During our freshman and sophomore years at Penn, two incidents of cultural insensitivity within the Greek system created community tension and divided Penn’s campus. First was the “gangsta”-themed mixer and then the holiday photo fiasco. While both of these incidents were deeply concerning on a cultural awareness level, one of the greatest problems that became apparent afterwards was the lack of a system of recourse for both Greek and non-Greek Penn students to report incidents of potential cultural insensitivity. At the time of the holiday photo incident, we were both moving into positions of greater community responsibility — one of us being elected as the Interfraternity Council’s Judicial Inquiry Board manager and the other serving as co-chair of UMOJA and as a member of the Undergraduate Assembly. We both saw a significant issue on Penn’s campus that necessitated not just discussion, but deliberate and purposeful action. We took to this task with great care and much thought, beginning with what we wished to accomplish in creating an infrastructure to instill and preserve Penn’s tradition of culturally aware and informed freedom of expression.
We worked with three key objectives in mind. First, create a well-designed system with which Penn students may bring to light questions of potential cultural insensitivity from within the Greek community. Next, guarantee an infrastructure that is committed to fairness, accountability and respect for all while also providing procedural due process for everyone. Finally, ensure transparency throughout the entire process for all parties involved and the general public.
With these goals in front of us, the constitution for the Greek Community Judicial Board was drafted, and today we are presenting it to the Penn community at large. This board is the culmination of nearly nine months of planning, drafting and refining what we believe to be a viable system to ensure accountability and respect in the Greek community and the Penn community in general. While the Interfraternity Council led the charge in drafting the constitution, the Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Student Conduct have been instrumental in making this concept a reality. This process would not have been possible without the invaluable input of the chairs of the 5B (Asian Pacific Student Coalition, United Minorities Council, Lambda Alliance, Latin@ Coalition, and UMOJA) and the Undergraduate Assembly.
The GCJB’s constitution will be available to the public in the coming days on the website of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, but here are a few key details.
- The GCJB is a self-governing body within the Penn Greek community. It possesses the ability to levy sanctions against members or chapters of the Greek community with the approval of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Student Conduct. Our administrators stand wholeheartedly behind us in a vision for a respectful and accountable Penn campus.
- The board is composed of one chairperson and six other members. Each of the three Greek councils will have two people on the board, excluding the chairperson. Each of the councils will select their two members internally, and the members of the GCJB must be selected from the executive councils of each of the Greek councils.
- Any student, Greek or otherwise, may bring an issue to the board which he or she believes necessary for adjudication by the GCJB. The board follows a constitutional process in considering the issues brought forth.
- Every step of the process has checks and balances along the way to ensure transparency for everyone involved in the process.
- While the board’s constitution lays out many specific scenarios of incidents within the GCJB’s jurisdiction, this board will inevitably face issues that our community has yet to anticipate. That’s why we must trust that the people who serve on this board will do so with dignity and respect for the people whom they each represent.
The students and faculty of this institution will not accept the marginalization of any community no matter their religion, culture, sexuality, race or gender identity. The Greek Community Judicial Board will help the Penn community maintain these values that it holds most dear. This board is the first of its kind and will hopefully serve as a national model for how universities approach cultural awareness and respect on campus. We truly hope we never have to see it put to use.
Ray Clark and Griffin Rubin are both College juniors from Washington, D.C. and San Antonio, TX, respectively. The Greek Community Judicial Board’s official email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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