Time to End the Colgate-F.A.C.T. Falsehoods: A Fresh Look at Hot Issues

Since the F.A.C.T crew insists that its cause is relevant to every Colgate student, I think it is important to weigh in on the University-Greek situation. To be honest, it has often been disheartening to be a student in Hamilton during the last few weeks. It seems that tensions long-growing on this campus have finally erupted into a massive war of words and actions – and unfortunately not all of them are grounded in reality.

Yes, the protection of property rights is a legitimate issue for college students across the nation, Colgate included. True, the University has chosen to take a hard-line approach in its New Vision for Residential Education. The real problem is, however, that F.A.C.T. recklessly couples the real issue at hand, property rights of the Greek Organizations, with the First Amendment rights of the entire student body. In reality, the connection between these two principles is weak – but the F.A.C.T. crowd somehow considers them one and the same. In theory, University ownership of Greek property could lead to complete dissolution of the Greek system; it could lead to the complete academic and social oppression of all Colgate students; it could lead to the end of independent thought in the world. It could also lead to an altered, but intact and healthy, Greek Community – one that is not the same as it was in 1980 because it is, in fact, 2005. The bottom line is that the University denies any ulterior motive for owning the Greek property and has acted completely in line with this stance, despite the hypotheticals tossed around by Colgate-F.A.C.T.

What is most-frustrating is that Colgate-F.A.C.T.’s campaign consists mainly of emotional appeals and half-truths aimed at damaging the University as a whole. Some of the tactics employed to garner support have been feeble: going door to door to solicit signatures is fine, but I am willing to bet that most students would sign anything shoved in their face – if for nothing more than to avoid conflict. Also, holding a rally on April Visit Days last week was a tasteless choice. The timing was a great way to get attention, but the negative mood generated for prospective and current students alike on such an important day was detrimental to both the University and the Greek system. Perhaps ironically, the F.A.C.T. website contains two quotations from students in the Class of 2009 – words from the mouth of 17-year old high school students who have zero experience at Colgate, or any other college, are relevant ringing endorsements for the cause.

Although it is not officially linked to Colgate-F.A.C.T., there is a specific view that I feel is an underlying principle in the minds of many opposed to the University. It is the “Animal House Attitude,” as described by Jason Rand in the March 25 Maroon-News (“Animal House Days are Over for Fraternities”). Essentially, Mr. Rand is disappointed in Colgate because he feels, based on stories and pictures from his alumna sister, that Colgate is, like, way less fun than it was years ago. On one hand, Mr. Rand’s argument is foolish to make in print: exactly whose sympathy does he possibly hope to gain? On the other hand, it openly contradicts the message of the F.A.C.T. crowd by describing Greek life as a big party.

However, it seems that the Animal House Attitude is prevalent among those opposed to the University’s plans. They are scared to death that the University will somehow revoke their right to party, drink and engage in super-secret fraternity activities. This is where the uncontrolled emotion is generated, and it is why students have a guttural hatred for anything that is perceived as a threat to their lifestyle, including President Chopp and Dean Weinberg.

Evidence of this phenomenon is found in the painfully misguided viewpoints expressed by Gregory LaBanca in his April 15t article, “Visions of a City on a Hill.” Mr. LaBanca should consider a Creative Writing major, because between the unfounded claims and flowery prose he writes some very solid fiction. When you boil off the scathing hatred for all things Colgate, though, there is nothing legitimate to his argument. Fight a guerilla war? Students are intellectual equals to the University Administration? Is this a joke? While it is fun and romantically rebellious to write satire about hot-button issues, too many people consider this to be serious intellectual fodder.

I know I am not alone in feeling fed-up with all the hatred directed at the University; if the commentary section of the Maroon-News in the last month is any indication, many other students feel similarly. I am also confident that I am not the only one who is a proud and happy student at Colgate University. Believe it or not, it is distinctly possible that Greek life at Colgate is not on the way out, and that it will continue to be a valuable part of the Colgate experience in the future. Hopefully, the summer will cool off a lot of the hot heads and we can return afresh in September.