April 15, 2015
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU is launching a task force to review campus fraternity and sorority life and determine whether changes are needed to support diversity and to encourage interaction among the student organizations.
The 29-member task force is composed of students, faculty, staff, advisors to campus fraternities and sororities, a fraternity alumnus, and three members of the SMU Board of Trustees, two of whom will act as consultants.
Chairing the task force are Joanne Vogel, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of Student Life, and Creston C. Lynch, director of Multicultural Student Affairs and National Pan-Hellenic Conference advisor. Lori White, SMU vice president for Student Affairs, established the task force with support from University President R. Gerald Turner.
“Recent nationally publicized incidents regarding racial insensitivity on the part of some Greek letter organizations present an opportunity for SMU to examine fraternity and sorority life on our own campus,” Vogel said. “These incidents, and the conversations they have sparked, present an opportunity for us to commit ourselves to being a model where diversity in Greek life is encouraged, supported and respected.”
“Almost half of SMU’s undergraduate student body participates in fraternity and sorority life affiliated with one of four Greek councils – the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) or the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC),” Lynch said. “It is important that student participation in these groups be open to reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of our campus.”
The task force is charged with reviewing:
- Are there barriers to enhancing the diversity of membership within each fraternity and sorority? What are the outreach and recruitment practices by current members, alumni, and the national organizations that demonstrate inclusivity of membership in the organizations affiliated with each of the four councils to those who may be interested in joining? How can these practices be strengthened to enhance membership diversity?
- What are the historical and current traditions of the Greek letter organizations at SMU and/or practices that may discourage diverse participation in various Greek letter organizations? What are some new traditions and practices that might positively contribute to diverse participation in various Greek letter organizations?
- What are some particular strategies for enhancing connection, communication and community across all four councils?
- What additional support can the university provide so that the organizations affiliated with each council are successful?
- What are some resources and/or examples of “best practices” from the respective national Greek letter organizations and from other colleges and universities that SMU might adopt to enhance diverse participation in Greek letter organizations at SMU, and to ensure that all members demonstrate personal responsibility and sincere regard and respect for others?
- In what ways does the presence of these organizations on campus impact (positively or negatively) the social fabric of the SMU student experience with respect to diversity? What can be done to ensure the positive and decrease any negative influences of Greek letter organizations on campus with respect to diversity? How might the programming within each residential commons encourage diversity within the four councils, interactions among the councils, and between other students living in the commons regardless of Greek affiliation?
- What other issues from discussions about Greek life diversity on the SMU campus could impact the overall SMU student experience?
The Greek Life Diversity Task Force will issue a final report to the vice president for Student Affairs in December 2015. But the Task Force, in consultation with the vice president for Student Affairs, may implement any recommendations in response to the charge prior to the issuance of the final report. The final report will be reviewed by SMU President R. Gerald Turner and shared with the SMU Board of Trustees.
In addition to Vogel and Lynch, Task Force members include:
- Steven Johnson, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs/MGC advisor
- Kevin Saberre, coordinator of Student Activities/IFC advisor
- Jennifer Jones, executive director of Student Life/national president of the NPHC
- Stephen Rankin, chaplain
- Ashley Fitzpatrick, coordinator of Student Activities/NPC advisor
- Anthony Tillman, assistant provost/chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
- Jomita Fleming, assistant director for Residential Life
- Pamela McNulty, learning specialist at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center
- Maria Dixon, associate professor of communications, Meadows School of the Arts
- Martin Camp, assistant dean for student affairs, Dedman School of Law/faculty- in-residence
- Ann Batenburg, clinical assistant professor, Simmons School of Education and Human Development/faculty-in-residence
- Frederick B. Hegi Jr., trustee (consultant)
- Jeanne Tower Cox, trustee (consultant)
- Pastor Richie L. Butler, trustee.
Student members include:
- Jasmine Richardson, a junior NPHC representative
- Jessica Mitchell, a sophomore NPHC representative
- Biko McMillan, a sophomore MGC representative
- Marina Guo, a junior MGC representative
- Libby Arterburn, a junior NPC representative
- Ellie Brason, a sophomore NPC representative
- Trent Barnes, a senior IFC representative
- Sam Baker, a senior IFC representative
Fraternity and sorority advisors include:
- Karen King, Alpha Kappa Alpha (NPHC)
- Carlos Cruz, Sigma Lambda Beta (MGC)
- Ruth Kupchynsky, Kappa Kappa Gamma (NPC)
- Steve Harrington, Sigma Chi (IFC)
- Haynes Strader, an alumnus of Sigma Alpha Epsilon