At the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) general assembly on Sunday, May 3, members of the WSA voted 27-1 to pass Resolution D: Community Initiatives to Reform and Regulate Greek Life at Wesleyan University. The resolution was written primarily by seniors Matt Leibowitz and Alex Pack, both members of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), and the resolution has eight sponsors other than Leibowitz and Pack: Nicole Brenner ’15, Scott Elias ’14, Ben Marvin-Vanderryn ’17, Lucy Finn ’14, Jackie Freed ’15, Michael Creager ’15, Lily Donahue ’15, and Madison Moore ’16. There are also 10 official sponsors of the document, including current students and alumni.
The resolution calls for increased regulation of Greek life on campus, including the creation of an Office of Greek Life, Greek Life Safety Standards, and a Greek Life Judicial Board, which would discipline and police members of Greek organizations in addition to the Student Judicial Board (SJB).
Leibowitz described his motivation for creating the resolution.
“I’ve been working on this issue since freshman year, trying to figure out how within the fraternity system at Wesleyan I could work to create a culture of consent in these organizations,” Leibowitz said. “With all the conversations and resolutions right now on campus, I thought it was important to have additional measures to change the culture regardless of what steps the administration takes on co-education. This [means] things like trainings and required standards for parties that would make the culture safer regardless of what happens with these three organizations.”
Leibowitz and Pack both mentioned that the resolution grew out of numerous internal conversations of AEPi members as well as conversations with members of other Greek organizations who shared the goal of creating a Greek system with increased oversight.
“Greek life sort of exists in the shadows and [has] to do its own thing,” Pack said. “[They] set [their] own rules and regulations to a large extent, especially Greek organizations that are not housed. [In AEPi], we’ve always tried to have conversations internally about sexual violence and how we can act responsibly and live up to standards…. But [I] worry that there is only so much that individual members of an organization can do to change the culture [in the long term], so we thought that a lot of these reforms…would be a way to make sure that the best part of these organizations [are] maintained and grow, while the worst parts are weeded out over time.”
Resolution D comes soon after the controversial passing of Resolution B, a document demanding that fraternities with houses become coeducational or disband. The writers of Resolution D stated that it was created independent of B and is not meant to contend B’s passing.
“It is completely neutral to Resolution B,” Leibowitz said. “Regardless of what action the administration or the WSA takes on [Resolution B], this is something completely separate. These are important measures to take within these organizations so that they’re more regulated.”
However, as Brenner (who is Chair of the Student Budget Committee and Vice President-elect of the WSA) acknowledged, the resolutions may not be able to exist together.
“I think it’s definitely a complicated situation…having both these resolutions out on the table, especially when they kind of are different or kind of could work together,” Brenner said. “I’m not really sure how they’ll end up working together or if they’ll just be one.”
Marvin-Vanderryn, a member of the WSA Academic Affairs Committee, spoke about his reasoning for not supporting fraternities becoming coeducational.
“A lot of the argument has said that these are unsafe spaces for women, and I’m not sure the solution to that is putting women into the spaces,” Marvin-Vanderryn said. “I think I’m really concerned about the first two years because if we say that there’s a culture there that is harmful to women, the first couple of years when that culture still exists, I’m really nervous to see how that’s going to go over…. I just think that [coeducation] has been held up as this idea that will radically change the culture, and I’m not sure it will.”
Finn, co-founder of Rho Epsilon Pi [Rho Ep], came at the issue of coeducation from a different viewpoint. She believes that creating spaces for the other Greek organizations on campus will help with sexual assault.
“In my fight for trying to get a female-run space on campus for Rho Ep I have realized that [President Michael Roth] and his administration are against all Greeks and because of this I worry that the conversation about sexual assault prevention is getting sidetracked by a separate [desire] to eliminate Greek life at Wesleyan…” Finn wrote in an email to The Argus. “I agree that there is a problem with male-dominated spaces on this campus and that it promotes an unhealthy social dynamic, but I believe this problem can be changed not by attacking, blaming, and forcing change on the existing spaces, but creating new ones for the minorities that deserve a home on this campus.”
Anya Morgan ’14 supports both Resolution B and Resolution D and hopes that the University will eventually support coeducation in fraternities.
“While I’m very hesitant to support any expansion of Greek life and organizations on campus, I support the idea of increased oversight as long as it is used in tandem with coeducation,” Morgan said. “Roth has said that he won’t put [coeducation] into effect until fall 2015…and I think this is probably the best we can do…in the meantime.”
Elias, a WSA representative on the Sustainability, Facilities, and Finance Committee and Beta Theta Pi member, spoke about what he thinks needs to be done beyond the resolution.
“I think there needs to be more educational partnerships between Greek organizations and athletic teams with SART [Sexual Assault Response Team], the Title IX Policy & Education Committee, and our Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator,” Elias wrote in an email to The Argus. “In particular, there should be more male-to-male dialogue and education on sexual assault, gender dynamics, and social justice issues so that males are pushed out of their comfort zone and critically engaging with how they need to be more conscious of their privilege and what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior.”