Monday, May 23, 2005

Moratorium, Again

From Marcia Riley's e-mail resent today:

There have been many questions with regard to the specifics of the current moratorium. As stated in the letter issued on Monday, May 9th 2005 by Dean Kenney, this moratorium is in place until further notice and prohibits any chapter sponsored events with alcohol either on-site or off-site. This includes but is not limited to:

  • parties, exchanges & invitationals
  • philanthropy events
  • alumni events
  • BBQs
  • activities hosted by summer boarders on chapter property
  • parties / celebrations with alcohol hosted by individual chapter members on chapter property
Exceptions to the moratorium will be considered on an individual basis. Requests for exception must be submitted in writing at least ten working days prior to the event and will require meeting with an OSL staff member for review. If you have specific questions regarding these provisions, please email dosl@berkeley.edu.

Though I can see how drinking has a strong correlation to unhealthy behaviors and actions that disturb the peace, I fail to see how banning alcohol at ALL events will be productive. Especially glaring are the last two points. How can the school, or anyone for that matter, really ban alcohol consumption by individuals? And, how can fraternities hold boarders accountable for drinking? These are unrealistic and reek of Prohibition--and we all know how that ended.

Furthermore, even though there is allegedly a task force that is geared at reducing underage drinking throughout the campus and not only the Greek system, it is unfair that only one segment of the student population is banned from having alcohol; if this is the case, then every single one of the 28,000 or so undergraduates and even all the graduate students (because 21+ residents in fraternities cannot drink) should not be allowed to drink. I fail to see how "ending" drinking, either in one segment of the population or the whole population, will solve any of the problems that are supposed to be solved.

Any thoughts?

Monday, May 16, 2005

IFC Election Results

The new IFC president is Andy Solari, who was philanthropy chair for the IFC for the 2004 term.

His qualifications include one-and-a-half years as president of Zeta Psi fraternity, a year on IFC, and a year on J-Com. He was also involved with the Cal Lobby Corps, and is affiliated with Cal Dems.

He delivered a very good speech in front of the emergency Presidents' Council meeting held yesterday at Delta Upsilon. In it, he advocated working with the University but also holding firm--achieving a balance between compromise and "flexing muscle." Significantly, and also lacking from the other candidates' speeches, he is aiming to work not only with chapter presidents and the University but with other groups on campus such as the ASUC.

It was interesting to compare the five candidates. Andy was definitely the moderate in the mix, with Tom Rupp from Sigma Nu appearing to be the most conciliatory and Ian Richardson from Sigma Chi appearing to be the most hard-line. Phil Zackler from FIJI and Gordon Wilson from Delta Kappa Epsilon also ran.

Although the situation of having to elect a new IFC president in the middle of the year is never favorable, the summer will give Andy and the execs some time to transition into the new presidency, and will allow the IFC and all other concerned bodies to work with the University on reversing the moratorium. Hopefully, the summer will stop the crazy incidents that have been popping up in the Greek community and make room for cooler deliberations.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Moratorium... looking forward

First of all, I think it's a serious conflict of interest for me to blog here. While I do have a lot of thoughts about "frat" life in general, I've decided this isn't the best forum for me to post them. So, this will be my second, and final post.
As I bid adieu, I would like to share a few thoughts on the current situation of Cal Greeks...

Now is the time to look forward. I know it's frustrating and a lot of us know that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the focus needs to be on what we can do to make our community better.
We need to open our eyes to the fact that our community isn't perfect, and focus on creating positive change. It's definitely easier said than done, but my vision is that in the near future we will go down to 102 Sproul and figure this all out... calmly, rationally, and professionally. Coming out of it with a realistic and enforceable plan of action.
Life isn't fair, the university comes down on the Greeks faster than anyone else when it comes to alcohol and parties... we are who the media loves to pick on, and frankly the university has more authority over us than over any other student entity [sans the dorms].
Seriously though, let's not cry over spilt milk, let's move on.
Although I adamantly believe that a moratorium was not the best plan of action [having one affects those who follow the rules the most], what's done is done.
I know emotions are running high[if you try to tell me that a moratorium was a good idea, i'll probably still get a bit huffy puffy], I strongly believe that now is a time to look forward. Anybody who is interested in finding the solution, please get in touch with me at nith@berkeley.edu .

Greek Alcohol Moratorium Announced

MEMORANDUM
May 9, 2005

To: Chapter Presidents & Leaders of the Greek Community
Fr: Karen Kenney, Dean of Students
Office of Student Life

Re: Immediate Suspension of Alcohol at All Chapter Events

During this academic year, there have been a number of significant incidents within the Greek community about which I am gravely concerned. The significant increase in the number of non-compliant Greek sponsored events as well as concern raised by a number of reported hazing incidents in chapters throughout the Greek community obligate the University to take action. Such disregard for the policies and procedures designed to assist your chapters in having safe events is unacceptable.

Effective immediately and until further notice, there shall be a moratorium on all fraternity and sorority events with alcohol, both at chapter and university houses and at off-campus events.

Be advised that chapters that violate this moratorium shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including the revocation of chapter recognition by the University.

If your chapter has prior plans for hosting an upcoming social event with alcohol, you may continue to host this event as long as the event is alcohol free. This moratorium applies to all chapter events, including those taking place at locations outside Greek chapter houses and off-campus.

While I recognize the recent efforts that have been made by leadership within the community, late incidents leave me no alternative at this time. In an effort to identify the root of these ongoing risk management challenges, a working group including students, staff and alumni will begin this summer to lay the groundwork for long-term solutions. This group will continue to convene and progress until there is significant change within the community. The moratorium will remain in effect until such time as the level of compliance and progress within the community justifies ending it.

Any questions may be directed to the Greek Life Staff.

Cc: IFC, Panhellenic, NPHC and Multicultural Greek Executive Officers
Greek Affairs Staff
Student Judicial Affairs Staff
City of Berkeley Partners (UCPD, BPD, BFD, Dwight Hillside Association)
Chapter Primary Alumni Contacts
Fraternity Alumni Council
Panhellenic Alumni Advisors Council

the worst of times?

So, Andy beat me to it...
my first post is about the letter [e-mail] writing requesting an increased dialogue between Greek leadership and university officials, considering the particularly alarming nature of recent public comments. A shorter sample letter is below.

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau,

Recently, rumors in the Greek Community have abounded that a moratorium on alcohol is impending. These rumors have been fueled by media attention in which high-ranking University officials have consistently mentioned the possibility—even likelihood—of a moratorium. As a member of the Greek Community, I feel that there are many valid arguments as to why this moratorium is ill-timed, unreasonable, and unlikely to solve the problems at hand. It would be a great injustice to make such a wide-sweeping decision without even consulting the leadership and members of the Greek Community so that you might receive this alternate point of view. I urge you to speak with the Greek Community leadership and hold a forum for the members of the Greek Community to give you feedback before you make any decision on this important issue.

Respectfully,

it would be nice if people could send it in to moratorium@lists.berkeley.edu as soon as possible. maybe i'll put up some thoughts about this next week after i'm done w/ my finals. good luck everyone!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Continue Writing Campus Administrators with Your Concern About a Moratorium
For those unfamiliar with this, IFC has urged concerned Greeks to send e-mail to moratorium@lists.berkeley.edu, which will go to various campus administrators, voicing our concern over a possible alcohol moratorium. Here is the sample text of an e-mail, and I would encourage other students can cut and paste sections of this to send off also.

To whom it may concern:

My name is XXX, a fourth year member of XXX. I have served four different positions of my chapter’s executive committee, including as president. Speaking on behalf of myself, XXX Fraternity [or Sorority], and all other Greek students and chapters who are affected by a moratorium, I am shocked and dismayed at the lack of good faith, due process, and ultimately, disrespect shown to the Greek community by the university's administration. I speak to my chapter's president on almost a weekly basis about general topics of discussion within the Greek community, and for the past month all I have heard from him is how the administration is making it harder and harder for the Greek community to thrive, let alone exist. With the outlandish fines and long-lasting probations placed on chapters for minor violations, as well as the general witch-hunt attitude that is permeating the Student and University's judicial offices, many chapters are struggling to make ends meet and sustain their membership.

When I was told that there was a possible moratorium on the horizon, I asked if there was anything that I could do. I was told by my president as well as other members of the Greek council that there were meetings planned with Vice-Chancellor Padilla and Dean of Students Karen Kenney. I was encouraged by this news because I remember that when a moratorium was in effect three years or so ago, the administration was quick to work with the Greek community on an effective inclusive solution. Over the past three years since then, I have worked extensively with the IFC and Greg Smith, Kevin Roy, and Taz Patel, where they were provided with proper resources and outlets to voice concerns, as well as with capable advisors to create a sense of proactive problem-solving between the administration and the Greek community.

However, just recently I was told that the administration's representatives have not showed up at any of the planned meetings and have refused to discuss the situation with any of our chapter's presidents and other representatives of the community. I find this disrespectful to the thousands of students who are members of the Greek community and have basic civil rights that are being infringed upon by over-bearing policies designed to solve a problem that is over-blown within the Greek community, yet is not even being discussed campus-wide. We are all aware that there have been recent events that have shed a bad light on the Greek system and have been a publicity nightmare for the university. However, those are isolated incidents that should not cloud the administration's judgment when dealing with the Greek community as a whole. I feel it would be an overstepping of boundaries to punish the more than fifty Greek chapters on campus for the mistakes of a few.

The other thing that seems to be missing from this discussion are the positives that the Greek community brings to the University as a whole, including tens of thousands of dollars in philanthropy, hundreds of hours of community service, and more school spirit than most of the student body can muster on any given day. I realize that there is pressure on the University to respond to some of the incidents that have occurred over the past weeks, but I find it unacceptable that the administration might come to a unilateral decision affecting thousands of people without hearing the opinions of the people a broad stroke punishment would affect. As a concerned CAL student, Greek member, and Brother to the thousands of other students who have found a home within the Greek community, I implore my fellow students to speak out and make their voices heard, because otherwise the university has no intention of listening.

If anyone would like to discuss the issues with me further, feel free to
respond to me at XXX or XXX.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Office of Student Life Hires New Greek Advisor
Please join us in welcoming Melissa Lang to UC Berkeley as an Advisor and Program Coordinator for Greek Life. We are very excited to have Melissa join our team and we believe her perspective and skills will help the Greek community to both surpass current challenges and continue to realize excellence in the years to come.

Melissa is currently finishing her Masters degree in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Arkansas, where she has served as a Greek Advisor for the past two years. In addition to her academic career, Melissa has worked as a Legislative Assistant in DC and served as a consultant for Alpha Omicron Pi. Through her experiences with Greek Affairs she has advised Panhellenic and co-advised NPHC. She has coordinated the expansion process for Panhellenic, advised to the Greek programming board and Up 'Til Dawn and facilitated multiple leadership programs such as Greek 101 and a new member retreat. Melissa also initiated new programs such as the first annual Greek Week and Hot Pink Ribbon, an organization where sorority women educate other sorority women about violence against women. She completed her internships with Judicial Affairs at the University of Arkansas and in Orientations at George Mason University.

I am sure you will all have an opportunity to get to know Melissa personally over the coming months and the next few years. I know she is looking forward to working with the entire Greek community and our colleagues for quite some time. She hopes to make it to Cal by the beginning of July!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dilemmas

Question: What should we do about the IFC President and VP of Risk Management, whose chapter is under investigation for hazing?

Question: What should the Greek community do: stand united behind a constituent member, or make that chapter an example?

Question: Is hazing only a fraternity issue, or is this shared with sororities?

Question: Will this incident actually stop hazing?

Proposition: While hazing, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault only happens at other chapters (and not our own), we are quick to state that the entire Greek community engages in a high level of community service and maintains excellent standards of scholarship... including even those chapters that only fulfill the requirement of one event per semester.

We cry when people make assumptions about the Greek community when one chapter messes up: it's not fair, it's not fair, we say. However, we want to make sure that honors and recognition bestowed on one chapter are construed as a reflection of the Greek community in general.

This isn't fair to those chapters (and individuals) who are pulling their own weight.

Bios on Candidates Vying for Greek Positions at Berkeley

Here are the details from a recent e-mail from OSL:
Please join us for lunch from 12-1pm on each of the days that these candidates
are on campus. Meeting students will be the cornerstone of their experiences
and I hope we can all show them what a great place this is to work!


Monday April 18th
Forum Location: 36 Sproul
Candidate: Rebecca Jamrozik
Rebecca has worked at the University of South Florida (USF) for the past two years as a Greek Life Advisor. Rebecca serves as the advisor to Panhellenic and Order of Omega and has advised events such as Greek Week and Dance Marathon. She has worked to provide educational programming around leadership development and risk management for all councils and has assisted with Greek expansion at USF. In addition to being a Greek Advisor She concurrently serves as the House Director for an on-campus Kappa Delta chapter house. Prior to her time at USF she served as a full-time professional Student Life Coordinator at Florida Southern College where she advised to Panhellenic. Previous to her time at USF she spent a year as traveling consultant for Alpha Chi Omega.

Tuesday April 19th
Forum Location: 333 Sproul
Candidate: Melissa Lang
Melissa has worked at the University of Arkansas for the past two years as a Greek Life advisor where she has advised Panhellenic and co-advised NPHC. She has coordinated the expansion process for Panhellenic, advised to the Greek programming board and Up 'Til Dawn and facilitated multiple leadership programs such as Greek 101 and a new member retreat. Melissa initiated new programs such as the first annual Greek Week and Hot Pink Ribbon, an organization where sorority women educate other sorority women about violence against women. She completed her internships with Judicial Affairs at the University of Arkansas and in Orientations at George Mason University. Prior to attending graduate school she worked as a traveling consultant for Alpha Omicron Pi.

Thursday April 21st
Forum Location: 333 Sproul
Candidate: Sonja Jensen
Sonja currently serves as the Advisor to Panhellenic and 14 sororities at Iowa State University. The scope of her position includes providing leadership and direction in the areas of Risk Management, Judicial, Recruitment, New Member Education and Scholarship. She has advised on program such as Greek Getaway, Greek Week, Junior Greek Council and Dance Marathon. Additionally, Sonja has facilitated at the National Interfraternity Conference Alcohol Summit and coordinated and facilitated a training weekend for all Greek Executive Council Officers and Chapter Presidents.

Monday April 25th
Forum Location: 333 Sproul
Candidate: Emery Burk
Emery currently serves as the Graduate Coordinator for Greek Life at Eastern Michigan University. He advises presidents for all fraternities and sororities and serves as advisor to Panhellenic and NPHC. In this role he has coordinated leadership retreats and helped institute formal recruitment for Panhellenic sororities. Emery has presented on Black Greek Basics and at UIFI, and coordinated the EMU Alcohol Summit and facilitated at IMPACT. During his internship with the Student LIfe Office at Angelo State University he worked to assess campus climate and create programming to increase overall retention and recruitment of African American Students.


Monday April 26th
Forum Location: TBA
Candidate: Chrysalis Buller
Chrysalis currently serves as an Advisor to IFC at Bowling Green University and is a live-in staff member with Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and a member of Delta Gamma. She is also the Graduate Staff member in charge of Greek Expansion at Bowling Green. She has focused her "Directed Reading" studies on NPHC Fraternities and Sororities and has coordinated programs such as a President's Retreat and Diversity trainings. In other positions during her time in graduate school she has worked with the administration of on-campus chapter houses and residence halls.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Bloggers?

I've got Andy Ratto aboard who is sure to bring the same quality of work from both CalStuff and the Daily Cal. Is there anyone else who would want to sound off on the Greek community?

Remember: the purpose of this blog is not to unilaterally criticize the Greeks because, hell, we've got a lot to offer. But, there is a lot of hypocrisy in this system, and hypocrisy screams to be pointed out.

Any sorority gals who want to join in the fun? Let me know.

Help Pick the New Greek Advisor

Hey, it's Andy from over at CalStuff... "Frat" Boy lent me the keys to this place a while ago, and I'm finally getting around to take it out for a test drive. Time permitting, expect me to spend some time over here discussing some of the big news currently occurring within the Greek System here at Berkeley (and some suggestions about how to bring about some positive change).

The first news I wanted to pass on, as a follow up to the post below, is that the horrendously delayed process of bringing in some new advisors is finally drawing to a close. Someone from OSL was at the President's Council meeting tonight, and she said they are currently reviewing four applicants for the top position. She will be sending out brief bios on those candidates, and I will pass those on to you when they are available.

More importantly, OSL either highly values student input when making this selection, or is pretending to in order to humor us students (I have no idea which it is). To that end, there will be four interview sessions with the prospective candidates, that OSL is strongly encouraging students to attend. Here are the details on those meetings:

  • Monday, April 18th, 12-1pm 36 Sproul Hall
  • Tuesday, April 19th 12-1pm 333 Sproul Hall
  • Thursday, April 21st 12-1pm 333 Sproul Hall
  • Monday, April 25th 12-1pm 333 Sproul Hall
Crucially, there will be food at these sessions, and although that hasn't been finalized, I definitely heard something about cheese, which bodes well. Cheeseboard... cheesy sticks... it's all good!

Where Are the Greek Advisors?

In case you haven't been aware, the University has been looking for new Greek Advisors to replace Rob Maneson and Tiffany Jones, whom I feel were vastly unappreciated and probably overworked due to the thankless nature of being a Greek Advisor.

Actually, they are only hiring one Greek Advisor; they are additionally creating the position of Assistant Director of Greek Life. So, the hierarchy is: IFC/Panhellenic, Greek Advisor, Assistant Director of Greek Life, Director of Greek Life, Director of Student Life, and then the Dean of Students.

I'm not very optimistic about this whole process. It will take someone of a very high caliber and great fortitude to deal with the shit dealt by both the University and the Greek community. Let's face it... we want someone who will help us drink and party, and then defend us when things go awry. Unfortunately, the Greek Advisor / Asst. Director of Greek Life are paid and employed by the University, and the University's number one priority is to reduce risk and therefore liability.

The argument has long been made against the existence of IFC; many people ask why the IFC is necessary and why they have to pay dues to support an organization that doesn't directly benefit them. This is a subject that deserves its own post, but in a nutshell being a part of the IFC, in addition to being required by most national headquarters, reduces risk for chapters in that serving alcohol to minors is not a criminal offence but something to be taken care of by the Judicial Committee and/or Student Judicial Affairs. The relationship I am drawing here is that the Office of Student Life (and in particular the Greek Life contingent) serves roughly the same purpose as IFC (as buffers), and are both probably just as held in less-than-high regard by their constituencies.