The University task force charged with looking into off-campus organizations released eight recommendations last week.
But it’s still unclear how the Penn administration plans on implementing these suggestions, which include having off-campus organizations register with the University. As part of an official designation as “Identified Off-Campus Groups,” off-campus groups, which typically act like underground fraternities and sororities, would be required to provide Penn with member lists and contact information, abide by the University’s alcohol and hazing policies and potentially register events.
But requiring that off-campus groups register with the school and be subject to the same regulations as recognized on-campus groups appears to contravene the very reason that many such groups choose to move off campus. And administrators have not made it clear how the University hopes to incentivize registration.
The Division of Public Safety said in a statement that “all details will be worked out as the task force moves from the recommendations to the implementation work.”
Students also have criticized the task force for not maintaining a high degree of transparency and communication during the last few months, leaving many students in the dark about the task force’s progress or goals.
“I think there was a lot of cloudiness and confusion around who was on the task force [and] what they were doing,” Chair of the Penn Association for Gender Equity and College junior Meghana Nallajerla said. “I think sending out regular updates would have been great — and we’ve made that recommendation several times before at our group meetings.”
The task force has met with a variety of campus groups since its inception in February, including The Daily Pennsylvanian. In partnership with the DP, task force members also held a town hall meeting on Feb. 23 in ARCH.
Nallajerla, as the chair of PAGE, has been in contact with the task force throughout the past semester. While she praised the genuine effort that the administrators showed in wanting to improve the culture on Penn’s campus, she said PAGE members noticed a lack of clear and open communication between the task force and the student groups advocating for similar issues.
“I do think they are trying and they do want to do their best, but I think a lot of the time, just when you have such a big university ... information can get lost,” she said.
Nallajerla also expressed concern that the scope of the recommendations may be too limited.
“It’s largely an issue of rape culture and misogyny, and if we don’t address the root causes, it doesn’t necessarily alleviate all the issues if we just talk about alcohol usage,” she said.
A student affiliated with one off-campus organization said she “didn’t know how the administration would even go about doing this.”
She added that the recommendations did not cover some of the root causes of the problems at off-campus organizations — and that they glossed over the fact that those same problems exist in on-campus groups as well.
“I really wish the administration would realize that the students they admit and the campus culture that subsequently is created is what causes these problems,” she said.
Correction: A previous version of this article misquoted Nallajerla as saying “It’s largely an issue of Greek culture and misogyny.” She said it’s an issue of “rape culture and misogyny.” The DP regrets the error.
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