The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

From students and faculty to alumni and Trustees, President Sheldon Hackney has heard the gamut of opinions on diversifying Locust Walk. But Hackney said that come May, there is one group he will listen to above all others. Last April, he established a committee of student leaders, faculty and administrators to draft a unified opinion for the campus. Hackney said he is counting on the group to come up with the best way to house a greater mix of students on Locust Walk. But after Hackney's refusal to move fraternities, people on and off the committee have speculated that the group will in fact have little influence on Hackney. They say richer and more powerful forces will shape his decision. And one Trustee said the board is likely to have the final say. "They've indicated that [diversifying the Walk] may be a Trustee decision," said Trustee Richard Censits, who is also president of the General Alumni Society. "The Trustees feel strongly that it is part of the overall planning of the University and that it is part of their role." Censits added that he thinks the Trustees will be open minded about ways to increase the residential mix along Locust Walk. But Hackney said that the decision rests solely in his hands, and that diversity on the Walk "is not a Trustee issue." He said that while he will consult with the board about financial and development aspects, the Trustees' role is not to determine what is best for campus life. He added he has "received much more pressure from on-campus groups" than from Trustees or alumni. Pointing to Hackney's stance on Walk fraternities, many of Hackney's critics say high-powered Trustees and wealthy alumni control the president. "It seems to me that . . . somebody is pressuring him," said Anthropology Professor Peggy Sanday, author of Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood and Privelege on Campus. "I'm sure it's the Trustees and somebody's getting to him . . . Anyway, this campus cannot be ruled solely by the Trustees. We're not a committee if we're ruled by a group of Trustees." But Myles Tannenbaum, who chairs the Trustees' facilities and campus planning committee, said the decisions Hackney has made thus far have not been influenced by Trustees. Tannenbaum, who is a Tau Epsilon Phi alumnus, said the administration makes the day-to-day decisions. But Tannenbaum said he could not predict what effect the Trustees -- many of whom are fraternity members -- will have on the president's final Walk decision. Both opponents and supporters of the Greek system have said fraternities are protected by Hackney for financial reasons. They say the money the University receives from current and former tenants of the Walk houses will persuade Hackney to keep Greeks in the center of campus. According to Censits, only alumni of Walk fraternities will enter the Locust Walk fray, because only they feel they have something to lose. "Others will look on this as hopefully the University trying to resolve and move forward on a major issue," said Censits, a Beta Theta Pi alumnus. Tannenbaum, who did his undergraduate and graduate work here in the 1950s, said alumni influence on the process is not limited to financial considerations. He said the administration values the advice of all alumni. "I think administration of the University for years to come has to consider alums in everything it does, but not because they're financially supporting the University," Tannenbaum said. "Emotional support is equally important." Members of the Council of Recent Graduates have expressed fear that their voices will not be heard on the Walk issue. Members complain that alumni are not properly represented on Hackney's Walk committee, and they said they are trying to find a way to make him hear what they think is best for the campus' heart. Hackney said he has heard from alumni on both sides of the fraternity issue, but that he is relying on the Walk committee to advise him.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.