The idea of a collaborative board overseeing acts of cultural insensitivity by fraternities and sororities has returned.
In the fall, Undergraduate Assembly Vice President Ray Clark and Interfraternity Council Judicial Inquiry Board Manager Griffin Rubin — both College juniors — the creation of an external body composed of members of the Panhellenic Council, the IFC and the Multicultural Greek Council.
The board, as outlined in a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column, would serve as an outlet for Penn students to voice their complaints regarding cultural insensitivity within Greek life. If the board found a Greek organization guilty of cultural insensitivity, Clark and Rubin said, it would impose sanctions, usually in the form of education.
This idea ended up being far from what administrators deemed appropriate or desirable at the time, particularly because of the proposal to levy sanctions against speech.
“The administration has conveyed that Penn does not and will not sanction speech,” Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Eddie Banks-Crosson said in an interview for an October article regarding the previously proposed board.
When contacted on Monday, Banks-Crosson was not immediately available for comment.
The newly proposed organization would play a very different role on campus as a mediator.
“It will still meet to address incidents of religious, cultural, racial, gender, sexuality, citizenship discrimination within the Greek community. However, this time around we’re bringing both parties together to talk to each other face to face about how these incidents have affected them and how to actually move forward in the process,” said Clark, who formerly was co-chair of UMOJA, an umbrella organization for African and Africana student groups, in an interview on Monday.
The change in purpose was reflected in the council changing its name from the Greek Judicial Board to the Greek Student Community Consortium.
“We wanted to move away from the punitive nature of the original concept and focus on creating something that would encourage unity across campus,” Clark said.
When asked about the new iteration of the proposal, the Division of the Vice Provost for University Life said in a statement, “The Consortium is a student-conceived mediation group still in the early stages of formation. As in all mediations, all parties would have to opt in and work together to address any issues of concern. The Consortium will need the support of Greek council leadership and members to achieve its goals.”
Members of IFC, MGC and the Panhellenic Council have offered assistance in creating the consortium, but no organization has officially signed on to sit on the board prior to the training, Clark and Rubin said.
Prior to becoming official, the consortium will have to be voted on by the UA.
While University administrators have been providing “technical assistance” in creating the consortium, it is set up to be student-run and therefore not overseen by Penn.
“The Consortium will have no official role in Greek life and no authority to impose sanctions,” the statement from VPUL said.
Clark believes the opportunity for mediation can produce change on campus.
“The consortium will be effective in the long run because we’re breaking down that wall of seclusion and producing a forum in which we all can grow from dialogue together, while respecting each other’s rights to free speech. At the end of the day, Penn is full of diverse perspectives, and the only way we can learn from each other is if we actually make the effort to engage. The Greek Student Community Consortium is a big step in moving towards that goal.”
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