Greek life external review released

Ansley Peard, News Writer

The Tuesday, March 29 issue of Whitman Today announced the arrival of the Greek Life External Review Report. The external review is facilitated by the Student Life Committee for the purpose of improving and enhancing the Greek life experience at Whitman College. 

Originally called for in 2018 by faculty governance and WIDE (Whitman Inclusion, Diversity and Equity), the review process was waylaid by the influx of COVID-19.

The external review team, which was composed of three Greek affairs and student life professionals from several universities located in the Pacific Northwest, visited Whitman College on Feb. 11-12, 2022 to assess the Whitman’s Greek life community through a series of meetings, tours and office hours.  

Some of the review team’s main recommendations include staffing, safety, education and training, and deferred recruitment.

Most notably, the review team reported “a disconnect between their perception and reality, whether it be statistics about the community or what happens at fraternity parties with alcohol.”

Some fraternity and sorority members the team met with  “felt isolated in their leadership roles due to a lack of staffing presence devoted to Greek Life. There was a lot that they wanted to accomplish, but they did not believe they had the capacity, funding, or support to do so,” the report says.

The report states that many students “viewed the primary role of fraternities and sororities as building social connections,” and the review team found that these social connections primarily took place at parties with alcohol. 

The team also met with independent students, some of whom were “adamant that Greek Life should be abolished at Whitman because of rampant alcohol abuse, sexual violence, and hazing.”

Recommendations provided by the review team expressed an outstanding need for strengthened risk management procedures due to the specification that, “Concerns of sexual violence and hazing at Whitman are intertwined with a culture of high-risk alcohol consumption.” In addition, the review team recommends that the college establishes more late night and weekend events on campus that do not promote or permit the consumption of alcohol.

In regards to concerns over diversity and inclusion, though the students who the review team met with “generally expressed the desire to be welcoming,” the team reported that Greek life on campus exhibited a lack of inclusion and diversity programming. It was found that most of the diversity, equity, and inclusion education and training work is being carried out by the few members of color.

The review team also recommended that the college implement a deferred recruitment model in which first year students are made eligible to join a fraternity or sorority only after the completion of nine Whitman College credit hours. Citing that the delay in the conventional recruitment process would allow fraternities and sororities to establish their values and priorities to first-year students throughout the first semester, the presence of Greek life members in clubs and organization fairs, housing fairs and other programming showcases the positive elements of Greek organizations on campus. Additionally, the proposed model would provide fraternities and sororities the opportunity to implement sexual violence training and alcohol consumption education before first-years are formally initiated into Greek life chapters.

In response to the external review report, the Student Life Committee is expected to produce their own short report with recommendations for Greek Life at Whitman by the end of April. 

Members of the Whitman Community can access the full Greek External Review here by logging in with their email address.