SGA Proposes Greek Life Expansion Bill

Annie McDonough

The Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution that voiced the student body’s support of expanding Greek life at Colgate. During a Senate vote on Tuesday, September 27, the SGA discussed and eventually approved the resolution that would establish a dialogue with the administration about expanding both traditional fraternities and sororities, as well as multicultural, pre-professional and service Greek letter organizations. 

Senior Brian Challenger, a senator in SGA, explained that the basic idea behind the resolution was not to lay out a specialized plan for the expansion of Greek organizations, but rather to acknowledge the exclusivity of the system as it currently stands, and to demonstrate that students are in favor of expanding the system in order to make it more inclusive. 

“Having been through rush on both sides, we were again reminded this year during rush of how brutal a process it is,” Challenger said. “Say what you want about Greek systems – at Colgate there are a lot more people who want to rush than there are available spaces. We wanted to do something about this, and since we were all in Senate, this is the avenue that we have to make the positive changes we want to see in the system.” 

The resolution’s principal sponsors, senior senators Challenger, Teddy O’Hara, Benjamin Cascio, Andy Baxter and sophomore senator Jenny Lundt, put the resolution in front of the Senate in hopes of approving it in time to present to the Board of Trustees, which met during Homecoming Weekend. 

“There’s a big presentation happening in front of the Board with students saying they’re in support of expanding Greek Life, so it would be great to show the support of the whole student body there as well,” Lundt said.

Going into the SGA vote, the resolution had 18 additional co-sponsors and was met with support from many members of the Senate, who spoke during moderated caucuses during the SGA meeting. However, some SGA members raised concerns about how representative the voice of the Senate was of the student body. Secretary of Campus Affairs junior Mariam Nael said that a significant portion of the sophomore and junior classes did not participate in recruitment, which she suggested says something about the number of people who actually want to be involved in Greek life. 

“I think adding a sorority or fraternity might alienate people who aren’t in Greek life even more,” Nael said. “I think we should look around the room, and there are a lot of people in Greek life in the room, and that doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the whole campus.” 

Other SGA members argued that, despite the divide that is sometimes felt between affiliated and non-affiliated students, there are many students who participate in sorority or fraternity recruitment but are left out because of the limited number of Greek organizations. 

Junior senator Faith Hamlin expressed her opinion about Greek life and how Greek life should not be an activity that divides and isolates students at Colgate.

“Even if you don’t believe in Greek life, you should be supportive of those who do want to be in Greek life,” Hamlin said. 

Challenger also brought up the inequality between opportunities for male and female students in Greek life, noting that there are five fraternities but only three sororities. 

“Right off the bat, that seems ridiculous,” Challenger said. “If we are going to have a Greek life system, it should be the best version of Greek life that it can be, and that the most possible students can participate in.” 

Lundt added that the resolution’s co-sponsors are not currently concerned as much about the details of what future Greek life might look like, but are more concerned that the system is too limited as it currently exists. 

“As someone who wanted to be in [a sorority] and is not, I clearly think it’s exclusive,” Lundt said. “People have transferred because of it, literally left the school, and that’s not okay.”

 While the resolution stemmed from dissatisfaction with the recruitment process of the eight traditional fraternities and sororities at Colgate, its principal sponsors specified that they are also advocating for the expansion of multicultural, pre-professional and service Greek letter organizations. The sponsors noted the importance of other groups like the Africana, Latin America, Asian American and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center or members of Brothers, Colgate’s non-Greek fraternal organization, having a voice in the resolution and expanding areas of Greek and non-Greek organizations that they feel are too exclusive. 

The resolution passed with a majority, which signifies potential movement in an area of social life at Colgate that has long been stagnant, with the Board of Trustee’s current policy that bans new Greek organizations. If the resolution also gains the support of the administration, the co-sponsors say, the next steps would involve engaging all students and groups at Colgate in a conversation about what they want an expansion to look like. 

“I would like it to be a long, transparent dialogue with any group or person who is interested in being involved in the conversation,” Challenger said. “We all have a stake involved in making Colgate a better and more inclusive place.