Fraternities beset with challenges from all sides

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The fraternity master plan, the alleged and long-awaited redesign of the quad, is expanding past the physical reconstruction of the fraternity quad aThe fraternity master plan, the alleged and long-awaited redesign of the quad, is expanding past the physical reconstruction of the fraternity quad and into the heart and soul of the CMU Greek system. The following addresses fraternities specifically, because there is insufficient space to address the absurd policies and restrictions placed on sororities through the Formal Membership Recruitment (FMR) process. Presented here is a layout of policies and actions that one can equate as a whole to the attempted dismantling of the Greek system at Carnegie Mellon. Bear with me here, as I attempt to sum up years of over-zealous policies in a few pages. Why should one care? Well, imagine life at Carnegie Mellon without Carnival, Booth, Buggy, half of the philanthropy on campus, Greek Sing and the like. Now, attempt to explain the hurtful and insulting policies that continue to be established.
First, money. The debate over first-year housing cancellations continues to rage. During the last lease negotiations, fraternities unwisely (though, in reality, there was no other option) signed a new three-year lease wherein the number of first-year cancellations diminishes each consecutive year. At the same time, the University is entering the beginning phases for the new multi-million-dollar master plan, funded in part by raising rents on fraternities. Connect the dots here and one can see a situation where fraternity members are paying increased rates for houses they will never live in. In addition, it is becoming more difficult each year for the fraternities to fill their houses due to the inability to get first-year pledges to move in.
Second, Student Life: Specifically of interest to first-years and freedom lovers, the Orientation stranglehold placed on fraternities this year. Within the last decade, CMU fraternities and Orientation had a great working relationship. There was a fine rapport between the two sides, each understanding their place and purpose. Official Orientation events would end at 8 or 9 pm and fraternities would provide the night life. This symbiotic relationship worked to give students options on how to spend their time at night. Students could choose to attend an optional social event, take a bus to the Waterfront or to Oakland, or check out the fraternities.
Perhaps personal choice and treating incoming first-years as adults were not high on the priority list of Orientation planners this year. By exploiting IFC rules concerning fraternities not holding ?events? during Orientation events, the planning crew put together a series of extremely weak gatherings under the official Orientation label. By doing this, they were well aware that the dunk tanks, mechanical bulls, and rock walls would have to be put away for another year. They also knew that this would reduce exposure to the Greek community for the incoming first-year class.
Let me make something clear. Many of the OCs are Greek. Many of them I consider friends. This is about the directives of the administration, not the CMU students involved. Orientation maintains that Orientation events after Playfair have always been official, and that there was no change in policy this year. They maintain that only the rules of IFC, the self-governing fraternity council, have changed. While, in the strictest sense possible, this would be true, the true story here is a violation of the gentlemen?s agreement between Orientation and the Greeks.
In the aftermath of the Kap Sig debacle, Student Life has thrown another punch. The stockpiling of citations, both warranted and not, continues. The piles of insignificant and common offenses are allowed to grow, through inaction, to a level where a chapter?s national is then notified. Once notified, the national chapter has to act. Sometimes they even show up at a closed event, after being tipped off, and shut it down or dismember entire houses. Another unnamed fraternity was caught with a large number of cases of beer, with their intended purpose remaining unclear. These cases were then held in storage ? storage that I have no doubt the chapter will be charged for.
If the act was illegal to begin with, then someone should explain why the contraband was returned. This is part of a new policy that harasses chapters over practices that have knowingly been going on for years. Remember, chapters, you pay for the porch in your lease, but your 21-year-old members are not allowed to drink while standing on it. Information given from an anonymous source from Student Life states that an upper-level administrator at Carnegie Mellon foresees only between three and five fraternities remaining after their current blitzkrieg is over.
Enter the media and campus public relations. The handling of the Kap Sig situation and a plethora of other ?controversies? quad-wide by the outlets available to students on this campus has been atrocious. This bias even rears its head in items such as Crime & Incident, a section of the newspaper which, unlike editorials, is supposed to be straight reporting. Repeatedly, houses and independent members are inaccurately blamed and roped into situations in which they were uninvolved.
Why would Carnegie Mellon repeatedly come after fraternities, screaming at them for misbehaving while winking at them with knowledge of the role that they serve on this campus? The repeated attacks on Greek Life, and student life in general, will only serve to hurt the University?s retention rate in the long run. Someone can only shoot himself in the foot for so long before he lacks a leg to stand on. There is no respect for tradition, and an even greater disrespect for Greek alumni. While hiding behind the guise of good intentions, the new policies put forward continue to strip the ?life? out of student life.