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Panel of trustees, faculty, students, alumni, and staff will examine how fraternities and sororities can best contribute to the College’s future

A working group of trustees, faculty, students, alumni, and staff has been formed to examine how fraternities and sororities can best contribute to Lafayette’s future in the context of the College’s strategic plan.

The objective of the Working Group on Greek Life and the Campus Community is to understand more clearly the benefits of fraternity and sorority membership and develop insight on avenues for preserving and enhancing these benefits while mitigating problems the chapters face.

Co-chaired by Barbara Levy ’77, chair of the Trustees’ Committee on Student Life, and Ashley Juavinett ’11, former president of Student Government, the panel will seek to determine ways in which the Greek system may better align its primary purposes and daily operations with academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, student learning outside of the classroom, responsible alcohol use, personal integrity, and the development of organizations that both support their members and challenge them to grow and develop. It also will focus on the relationship between these organizations and nonaffiliated students.

Last year, an Ad Hoc Committee on Residence Life undertook a review of Lafayette’s residence life program to provide direction as the College implements the strategic plan and continues shaping the residential experience for students. The committee was chaired by Robert Sell ’84, vice chair of the trustees’ student life committee. Its final report sets forth 25 recommendations for consideration by College officials. In it, the committee expresses the “studied opinion that resolution to the issue of how fraternities and sororities can most effectively contribute to the College’s mission requires further study.”

“Many students and alumni who belong to Greek organizations articulate forcefully the merits of membership, merits that extend far beyond their four years on campus,” President Daniel H. Weiss said. “However, as the ad hoc committee reported, the perception also exists that Greek chapters may have a deleterious effect on important community values.

“In conversations with members of the Lafayette community and others, the working group will seek to improve our understanding of the benefits of Greek membership and the contributions of the Greek system at Lafayette and increase our knowledge of best practices with respect to fraternity and sorority policies and management,” Weiss said. “This will help guide our future efforts as we work with the undergraduates and alumni of Greek organizations to mitigate problematic issues.”

The working group on Greek life plans to share its findings, observations, and recommendations with the College community during the fall 2010 semester. It includes alumni Paul McCurdy ’82, president of the Alumni Association, and Kevin Canavan ’76; faculty members James Schaffer, professor of chemical engineering and director of institutional research, and John Shaw, associate professor of psychology; and administrators James Krivoski, vice president for student affairs, Karen Forbes, director of counseling services, and Laurel Peffer, assistant director of residence life and adviser to fraternities and sororities.

Juavinett is a neuroscience major from Blackwood, N.J. Other student members of the working group are Max Bass ’10 (Gorham, Maine), an American studies major; Kyara Gray ’11 (Lincoln University, Pa.), an economics major; Justin Kamine ’11 (Oldwick, N.J.), a double major in economics and policy studies; Elizabeth Katz ’10 (Fair Haven, N.J.), a psychology major; and DeAndre Morrow ’10 (Hilton Head, S.C.), a history major.

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