What is happening with Fraternity & Sorroity Life at Franklin & Marshall College?
The College has completed with undergraduate, alumni and inter/national leaders to once again recognize fraternities and sororities as official F&M student organizations. This action comes as part of a comprehensive strategic plan that includes a number of actions designed to enhance the quality of campus life.
This decision brings an end to a period of “de-recognition” that began in 1988. Under that policy, Greek organizations had operated independently of the College, but they had remained a significant feature of the social lives of many students.
Re-recognition came about as a result of a 16-month review process initiated by President John Fry. That review process was overseen by a strategic plan sub-committee and involved consultation with faculty, trustees, alumni and current students.
During its review, the sub-committee found that the policy of de-recognition was not working. It concluded that there were too many negative consequences of a Greek system that was unregulated by the College. Particular problems identified by the sub-committee included risks to student health and safety,reports of hazing, and negative impacts on academic life and student academic performance associated with pledging activities. Finally, all who worked on the guidelines concluded that the rift in the Franklin & Marshall family that had been caused by de-recognition was an impediment to the future of both the College and the Greek system.
Re-recognition will proceed under a set of guidelines that have been endorsed by the faculty, the Alumni Greek Council, and the undergraduate Greek Council and accepted by the College Board of Trustees, Franklin & Marshall's governing body. Underlying the guidelines is the common belief that Greek organizations should operate in a manner consistent with the College's mission and ethos.
What is the philosophy behind this action?
Alumni, students, faculty, trustees and administrators have agreed to transform the current Greek system into a model system that operates in a manner consistent with the values of the College and its liberal arts heritage. The guidelines call for a Greek system that "respects the centrality of academic life" and "demonstrates a fundamental respect for human dignity and a commitment to inclusiveness," concepts which are consistent with the traditional values of each Greek organization.
What are some of the basic guidelines?
Briefly, the guidelines call for:
A governance structure that provides for strong and consistent leadership from Greek alumni and faculty/staff advisers.
A set of standards designed to make academic achievement a cornerstone of the pledge/new member educational process. Both the students interested in joining a Greek organization and the group itself must maintain specific grade point averages.
Measures to prevent hazing. Hazing is illegal under Pennsylvania state law and prohibited by the College's own code of conduct.
A renewed commitment to community service that is in keeping with the College's overall commitment to Lancaster City.
The criteria are pretty strict. What is in it for the Greek organizations?
The Undergraduate Greek Council and Alumni Greek Council formally and unanimously endorsed the recognition guidelines. This endorsement recognizes the many advantages associated with normalized relationships with the College.
For instance, like other recognized College groups, fraternities and sororities will be able to use campus facilities and openly recruit new members. Most importantly, with the support of the College and its Greek alumni, the current system can become one that lives up to the highest ideals of Greek life as well as the values of the College.
The College tried to work with Greek groups before de-recognition 16 years ago. What will be different now?
The decision to de-recognize Greek groups created a rift between the College and some of it alumni and students. These guidelines have the support of alumni and undergraduate Greek leaders, students, faculty, trustees and administrators. Working together will offer the best possible chance for success.
When will the changes be implemented?
Through student initiative, many of the reforms were begun before the guidelines were formally adopted. The remainder will be implemented over the course of the summer and/or phased in early in the 2004-05 academic year.
What can alumni do?
Alumni involvement is critical to the success of this effort. Greek alumni should contact their fraternity or sorority's alumni board for guidance on how they can be involved.
What about Greek housing? Is there a "Greek Row" in F&M's future?
The College does not own the current chapter houses, which are located in various locations around the periphery of the campus. The College has committed to a feasibility study to study future locations for Greek chapter houses for those desiring to improve their existing housing situation or acquire a new facility.
Will the number of students who join Greek organizations rise as a result of this action?
Currently, about 35 percent of the male population joins one of seven fraternities; 15 percent of the females join one of three sororities. These numbers are down significantly from the 1980s. There is optimism about the growth potential of the system, both in terms of members and chapters.