Greek groups form council to address University
Representatives of all 14 fraternities and sororities have come together to form the Princeton Greek Council, which aims to communicate with the University administration to oppose the freshman rush ban recommended in a report by the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life last week.
Fraternity member Jake Nebel ’13 informed Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey and Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan of the group’s formation and willingness to collaborate with the administration in an email on Tuesday afternoon. The message was signed by Nebel and the presidents of nearly all the Greek organizations, though one fraternity and one sorority signed with their chapter names instead.
“Our reasons were, first, to discuss compromise solutions with each other and with the administration so we can have a constructive way to address not just the concerns in the report, but the administration’s other concerns with Greek life,” Nebel said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “Another reason was to provide some streamlined means of communication” between the University and the Greek organizations, he said.
Cherrey responded to Nebel an hour after he sent the letter saying she looked forward to discussing the Council’s concerns at an open forum, to be held tonight at 7:30 in Betts Auditorium to address the report’s recommendations.
Cherrey and Deignan did not respond to requests for comment.
According to Nebel, the council consists of the president and one or two other officers of each fraternity and sorority. He said that all 14 groups had agreed to be a part of the council within 12 hours of the decision to form it.
Kara Dreher ’12, president of Kappa Alpha Theta, said that she thought a council was the best way to constructively persuade the administration not to implement the freshman rush ban.
“We’d love to convince the administration to reconsider the recommendation of the working group with regards to Greek life,” Dreher said. “It’s really important that we ensure that the administration has opened up viable forums for discussion, that a decision isn’t made before we feel like we’ve had the chance to constructively lay out our own concerns.”
The announcement of the group’s formation came directly after Nebel sent University President Shirley Tilghman an open letter that criticized the working group’s lack of statistics to support its claim that membership in a Greek organization limits social and extracurricular opportunities. Nebel also argued that a sophomore rush would only exacerbate the pipeline relationship with eating clubs and claimed that Greek organizations ensure finances are not a concern for students who wish to join.
Nebel said Tilghman did not respond to his email, and she could not be reached for comment.
The letter was signed by 728 students and alumni, although 334 of them decided to remain anonymous. Of these, 30 percent are not affiliated with a fraternity or sorority, Nebel said. Nebel added that he was “more than satisfied” with the number of students who signed.
“My original goal was for there to be 300 signatures total by the time I sent the letter. The reason I say 300 is because that number would then dwarf the sample size of the working group’s data for the report,” Nebel said “The fact that we got 500 within a day is much better.”
The letter was followed by a number of comments from students and alumni who opposed the ban. These comments suggested an overwhelming amount of support for a compromise of postponing rush until the spring of freshman year.
“I think a lot of kids in fraternities would be open to that,” said Croom Beatty ’12, who added that he signed the letter because his fraternity introduced him to people and helped him discover opportunities to which he would not have otherwise been exposed. “Starting rush at the very beginning of the year is definitely too early. Pushing it back would definitely give people time to get their feet on the ground before they have to make any decisions.”
Dreher said that a delayed freshman rush would be a possible compromise that the council would bring up to the administration.
“We as a council have already started discussing timing compromises for the start of rush,” Dreher said. “On a general level it’s still very important to us that it occurs sometime within freshman year, but we are more than willing to take compromised timing to the table.”
Students who signed despite not being affiliated with a Greek organization cited their friends’ positive experiences as well as frustration with the methods by which the University made the recommendation.
“It would have no effect other than getting people kind of pissed off, which would, if anything, have a negative effect,” said Sebastian Gold ’14, who explained that he was recruited for a fraternity but chose not to join.
Rachel Alter ’14 said she found the Greek system fun and accepting despite not being a member of a sorority.
“I’ve gone to a couple of formals with my friends just for fun, different pregames that they’ve thrown,” Alter said. “It’s always been a lot of fun and I don’t feel like it’s exclusive at all.”