Facebook invitations fall under Greek rush ban
The University announced that Tilghman had approved the recommendations of the Committee on Freshman Rush Policy, which was tasked by Tilghman with determining the specifics of the ban. The Committee released its report outlining its recommendations on March 25.
“In my view, the committee’s recommendations are clear, thoughtful, fair and comprehensive in identifying prohibited activities and in describing the consequences that students would face for any violation of the policy,” Tilghman said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Tilghman made two modifications to the committee’s proposed wording of the policy in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities; she added the clarification about use of “electronic means” for solicitation and also added a clause stating that the ban on freshman rush only applies to organizations that Princeton students can join.
Tilghman said in an email to The Daily Princetonian that she included the clarification about online solicitation because students at an open forum on April 2 raised the issue of whether this type of recruitment would be allowed under the rush ban.
“Rather than leaving this issue ambiguous, the committee decided to make it explicit that the ban included electronic solicitations,” Tilghman said.
This modification about online solicitations extends to venues such as Facebook, where students can be added to a group or event without their explicit approval. If a freshman were added to a fraternity or sorority Facebook page or event, Tilghman confirmed, this would constitute a violation of the policy. However, Tilghman said that the student who invited the freshman — and not the freshman himself or herself — would receive the appropriate punishment.
Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan, who chaired the Greek Life Implementation Committee, said in an email that if a freshman was added without the student’s approval to a Facebook page affiliated with a fraternity or sorority, the University would use a “reasonable person” test to judge whether the policy had been violated.
Kara Dreher ’12, a former president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, said she was not surprised by Tilghman’s approval of the ban and noted that she felt the clarification about online solicitation was understandable.
“I thought it was implied by the recommendations for the ban itself,” she said.
Tilghman said that the second clarification, which explains that this policy only applies to organizations open to Princeton students, was intended to inform students that attending a Greek-sponsored event at another school would not violate Princeton’s policy.
“This clarification was intended to cover a circumstance where a student attended a fraternity or sorority party at another university, organized and attended by students from that university,” Tilghman explained. Since Princeton students would not be able to gain membership in such an organization, the policy would not apply to such an event.
Former Alpha Epsilon Pi president and committee member Jake Nebel ’13 said that this clarification was neccessary.
“Without this clarification, there could have been fraternities at other schools that asked Princeton students to join,” Nebel said. “Without this clarification in the policy, people might think it’s OK to join these fraternities because they’re not at Princeton,” he explained.
In addition to the question about online recruitment, the April open forum featured many students who expressed concerns about the perceived ambiguity in the report’s definition of a fraternity- or sorority-sponsored event.
Others said the policy was ripe with potential for discrimination against affiliated students and overreach into students’ personal lives.
At the meeting, Deignan sought to assuage these concerns by noting that she will not be seeking to bring cases against Greek-affiliated students.
Nebel said at the meeting that students affiliated with Greek life expressing fear of casually interacting with freshmen were acting “paranoid.”
Hanging over the entire discussion was the implication in the report that if there is not widespread compliance with the policy next year, the University will consider banning fraternities and sororities altogether. Students concerned with the potential for overreach in this policy worried that the University would seek to find violations next year in order to justify a future further prohibition on sophomore, junior and senior affiliation.
Tilghman told the ‘Prince’ in March that some members of the Board of Trustees had hoped for a complete ban on Greek organizations. The idea to ban only freshman rush came from the report of the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential life, which was released May 2, 2011.
After the trustees approved the Working Group’s recommendations in August, Tilghman appointed the members of the Committee and charged them with drafting the exact language of the policy and determining an appropriate punishment.
Tilghman explained on Tuesday that she will only know how successful the ban has been with time.
“The effectiveness of the policy … will be based on the degree to which Princeton students adhere to the policy,” she said. “We will assess this at the end of each academic year.”