Last Thursday, seven students put forth a 70-plus-page document petitioning the reinstatement of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) to the College for deliberation by Greek Council. The petition covered every aspect of what the Greek Council Constitution and Bylaws list as requirements to join as a probationary member. Instead of moving on to the next step in the reinstatement process, the petitioners were left guessing for answers as their petition was rejected via secret ballot by an undisclosed margin and for undisclosed reasons.
The Collegian disagrees with the decision to reject the fraternity’s petition. The decision to reinstate the DKEs should be a democratic process, and Greek Council’s votes should not be by secret ballot, which impedes accountability.
There are two mentions of the eligibility requirements needed to become a Greek Organization in the Greek Council Constitution and Bylaws. Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution states that “To be recognized, a new group must complete the process and procedures as outlined in the Greek Council Bylaws, as well as the policy and procedure of Student Council and the Office of Student Engagement.” Article X, Section 2 of the Bylaws says that “Any prospective student organization requesting affiliation with Greek Council must first meet with the Office of Student Engagement to review the Student Organization Handbook Procedures,” and “upon completing necessary items for becoming a student organization, the student organization may formally request affiliation with Greek Council by attending a meeting of the General Session.”
After examining the petition, we at the Collegian believe that the DKE petition addressed all the necessary issues and concerns with their reinstatement, and that the chief causes for dissenting votes are due to a combination of a belief that the organization did not get punished hard enough, personal squabbles with members who will not be a part of the next iteration of DKE and a fear of added competition for first-year recruits. None of these reasons, in our opinion, are valid enough for voting against the petition.
The purpose of Greek Council is to advocate for the shared interest of the Greek community, but their decisions affect the broader student body. The actions that Greek Council takes have wider ramifications for the student body, as many first years will interact with the organizations well before they make the decision to enter into the recruitment process. Therefore, it is imperative that the decisions made by Greek Council can be backed up by transparency in the decision-making process.
While individual members certainly play large roles in Greek Council, at its heart the organization is a representative democracy. The Greek Council Bylaws call for secret ballot for both election of officers and for legislative matters. While there are arguments for secret ballot for officer elections (weakly, in our opinion), there are massive accountability issues with a legislative body hosting secret ballot votes for legislative matters. The generally accepted purpose of secret ballots in our society is to protect individuals from social ostracization and protect their vote from being swayed by physical threats from a tyrannical majority. In this instance, no group or individual is in harm’s way; instead, the secret ballot serves as a cover for groups to hide behind without being held accountable for their vote.
Greek Council’s constitution stipulates that they not only serve as the legislative body for Greek organizations, but also as a liaison between Greek organizations and the appropriate governing bodies when it comes to matters involving College policy. When the DKEs were initially suspended for violating the College’s hazing policy, the role of liaison played by Greek Council is obstructed by their opaque process. In light of Greek Council’s obligations to the student body at large, we implore them to consider a more transparent process.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Becca Foley ’20, a member of Zeta Alpha Pi, Adam Schwager ’20, a member of Delta Tau Delta, and executive director Tommy Johnson ’20. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.