interim.
“My feeling is for me in my role as provost, one death is enough,” Christy said during the interview. “I don’t mean to be glib when I say this or to make anybody feel foolish. But when I get to think of like, well like I want to say to students: ‘Do you need two deaths and then we should stop?’ Because to me one was enough, you know, I don’t need any more evidence.”
Though he understands that no member of the fraternity wanted someone to die, Christy said that this incident took place regardless, and it is something that he never wants to see happen again.
Because as provost Christy could only extend the moratorium, he approached USG in October 2017 to consider discontinuing social Greek life on campus officially. USG’s members were hesitant and claimed that they needed to study the issue more, so Christy gave them until the end of the semester to make a decision.
Members of USG hosted a forum discussing social Greek life in December 2017, which led to the creation of a student survey led by the then-Chair of Clubs and Organizations Arvis Chen on whether social Greek life should be allowed back on campus.
Chen faced difficulties getting the survey approved by the CUNY legal office and had only eight days to collect student responses before the March 2 deadline imposed by administrators arrived. A little over 2 percent of the college’s population — around 400 responses — took the survey.
Chen and other members of that USG administration claimed that they did not have enough time to conduct a proper survey, and that it was difficult at times to get in contact with Christy.
Christy was disappointed in hearing this and said he was reachable “any day.” He also said that he believed he raised the issue with USG long ago and was not trying to rob anyone of the right to conduct a student survey.
He said that he originally wanted to make a decision in October, but pushed the deadline back to accommodate students.
Christy argued that for many current students, Greek life is not a top priority, and that a lot of the advocates pushing for the return of social fraternities and sororities are actually alumni.
“I feel like we made the best decision we can on behalf of students. Now, the world can change in three years,” he said.
“I think that it is going to change in the direction of more schools having moratoriums or discontinuing affiliation with these groups, because I haven’t seen them change in any dramatic way,” he continued.
Metro chapters, when students from a certain area and not just one school become a chapter, were a suggestion offered by members of the administration during the forum for students who wanted to join social Greek life. Christy, however, said that he did not like this suggestion.
He mentioned that one of his fears is another group of students proceeding with hazing without sanctions, which could lead to more incidents.
“Let me tell you that would just be devastating, because you want to feel like you’re doing whatever you can to keep people safe. But, I also know that I cannot guarantee that people are safe. I can just do my best.”
Christy also added, “I sort of feel like [social Greek life is] something we just got to put behind us. The preponderance of logic makes it an easy decision to make. But I don’t make it without a lot of careful thought because I’m not really seeing myself as in the business of shutting down student opportunities or anything else like that. It’s just that here’s where we are.”