June 10, 2013

On June 10, 2013, the Greek Life Task Force met to begin work on its second charge: to make recommendations on the role Greek organizations can play on our campus and the ways they can serve our students and the larger community, consistent with the Mission of the College, the Potsdam Pledge, College policy, and local and state laws.

We are charged with making recommendations to the President’s Council. But we believe the Task Force should also work to foster communication between the disparate groups involved in Campus Greek Life and help facilitate the development of programs and policies that will build on the College’s past successes. Our plan, then, is to hold a series of visioning sessions with stakeholders to “brainstorm” ideas that will help move us forward; our hope for these sessions is that the stakeholders will identify the changes they themselves can initiate. These stakeholder communities will include:

  • The Office of Student Affairs, to be represented by the Dean, Directors and Assistant Directors;
  • Greek Alumni, to be represented by the current Greek Alumni Council (GAC) and other invested Alumni;
  • Academics, to be represented by the faculty advisors of Greek organizations and other invested faculty and staff;
  • the at-large SUNY Potsdam student community, including Greeks and non-Greek students, and
  • the Village of Potsdam community, to be represented by residents who live near off-campus Greek houses and other invested village residents.

Over the next several weeks, we will contact stakeholders to plan these visioning sessions. While we may be unable to meet with faculty/staff advisors and students until the beginning of the fall semester, we hope to have the other sessions completed by mid-August.

Additionally, over the summer, members of the Task Force, along with Julie Dold, will visit several other campuses. Our plans are to visit St. Lawrence University, Clarkson University and SUNY Canton to encourage cross-campus communication but also to consider partnerships that will enhance Greek Life in St Lawrence County. We will also visit SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Geneseo, both of which have dramatically decreased incidents of hazing and alcohol abuse by Greek organizations, and increased the integration of Greeks with the larger campus communities. 

There are clearly a host of issues that we will need to consider, of which the two most important continue to be hazing and alcohol-related incidents. We expect that many more issues will emerge from our visioning sessions.

However, the Task Force noted some questions/issues we find particularly important:

  • Given criticisms of the Task Force’s credibility/objectivity by members of the College community, would it be appropriate to bring in an outside consultant, with no ties to the College?
  • What processes or personnel can be put in place to overcome a complaint we heard from several groups, who say “We don’t have anyone on our side”?
  • Does the current campus judicial process best serve the needs of the College and the interests of Greek organizations?
  • Does the current Greek governance process best serve the needs of the College and the interests of Greek organizations?
  • How can the College help support consistent and positive alumni involvement in chapter governance in general, and new member education programs in particular?
  • What is the best path for the College and the Greek Community to deal with people or organizations – recognized, unrecognized or banned – who persist in dangerous actions or refuse to adjust their behavior to contribute to positive changes in campus Greek culture?