The Undergraduate Student Government senate officially passed a resolution in support of ending the moratorium on fraternity activities during its Feb. 27 meeting. The resolution came just prior to a March 2 deadline imposed by David Christy, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. Christy, while asking for USG’s stance on the matter, is ultimately responsible in making the final decision for the moratorium. The provost’s final deadline for making the decision is on June 1 and he is free to decide on a course of action at any time beforehand.
Authored by Andrew Windsor, co-chair of the Constitutional Review Committee, the fraternity resolution was officially co-sponsored by 10 members of the senate: Suleman Aleem, David Barros, Arvis Chen, Alexander Dimcevski, Aaron D’Souza, Emma Jorgensen, Rachel Liang, Brandon Paillere, Nicole Taniguchi and Erica Yang. The senators signed their names to the document, which primarily urged the provost to end the ban on chartering, recruiting for or operating for social Greek life clubs on campus.
In a statement to The Ticker, Windsor said, “I do not believe it just for the administration to prohibit thousands of innocent undergraduates from joining a certain sect of student life because of the tragic actions of a separate group.”
The current senate table was officially informed of its upcoming March decision by the provost just prior to its Nov. 14 senate meeting. Since this time, USG hosted a Greek life forum on Dec. 5 in order to gauge how the student body felt, inviting current students as well as former members of Baruch Greek life to engage in discussion.
Chen, the chair of the Clubs and Organizations Committee, also circulated a survey starting Feb. 22, eight days before the deadline, via USG’s social media platforms.
While Chen had tabled for the first time on Feb. 27, according to him, he had problems securing tabling after creating the survey. He had unofficially asked a Student Life staff member to secure tabling for the week of Feb. 26 and discovered that USG had not been given tables.
Due to an empty booked table, USG was able to table on the second floor lobby on Feb. 27.
The survey was produced in conjunction with Baseline — an outside survey company — in order to create the most functional and least biased questionnaire. The survey, however, has not been approved by the CUNY legal office. As of press time, the survey garnered 345 responses.
Originally, Chen asked Christy for an extension on the deadline through March 9, but was denied because the provost did not want the fraternity issue to become a talking point in USG’s upcoming election season in March.
The survey was meant to officially gather an idea of what the student body felt about social Greek life and whether or not students believed it should come back to campus. The questions asked whether students supported lifting the moratorium, what their opinion on social Greeks were and if students were willing to pay more in their student activity fees for Greek life, among others.
As of Chen’s report during the senate meeting, responses were around 68 percent in support of bringing social Greek life on campus, 20 percent against and 12 percent unsure.
Chen concedes, however, that not every response included a student’s EMPL ID number or other important identifying factors. Chen also explains that the ideal sample size should be between 1,200 and 1,500 responses, with the current sample size being disproportionate to those figures.
“I’m worried that this vote isn’t indicative of what the student body really thinks,” President Isabel Arias explained. She added that “just yesterday the survey result was fifty-fifty.”
Damali Smith, the director of Student Life, also explained during the meeting that “every single semester we have had a case of hazing.” Smith, however, declined to comment on either the meeting or the hazing to which she alluded.
Windsor, who read the document line by line in order to ensure that the wording was sufficient for the table and co-sponsors, argued that if USG was “truly concerned, they would actually regulate them than let this continue in an ‘underground club market.’”
The document primarily cited the declining Relay for Life funds following the moratorium, the provost’s mission to enrich students as leaders and other documents. The document ultimately argues to lift the moratorium and to prevent other moratoriums from occurring under similar circumstances, in which organizations of the same kind are banned because of an individual club’s actions.
While the voting majority of the table was in support of the resolution, Representative Sen. Tarak Chowdhury, as well as Treasurer Suzanna Egan and Arias expressed opposition.
As the senate meeting discussions proceeded, however, several senators expressed that the surveys, as well as the senators themselves, cannot always represent the majority of students accurately. Many members argued that it was their duty to not only represent the majority, but to support the niche groups of students and give those groups a voice.
In an interview with The Ticker, Yang explained her standpoint: “As of this moment, we do not know what the majority of students feel about social Greek life and whether they would want it to be allowed back on campus. We may never know what the majority of students think. What we have seen is a sizable number of students who do want to see social Greek life back on campus. I believe that it is our responsibility to support these students.”
In discussion, Yang argued that by bringing fraternities into the spotlight, they could begin regulating them instead of allowing them to operate underground on their own, free from accountability and rules. Greek organizations would be subject to more scrutiny than other clubs — in addition to the hoops that clubs must jump through in order to get chartered and stay active on campus, fraternities would also need to correspond with the chair of clubs and organizations heavily.
Representative Sen. Brian Ronquillo, however, disagreed. “Hasn’t that system failed us already? When someone charters a social frat and has hazing — any degree of hazing — it could grow year by year. Measuring that is hard and, personally, I can’t oversee that.”
Referring to the death of Chun Hsien “Michael” Deng, a student who passed away because of hazing activities by the fraternity Pi Delta Psi, Arias also contested the sentiment, asking Yang, “Tell me how you regulate them so this never happens again. I don’t think an [Office of Student Life] advisor can make sure this will never happen again.”
Arias later argued against allowing fraternities to get chartered just so OSL can formally regulate them.
“They’re operating underground this way and hurting Baruch students actively. [You want to] have people openly join this organization? Find people willing to sell their soul to this? This is what’s stopping them from getting any Baruch student to do this. They don’t have access to the entire Baruch population.”Frat Resolution (2)