“Cooking the Books” on Fraternity/Sorority Conduct

The Board of Trustees and administration, as a significant factor in their rationale for the University demanding ownership of the alumni’s private property in their reports to the alumni and the students, have stated, “a pattern of behavioral problems”; “increasing problems with the fraternity and sorority system in recent years”; “violation of alcohol policies, sexual misconduct, hazing and fighting”; and “a disproportionate amount of administration time dealing with problems associated with the Greek Letter System” so the need for university ownership for “more unambiguous control” over the students’ actions when they are not on in class.

After the students rallied on April 12th, the University, through the administration, put out an article to the Associated Press which stated in part, “the purchases were recommended by a task force formed after a drunk-driving accident left four people dead and the driver in prison for vehicular manslaughter. There have been sexual assaults, hazing, violent fights and a pattern of problems over the years. Many people thought change was necessary. The task force looked at several options, including eliminating the Greek System. Instead, it recommended a way for the university to assert greater control, and still give students authority over their operations.”

Now, what should the alumni and the students have been told? How about all community incidents so that the privately owned Greek Letter System’s student membership conduct is put into proper context.

For the aggregate three year period 2001-2003 (2004 has not been published yet) Colgate’s report as required by the Jeanne Clay Disclosure of Campus Crime Statistics Act provides the following statistics (see insert):

It is significant to know that fraternities and sororities are afforded “assistance by Campus Safety” as stated in Colgate’s Relationship Statement.

In addition, in a cordial telephone conversation with Richard Tilbe, the Chief of Police for the Village of Hamilton; a 35 year veteran of the Department, made the following general observations: “He and his other officers have always been treated with respect by the fraternity/sorority residents and the officers have never been denied entry to any of the fraternities and sororities. It is common knowledge in the town that there are significantly more problems up on the ‘Hill’ but even I am surprised at “the volume of Liquor Law and Drug Violations on the Hill.”

At the end of our conversation, Chief Tilbe made the following general statement: “On average, we get maybe one call a week during the school year and most of those calls relate to noise levels on weekends from a group of young people having the music too loud or trying to have the party go on a little longer. But as I said, if we ask for their cooperation, we always get it.”

Looking at the total facts – approximately 75% of the students live on campus versus 25% who live off campus so that the ratio should be approximately 3 to 1. Based on the facts, the Board of Trustees and Administration should be asking the owners of the Greek Letter Houses to own and oversee student management of the dormitories so as to affect “more control” of students’ conduct.

The entire Colgate community must question whether the information provided to the alumni when put in context of all the facts represents a distortion of the truth; “pattern of misconduct and a need for more control” at a time when the alumni are being asked for their votes for the sale of the Greek Letter Houses to Colgate University.

It is this writer’s opinion that at the very least; the University should write to all alumni and students setting the record straight and apologize for any false impression caused by partial factual disclosure; the University should cease distributing unsavory articles to the media like that of April 12th; and, the alumni be re-polled regarding the sale of their respective Greek Letter Houses to Colgate so that their votes are not tainted by misrepresentation of the facts by the very party seeking ownership.