By Regan Hewitt
This year’s new member, or “pledge” class for fraternities and sororities is the first to undergo Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Laura Kane’s management of and changes to the Kenyon Greek system. Any changes, apparent or not, to the Kenyon Greek systems of recruitment and pledging stem from a review of campus policies, rather than a specific event that triggered policy changes. Those policy changes themselves were not specified to the Collegian.
Kane, who said she would only comment via email due to time constraints, wrote that the Greek “recruitment process was largely the same … as it has been in past years.” Sean Smith ’16, president of Phi Kappa Sigma (Phi Kaps), agreed that not much has changed. “[The Phi Kaps] haven’t seen that much of an effect,” he said.
President of Epsilon Delta Mu (EDM) Elizabeth Trout ’15 said, “[Kane] reviewed the College policy. … [She] just went through the small print of Kenyon’s Greek life and how pledging is, or should be, run at Kenyon.” According to Trout, Kane felt portions of the rushing and pledging process were not necessarily in line with the rush, recruitment and pledging/new member education outlines found in the student handbook .
Section six of the student handbook outlines Kenyon’s policies toward on-campus Greek life. In addition to that section, the student handbook states that “Ohio is one of 44 states with an anti-hazing law.” Therefore, the College defines itself as “anti-hazing” and any reporting of hazing can be submitted to Kane for further investigation. The handbook also states that “individuals can be held criminally liable” for hazing violations.
As in years past, each Greek organization was allowed to host events to meet prospective members, provided that those events — essentially, the rush schedule — were approved by Kane and a vice president on Greek Council, which Kane advises.
“My first interaction with Kane was the end of last semester, about our rush schedule,” Smith said. “Normally, we have an event where we go to a little shotgun range and shoot clay shells.” Kane did not feel like this was the best publicity; Smith agreed with the claim, saying he was shocked the College ever let the event stand.
Once rush week passed, the new-member-education process began. “It follows a similar approval process [as rush schedules],” Kane wrote.
Smith said, “We send in very specific schedules … and [Kane] signs off on them, to avoid liabilities.” Following this review of events, the Greek organizations’ representatives met to go over these policies. In her email, Kane reiterated that the policy review — and any subsequent changes following from it — was to place an emphasis on safety. “The process was collaborative … and organizations had the opportunity to ask questions,” Kane wrote.
Trout agreed the process was helpful. “Kane helped us rethink and alter some of our traditions that generally defined our sisterhood,” she said. However, when questioned further about what traditions were changed, Trout declined to comment, citing those changes and pledging events as confidential.
Kane also worked with Kenyon’s only current nationally affiliated sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau (Alpha Tau). Bethany Yost, educational consultant for the Alpha Sigma Tau national headquarters, meets with Kane once a week for “logistical reasons, and attends the Greek Council meetings to understand what is going on with the Greek community,” Yost said. She added that “[Kane] really helped the local sorority go national.”
As for the future, Kane promoted the idea of changes to the Greek organizations as an aspect of Kenyon’s growth. “I will always be open to helping the community explore new ideas that can positively impact … students involved in Greek organizations,” she wrote.
Smith said he has been pleased with Kane’s changes, as well as Kane’s new role as director since she joined the College. “She wanted to be more involved but in a kinder, caring manner,” he said. “She wants to help you out on the front end.” He also mentioned that Kane wants to encourage a fall rush period next year, particularly focused on sophomores, that will be distinct from spring rush.
Many Greek organizations declined to comment for this article, including the Archon Society (Archons), Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Taus), Theta Delta Phi (Thetas) and Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKEs). The presidents of Delta Tau Delta (Delts), Zeta Alpha Pi (Zetas), Beta Theta Pi (Betas) and Alpha Delta Phi (ADs) did not respond to requests for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that Elizabeth Trout is secretary of EDM. She is the organization’s president. The Collegian regrets the error.