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Students weigh in on possible Greek life

Posted on 02.06.2013

Discussions initiated by University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel have brought the topic of Greek life to the front of many students’ minds.

Greek life encompasses different chapters of fraternities and sororities that promote charitable service, brotherhood or sisterhood and a sense of community, according to Students who want to join the chapters have to rush the houses, and chapter members bid on prospective members.  They then become pledges in the chapter and are initiated in a formal ceremony. These members traditionally live in off-campus housing.

UIndy has never had a Greek life on campus, but has many educational honor societies. Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli has seen the topic come up before and believes that it is getting more attention in the conversations sessions that Manuel has hosted.

“I think there’s always been an ebb and flow to the conversation. Every year, there are a few students that have brought up the topic. And I think this year [we’re seeing more], because we were specifically pulling students together to ask about what type of changes they would like to see [in the future,]” Vitangeli said.

According to an informal survey conducted by The Reflector, 49 percent of students believe that UIndy should have a Greek life system, while 18 percent believe that the university should not. According to the survey, 26 students believe that Greek life can bring more events to campus, and 52 students believe that these systems give campuses a better sense of community. Two students said that Greek chapters could help keep students around during the weekends, which has been a central topic during most of the Vision 2030 and Pizza with the Prez discussions.

Graphic by James Figy

“That’s the one thing that students have a difficult time telling us—‘what is it that you want’ and ‘what would keep you here?’ And we always find that it is difficult for students to answer that question,” Vitangeli said.

Even with the generally positive discussions, many students believe that a Greek life system can bring negative aspects to campus. Thirty-seven students believe that Greek life could form exclusionary cliques on campus.

“Sometimes Greek systems can be exclusionary. So right now, we have one big community, and I think if you start bringing in different chapters, it could result in people feeling excluded from those types of groups,” Vitangeli said.

According to the official website of the Tau Delta Phi national fraternity chapter, members pay an initial fee of $250 to be part of the fraternity and $125 each semester. Some of this money is put away for starting housing.

UIndy generally buys houses it is interested in around campus at their appraised value and helps the interested homeowner with the associated closing costs, according to Vice President of Business and Finance Mike Braughton. Braughton said that if UIndy were to initiate a Greek life system, the chapters would be responsible for paying for housing. He also said that Greek chapters here would have to do major remodeling and rezoning to create a traditional Greek house that would appeal to pledges.

“I’m thinking in order for it to have the appeal to the students who might be interested in pledging or joining, that it would have to be a facility that you’d have to build,” Braughton said. “I don’t think you could convert any of the housing in the area to a property that could house 20 different fraternity members or sorority members.”

Other costs associated with  Greek life include insurance, which also is provided by the separate chapters.

Vitangeli encourages students who are interested in pitching the idea of Greek life chapters should make sure to do their research and do it for the right reasons.

“[Students should] really [be] thinking about the pros and cons of a Greek system—does it fit our campus culture—and making sure that, before they pursue it, that’s it’s just not a means to stereotypical reasons that people want to go to Greek life,” Vitangeli said. “Some of the things that students want—to go to other campuses because they want to party at Greek houses. If that’s your motivation for wanting to bring a Greek system to campus because that’s really not the tendencies of why those Greek chapters exist.”

Vitangeli believes that Greek life can have positive effects on campus if the right system is put into place. Interested students should make sure that there is enough interest to have a viable community. Students should be prepared to do all of the appropriate research to present to committees, cabinet members and, ultimately, the board of trustees.

“I think there are a lot of positive things that come with the Greek system, in terms of service and community, in terms of getting involved with the outside community and having school spirit,” Vitangeli said. “I think it helps sometimes when you have groups . . . you can have contests and do spirit contests and have things at different events. It could potentially bring a different aspect.”


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