“The annual Fraternal Summit took place this past Friday and Saturday, which allowed several conversations about stereotypes and diversity to ensue.
Plattsburgh State has taken actions to promote more diversity on campus. PSUC students Jacob Dubay and Julissa Vera, both Vice Presidents of Standards for the Interfraternity Council and the Inter-Sorority Association, have stated that PSUC has a fraternal summit each semester, which according to the Plattsburgh State website is an annual harm and risk reduction program intended to help fraternity/sorority leaders understand the rationale behind risk management policies, where participation is a requirement of recognition for all fraternities and sororities.
Dubay said each organization hosted several workshops each semester, and there is a diversity committee with a chair person that meets once a week to plan events to help students be more aware about diversity within Greek life.
“This year, the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion added a component to the summit, where if you’re having an event whether it be a social event, a philanthropy event, or a stepping or yard show: How do you make sure that the content of it is not offensive to people?” PSUC Director of Fraternity/Sorority Life Allison Swick-Duttine said.
Throughout the years, there has always been concerns about diversity within Greek life. Many feel they do not belong or that they will not feel welcomed. According to Cornell’s website, only two percent of the population are involved in Greek life.
“Diversity in Greek life is something that can always be improved,”Dubay said.
“It is not a big issue right now at Plattsburgh because our culturally based organizations are very diverse and the ones that aren’t are still diverse,” Dubay added, “whether it be international students, people from different ethnic backgrounds, or different social statuses.”
Swick-Duttine says that fraternities and sororities submit their party themes for approval, but PSUC wants to move away from the approval process because some organizations may not understand why their themes may be problematic, and the students just do it or don’t do it because they don’t want to get in trouble.
“There are always people that cross the line with little things like Halloween costumes or just the things they say that can be offensive to others,” Swick-Duttine said before the summit began. “This summit will hopefully give students the tools they need to confront situations like that and be able to understand why it may be offensive.”
Swick-Duttine said the summit encouraged students to not turn the other way and distance themselves when they see something wrong happening. She wanted students to feel like they can do something about it after leaving the summit.
“It has been said that Greek-life members complete community service because they have to, not because they want to,” Swick-Duttine said. “However, the college doesn’t have a requirement on community service, so that’s a big misconception.”
“Most Greek organizations don’t care about the community, they only care about themselves,” Dubay said , “and it sucks that the very little percentage of organizations that don’t care about their grades and want to just party and drink affect everyone else that actually do care.”
According to greatvaluecolleges.net, the percentage of students involved in Greek life who graduated is higher than those students not involved in Greek life. Only half of those not involved in a fraternity or a sorority graduate, while more than 70 percent of those who are finish their studies.
“One of the universal stereotypes that you will hear about Greek life is that you are buying your friends,” Swick-Duttine said, “Fraternities and sororities are financially self-sustained.
They’re not funded by the university, so they do have to pay membership dues in order to operate as an organization.”
Those are a few of many stereotypes about fraternities and sororities heard by students involved in Greek life.
“Our fraternity and sorority community is set up to be a system of pure accountability, so if there was a problem, there is a standards board that is consisted of students involved in Greek life that would hear the case and make a determination on what the right disciplinary action should be,” Swick-Duttine explained.
Swick-Duttine said that Plattsburgh feels that these organizations will be more successful if they are trained and coached to solve and confront their own issues than if the college was to resolve the problem.
There are currently 24 Greek organizations at Plattsburgh and three more are to be added this year. With that comes reteaching and refreshing the rules and standards to the new groups. The fraternal standards manual can be found on the Plattsburgh State website.
Email Tamiyha Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org