Interfraternity Council, Fraternity Presidents Vote to Impeach Co-President Lorenzo Silva

Mitchell Smith and Marra Clay

Update at 8:00pm on September 23: This article has been significantly changed to reflect a disagreement between fraternities regarding the recruitment rules and former IFC Co-President Lorenzo Silva’s involvement in the potential change of those rules. Additionally, the article now reflects opinions voiced by Tau Kappa Epsilon President Parker Dawson, who was not available for comment before the article was originally published Thursday evening. 

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) and fraternity presidents voted Thursday afternoon to ask for the resignation of IFC Co-President Lorenzo Silva after he was accused of partiality by the IFC members and the Fraternity Presidents.

The decision came on the heels of a text message mistakenly sent by Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) member Silva to the Greek Leaders group that implied he had not treated his position as IFC Co-President with impartiality. In the text which was meant for Tau Kappa Epsilon President Parker Dawson, Silva claimed that he had re-written the recruitment rules twice. The second to last line of the text read, “Everything I’ve done is to support TKE.”

“[The text] exposed Lorenzo’s complete partialness to TKE as president of IFC,” Beta Theta Pi President Andrew Davis said. “We’ve all agreed as fraternity presidents and IFC reps that impartiality is the foundation of IFC, and if we want it to work we have to continue with an impartial president.”

“Overall I think that IFC is making a huge mistake and misinterpreting a personal interaction between him and I. [The text] had no relation to any sort of rush strategy at all,” Dawson said.

The fraternities reached an agreement last spring to change the recruitment rules to give the fraternities with smaller budgets and less members, Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi, a better opportunity to recruit alongside the larger fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Delta Theta. It was decided that one week of recruitment activities, along with another more informal week with little planned, would give the smaller houses a better chance to utilize their funds on an equal playing field with the larger fraternities. The agreement was approved by a vote by the IFC representatives and fraternity presidents.

According to Phi Delta Theta Rush Chair Michael Brock, the second week was specifically unstructured to allow fraternities the freedom to rush as they saw fit.

“We never explicitly or implicitly said that we weren’t going to have those formal events. We never agreed on it as I remember and it was never written down,” Brock said. “We just wanted to let people do what they want. It’s not that we weren’t allowed to [organize a more formal rush event], we left our options open for everybody that entire week.”

This view was not shared by Davis, who raised the idea that a second week of organized rush events was intentionally installed by Silva, among others, to benefit Tau Kappa Epsilon.

“If you look at what is going on, and then you have this information that Lorenzo has now given us that he is partial to TKE, it raises suspicion that maybe they added that second week [of formal events] knowing that they have the funds as a wealthy fraternity and knowing that the rest of us are being blindsided and didn’t prepare for this,” Davis said.

Dawson described a different situation.

In the first week, [Dawson’s fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon] never made more food than we normally did, we never spent more money, [none of the first years] stayed for more than half an hour. We did that because we assumed we would be able to use the second week for formal desserts because those were our favorite events,” Dawson said. “Yes we would have done well [in recruitment] regardless. Of course, I don’t think the rules helped us do well [in recruitment] because I believe in the community we have, we’re good people.

Fraternity bids were accepted Wednesday and Thursday. As of publishing, 31 of the 45 first-years given bids from Tau Kappa Epsilon had accepted. The traditionally smaller fraternities experienced an increase from last year in the number of bids accepted. In total, 13 first years accepted a bid from Beta Theta Pi out of 45 given out and 12 first years accepted a bid out of the 27 bids offered by Sigma Chi.

Under IFC bylaws, two-thirds of the IFC Council and a two-thirds of fraternity presidents are required to impeach the IFC President. Thursday’s vote was originally deemed invalid due to timing and clerical issues. A second vote was held on Friday that reaffirmed the impeachment decision. Both votes were unanimous.

“I was disappointed that somebody who claims to be the face of our fraternal system… could embarrass us in such a way,” Davis said. “Going forward, we now have an unbiased, equal system that is going to continue to benefit the Whitman College campus.” Current IFC President Gordon Kochman emphasized the need for impartiality within IFC leaders and supports the decision to impeach Silva.

“There needs to be some essence of, if not total, impartiality on the role of the president,” Kochman said. “That text that he sent was pretty bad, especially given if it is changing [recruitment] to a semester long system which I think only benefits TKE… I think that shows a lack of impartiality.”

Kochman will likely be the sole IFC president for the remainder of recruitment, at which time it is possible that the fraternities will decide on an additional IFC leader.