Poll: Should Colgate allow additional sororities or fraternities?

Women are 55 percent of the student body, but Colgate allows only three sororities. There are five fraternities.
Women at Colgate have been pleading for additional sororities.  They want the opportunities for student leadership, personal responsibility, and life-long friendships that come with living in a sorority.  But, because of the Trustees’ policy, only a limited number of juniors and seniors will be able to live in a Colgate-owned Greek-life house.
Sorority women are not the only students at Colgate asking for parity.  Last semester, the Association of Concerned Collegians led a 100-hour sit-in to force discussion about diversity issues.  Of its 21-point list of “concerns and actions”, the only request the Administration refused was to create multicultural sororities and fraternities at Colgate.
Instead, the Colgate Trustees’ 2014-2019 Strategic Plan mandates that all students will live their first two years in a faculty and staff-led Residential Learning Community (RLC).
University Chaplain and Catholic Campus Minister Mark Shiner and his wife, Professor of Psychology and Presidential Scholar Rebecca Shiner, will lead the Residential Commons at Curtis and Drake Halls, the first of five anticipated RLCs.  Mr. Shiner noted that the RLC is aimed at “restructuring the first-year and sophomore residential life experiences…to improve the more problematic aspects of this campus, and to create a seamless connection between social and academic lives.”
In many ways, the concept of the RLC is a nod to the success of Greek-life houses, with an added academic component. Colgate says that each “RLC will adopt is own unique traditions and activities that will create a sense of belonging – and enjoyment – for affiliated members.”
The policy begs the question: If Colgate will allow students to create their own communities, should additional sororities and fraternities be included in those options?
 Sept. 2015  YES 68%  NO 32%  total 88 responses


Greek life is a part of Colgate’s history and it’s something that makes Colgate unique as a Division 1 school with Ivy-level academics. Lots of other schools that compete with us for applicants do not have that to offer and I think it’s something people come to us with. If done right, Greek life is something that can add to campus life, connect people who might not have otherwise become friends, and provides social networks to those who choose to join it. Right now, it’s far too selective because so many people want to be a part of it – give it color, give it diversity, give people options. Keep Greek life, but do it justice, do it right.

In a day and age when Colgate pride itself on the reputation it has built, internally, the reputation is tarnished. Campus rapes are up, campus depression statistics are up, and Colgate tries to push this to the side. By not allowing more sororities to join the Colgate Campus, we are systematically telling women they do not belong. I was in a sorority my 3 years at Colgate and do not regret this decision. I was given the opportunity to find my voice and meet new women that otherwise I would have never met. One thing I do note, is with a pledge class size of 50, I felt like who I was didn’t exactly fit the bill of my sorority. It would have been so much more beneficial to have a pledge class of 30 and more sororities to find a place where I truly fit in. Colgate thinks that Greek life is the ENEMY, which I do not understand. How is “RLC” any different? There is a set number of slots and you have to be accepted by peers. Colgate is participating in sexism (i.e not having enough sororities and ignoring the women in their campus), and being very narrow minded. By not letting women through parties, you are allowing the men to be in control of the alcohol, which leads to more rape. By limiting the number of sororities you limit our strength in numbers, allowing more rape. Lastly, by limiting the sororities you limit the way women define themselves. The percentage of women is HIGHER than the percentage of men at Colgate, and yet our voices are not heard. I keep receiving emails as to why I won’t donate to Colgate and my answer is this: why would I donate to an institution that won’t listen to me, and has proven year over year that women are disposable and they don’t care about what we think. You have the opportunity to change this! Why not take the chance?

There’s interest from the students, and it is a disservice to them to restrict membership because Colgate can’t figure out ways to deal with underage drinking. Hint: showing a movie in Olin at 9pm isn’t a realistic way of providing things to do.
The problem is not the Greek system. Rather, the regrettable, and at times abhorrent, behavior of a small number of individuals taints all Greek residents. The problem is the supervision of the Greeks. In view of the decade-long explosion in the size of the administration, it is surprising that this office is not properly staffed. For proof of the need, look at the number of women pledging the sororities.

There are enough Greek organizations! Enough is enough! The social scene is utterly dominated by Greeks which are exclusionary and dangerous.

I would like to see only additional sororities. While the fraternities are completely unchecked and uncontrolled, the sororities are so strictly regulated by residential life and campus safety that it almost defeats the purpose. The school looks the other way when the fraternities have weekly parties where sexual assault and alcohol poisoning are rampant, but the sororities are threatened with losing their charter every time campus safety finds a beer in their kitchen.

It’s important for Colgate to listen to the needs and wants of students.

The school is making a serious mistake. My fraternity was the greatest experience I had at Colgate. It has formed the strongest bonds with classmates that still last to this day. If the school of afraid of hazing, look at its sports teams which have more traditional hazing than any fraternity at Colgate, and I have talked to many Greek alums from all houses. If the sports teams are allowed to get away with it, it begs the question why the director of athletics earns 50% more than the president of Colgate and is allowed to let it happen.

Recent alum here. I should say first that I absolutely loved my time in Hamilton. There was something truly magical about the experience, and I am a very proud alum who raves about Colgate every chance he gets. I should also mention that, while I certainly studied hard, I was also plenty active in the social scene. I did club sports, and most Friday and Saturday nights I was either at a party or downtown at the Glass, enjoying a night out with my friends. This is all to say that I’m not the kind of person who rejects frats and sororities out of hand because they promote a “party culture” or whatever. I like to throw down from time to time, and most 18-22 year olds do, too. That word “magical” has come up many times in my conversations with other alums, as we try to explain why we are so enthusiastic about Colgate. It’s hard for any of us to say where the ”magic” comes from, but I think it comes down to two things. First, relative to its size, Colgate has a disproportionately high number of opportunities available to its students. I had a friend who got to serve as an assistant athletic trainer on a DI sports team, another friend who was heavily involved in Broad Street Records, a third friend who volunteered at Hamilton central school, working with middle school kids, a fourth and a fifth friend who were co-hosts of a show on WRCU. I have classmates who studied abroad in places as diverse as Chile, Geneva, London, and Israel. I have friends who decided to pursue a PhD in grad school, because they had such a good experience working on research projects with professors at Colgate itself and at places like the NIH. Second, and this is key, Colgate is small enough such that there is a real sense of community. These awesome experiences I’m describing were SHARED experiences. During one of our nights out, my friends and I would grab a table at the Glass, and, throughout the evening, we would be joined by various friends and acquaintances. Some of them would complain to us about how things weren’t going well in lab. Others we’d share a laugh with, reminiscing about some cultural misunderstanding that occurred while we were abroad together. Often, they’d be pushing us to join them in their endeavors. The friend who worked at Broad Street Records would be pushing us to come to Gatestock. The friends who had the radio show would invite us on as guests. The friend doing research would invite us to come to a physics colloquium. As we shared in these experiences with our friends, our horizons grew, and our college experience got richer. But here’s the rub: I never had an exchange like this with someone who lived in a frat or a sorority. Greek life, as it exists today, is inherently exclusionary. You cannot argue that it isn’t. To join a Greek house, its members have to decide to let you in. Officially this decision is based on a week of socializing (bad enough as it is), but unofficially it’s often based on whether or not you know someone already in the club (even worse), or whether or not you’ve been attending dirty rush events as a freshman (awful). This process excludes people that are shy and people who don’t already have connections to the house. It often excludes people who are minorities. (If you think it doesn’t, then let me ask why minority students felt the need to create this: http://brotherscolgateuniversity.weebly.com/#/news/). Colgate is a wonderful place, but that is in spite of the frats and sororities, not because of them. The move the administration needs to make is to dissolve them entirely, not add more.

Sororities build leaders. I attribute much of my personal and professional development through lessons I learned as part of a sorority and the opportunity to take on leadership positions.

I understand wanting to limit Greek Life on campus, both because of the reputations related to partying and drinking and to preserve all of the other wonderful groups and activities that are so important to the student body. However, adding one or two sororities to give women the same opportunities as men will not affect the amount of partying that goes on at this school. Having so few options for the large amount of women that are interested creates a more hostile atmosphere in a system that, at its core, is really about fostering bonds.

To compare the inequities facing women at Colgate who can’t get another social club on campus to the struggles that inhibit the learning experiences of students’ of color on this campus is the kind of ignorance that will stall progress at Colgate. Next time, think about how you present the relative importance of Colgate’s issues when you ask for survey participation.

All Greek life should be removed.

Less choices in sororities (over fraternities) leads to too large sororities.
Administration should lighten up on controlling students’ lives. College years are a time for growing up & learning how to make decisions. I am concerned that the administration has been captured by the “politically correct” folks.
Colgate should not be in the business of promoting or sanctioning sororities or fraternities. The actual values of such organizations run counter to those the university is attempting to promote. Any positives aspects of such organizations are far out weighed by the negatives. There is no need for residential communities to be linked to national organizations outside the university system.
Yes says it all.
They’re essential to the college experience and foster a more authentic community environment than faux residential learning communities that can only result to mimic the exact thing that the university is trying to eradicate.

Too large a percentage of students are already in Greek life. Greek life requires significant reforms to even consider expanding it.

I answered yes but this is not an endorsement of frats and sororities as residential options. There is absolutely no need to have fraternity houses or sorority houses with students living in them . The university is correct to follow the lead of Harvard, Yale and many others: establish RLCs as the place where students live (at least for the first two years on campus) with faculty oversight and engagement in various social programs, and then of course allow students to pursue other social organizations, whether those are clubs, sports teams and/ or sororities/ fraternities.

This is about providing more women the opportunity to be a part of greek life. The sororites are already massive because there are only three. If there was an additional sorority, the same number of women could partake, but the sororities themselves would be smaller and therefore sisterhood would be stronger. The frats are the main source of entertainment on campus, so an additional frat wouldn’t be a bad idea either. This isn’t about students wanting “faculty led life learning communities”. This is about equality for the sororites and the ability for more women to partake in greek life.

My daughter attends a university with Living Learning Communities for freshmen. The intellectual, personal and social growth the LLC afforded her is far better than anything Colgate could have provided. Her critical thinking deepened, her enthusiasm intensified, and her friendships are diverse and deep. Fraternities run the social life of Colgate, and no matter what image they try to portray, they are all about parties. Adding sororities for women would be meeting men at the lowest common social denominator. LLCs are a more modern, egalitarian, and healthy option. Colgate should step into the future in this way.

I say yes mainly because I feel that the imbalance between Fraternity and Sorority power is enormous, as experienced from my time in a fraternity. It has always been highlighted in bright colors by the difference in every process in greek life, between the men and the women, most especially by the number of sororities on campus. If the community overall chooses to maintain a tradition of greek life on campus, I believe women should 1) Have the ability to create additional sororities, such that the number of sororities and fraternities are more even, 2) Have more social power through policy. I am unsure if it was due to policy or just the social culture, but in my time at Colgate sorority women rarely held social events. Was it because they were not allowed to hold them in their houses? Was it because they chose not to? Im not sure. However, I believe there are policy changes possible that would push the greek male/female power balance to a healthier place. The male/female power balance across campus, in fact, could use a fair dose of adjustment.

The opportunity for students to govern themselves and create small communities within the time of attending college yield a surprising number of valuable life lessons. Allowing additional fraternities and sororities can provide more leadership opportunities and more places in which to learn these life lessons. This expansion would position Colgate students to take charge after Colgate and would enhance their learning experience.

I don’t care if colgate allows additional frats/sororities, but the fact that it’s REQUIRING students to live in some faculty-led residential system is completely absurd. The whole “to improve the more problematic aspects of this campus” concept sounds incredibly paternalistic and sinister. I’m happy to graduate from Colgate when such ridiculous mandates were nonexistent. I will no longer be donating to Colgate’s Alumni Fund going forward.

Colgate should 100% continue to support and grow Greek life on campus.

As a woman who was in a sorority within the last few years, it was clear to me that women and men were treated differently in regards to their greek life choices. While fraternities were able to maintain small, intimate class sizes, women struggled to get to know even the 70+ other women in their class alone. Rectifying this obvious difference in treatment of men and women should be a priority to improve the lives of many at Colgate.

I think the Trustees are on a much better track w/RLCs. Both fraternities and sororities should be banned at Colgate.

Colgate should either allow the same number of sororities as fraternities or do away with Greek Life entirely. I belonged to a sorority in college and my experience was significantly diminished by the large number of girls in our house. My sorority was larger than my high school class. It is impossible to know intimately that many women and as such my experience was quite different from the men I knew in fraternities.

My husband and I both graduated from Colgate. We have two daughters in high school. They are excellent students, athletes and leaders. We would love to see one or both of them attend Colgate. Our older daughter toured Colgate and was disappointed with the over emphasis on Greek life. She said it was a social remnant of the ’90s (our era). She is not alone among her peer group. We would love to have fewer, not more, Greek housing options.

The number of fraternities keeps declining. Fraternities and sororities should be an option for every student.

Yes, but sorority and fraternity selection and allowances should consider the needs on campus. At this juncture, with the stated 55/45 men to women split, Colgate likely does not need any additional fraternities. Additional sororities would be advantageous, however, consider what demographic this would suit – some of the current sororities are less selective and/or more diverse than others. I would support the incorporation of National Panhellenic Conference Greek letter societies only, as to uphold the level of tradition and pride that is associated with being a member of these groups (this would exclude non-recognized sororities, such as the Divine Nine). Colgate is rooted in tradition – tradition must be flexible and adapt to the times, but changes should not diminish meaning.

Allow additional sororities and fraternities, in addition to reinstating DKE and Sigma Chi

Absolutely not. The RLCs are an infinitely better idea for fostering a community environment than adding additional Greek organizations, which are shown time and time again to have a net negative impact on campuses across the country, including at Colgate. RLCs better reflect what a university is designed to do.

Equal sorority and fraternity sizes, numbers, and recruitment standards.


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