University addresses Greek concerns in letter
By Andrea ThomasPublication
Date: 10/04/06Assistant Campus Editor
After several fraternity chapters were sanctioned last school year, University officials have responded to some students' concerns that Purdue is "out to get the Greeks."
As stated in a letter from Tom Robinson, vice president for student services, and Tony Hawkins, dean of students, some student leaders have voiced complaints about disciplinary actions by the Office of the Dean of Students.
The purpose of the letter was to assure Greek community members that the University has not been targeting them for sanctions. Last school year, Sigma Phi Epsilon at 690 Waldron St., Delta Chi at 501 Russell St. and Delta Tau Delta at 400 Northwestern Ave. were all suspended. Theta Chi on 800 David Ross Road was put on probation.
The letter, dated Sept. 21, went on to say that the University will continue to enforce its regulations and will not tolerate hazing or other forms of abuse, which some groups still consider to be traditions.
"First and foremost, it was a letter of reassurance that we value our Greek system at Purdue, but it was also an opportunity to announce that everything that happened last spring has led us to take a more strategic look at the system as a whole to see where we are and where we might go in the next few years," Hawkins wrote in an e-mail.
He wrote that the letter expressed a concern that some of the incidents occurring last spring were "totally out of hand, dangerous and uncalled for.
"However, all of the behaviors can easily be corrected with good leadership from the student members themselves," he wrote. "At Purdue, we do have good student leaders. We hope that a reminder to be vigilant, however, will have a positive impact."
Zach Brettnacher, president of the Interfraternity Council, said the Greek community and the University acknowledge the need for improvements.
"We definitely feel the letter is a positive sign of our continued partnership," said Brettnacher, a senior in the College of Technology. "By admitting our faults, it shows our strengths, but I think the good definitely outweighs the bad."
He said there are going to be obstacles along the way, but that people in fraternities and sororities are ready to take Purdue to the next level of preeminence.
"We're looking at selecting a diverse group of individuals (including alumni, students and University officials) whose task will be to evaluate the current interaction between the University and the Greek community, and to create a strategic plan for the future. We'll be relying on feedback and suggestions throughout the year," said Brettnacher.
Rick Conner, alumni treasurer for Theta Chi fraternity at Purdue, said the most important part of the next step for the Greek community is for fraternities and sororities to focus on the things that are most important, which he said are leadership development, academic achievement, philanthropy, brotherhood and sisterhood.
"I'm sure that the Greek community feels like there is more pressure on them from the University, but rightfully so ... times change, businesses change, universities change, and we have to be able to change, too," said Conner.
But he said he is confident Greek communities will change, and successfully.
"The survival of fraternities and sororities is dependent on breaking free of bad traditions and focusing on the most important things."