Saturday, February 03, 2007

FSU issue - opinion on Community Colleges

One of the factoids that came out of the recent hazing arrests at the FSU SigEp Chapter is that two of the arrestees are not FSU students but attend a nearby community college. The obvious first question is "what's up with that?"

I have been associated with Sig Ep for quite a while and the chapters I know about only recruit men from the college where they are chartered.

I came across this thread at "greekchat.com" where the incident is being discussed - and in a refreshingly serious way. The question of community college pledging came up there as well. This is a good example of the conversation:
I'm at Florida State. The Community College is less than a mile away with 15,000-20,000 students many of whom are marking time until they can get into FSU (40,000). Pledging TCC students is controversial here. They are allowed to join the FSU marching band, but Greek Life absolutely forbids them joining fraternities or sororities and punishes groups when they do. IFC chapters are split on the issue; some Nationals would permit it and some would not. I'm told that many of the fraternities do pledge TCC students and simply don't report them until they enter FSU. Now, I'm certain that having TCC students as brothers will be among the charges leveled at Sigma Phi Epsilon.

We've been hit hard by the hazing issue here. Two men from FAMU (less than a mile in the other direction) were just sentenced to two year in prison for beating their KAPsi pledges with canes. At FSU, we lost SAE to hazing. I'm told ATO may also be in trouble for hazing, and now Sig Ep is really in big trouble. Both ATO and Sig Ep are preparing to break ground for new $4 million houses!

Last year Florida passed legislation making hazing a felony.

Maybe it will calm down.

We certainly hazed when I was an undergraduate, but now the threshhold of what's permitted seems to have been drastically lowered. Plus, you have to be an idiot to take guys out of the house and do what the SPEs did in a residential neighborhood.
A search of the Grand Chapter Bylaws, recent legislation, the NBD minutes that have been published, and other documents relating to membership shows no mention one way or another about community colleges.(The documents can be found in the "Members Area" of the HQ web site.) It seems to this writer that there is a gap in accountability and risk management here. A chapter is chartered to an individual school, not to a region or community. Having members who are form different schools with different standards would seem to invite miscommunication at best and chaos at worst. Further, as we have seen this week the two schools are treating the incident differently.
"We're concerned about the safety and well-being of our students," said Courtney Barry, assistant dean of students and director of Greek Life at FSU. "We are currently cooperating with the university police department."

Barry said the fraternity has been suspended by the university's Office of Student Rights and Responsibility. The university will review police reports to determine possible disciplinary for Johnson and Vincent.

Alice Maxwell, spokeswoman for Tallahassee Community College, said there's no disciplinary action (emphasis added) issued for Fernandez and Finazzo as of now.
The next Conclave needs to definitively state a policy on members belonging to the institution where the charter resides. This will probably generate some controversy. If membership is restricted then chapters that practice the "open model" will complain that they are being deprived of a source of new members, and perhaps that "all the others do it" too. If such memberships are allowed then the argument will be made that we are looking at membership and revenue before quality, since there is no assurance that a community college student will automatically transfer to a Chapters school on completion of his curriculum.

Nonetheless, there is a need to define the policy. This writer feels that a "One chapter, One school" policy is in the best interests of the Fraternity as a whole.

Let us know what YOU think about it.