Greek students react to external review

Sara Marshall, News Reporter

In the time since the release of the Greek life external review, some students in Greek life have voiced their dissatisfaction with the thoroughness of the report, viewing it as an incomplete assessment of Whitman’s Greek system.

The review consisted of four main recommendations for improvement: staffing, safety, education and training and deferred recruitment. 

Kappa Alpha Theta member Abby Corpuz ‘22 takes issue with various facets of the external review. Corpuz cited the brevity of the reviewers’ visit and nonexistent contact the reviewers extended toward several leaders in Greek life—including Theta’s risk manager—as an insufficient effort to properly analyze the problems with Greek life on campus.

“I don’t think that there was adequate time or resources put into it to determine fully the extent of such a large student organization. I think that two days is really not enough to assess something that has been so prevalent on this campus for so long and really determine where the problems lie,” Corpuz said. 

The external review notes palpable skepticism from Whitman chapter advisors about the efficacy of the review. Chapter advisors are typically alumni who act as liaisons between Greek chapters and the college administration.

“We had the opportunity to meet with chapter advisors during our visit, and we believe there is an opportunity for the College to strengthen relationships between Whitman and chapter advisors,” the review said. “It was evident chapter advisors were not trusting of the purpose or outcome of the external review.”

Kappa Kappa Gamma member Emma Anderson ‘22 believes that more needs to be done by the administration to provide sufficient support to both the sororities and the fraternities.

I hope the college notices that all five of the ‘specific recommendations’ in that diversity, equity, and inclusion summary involve staff advising and funds from the college to educate the chapters, not further recommendations for in-chapter training,” Anderson said. “The lack of staff support or knowledge of what is being done in chapters already is clear.”

Originally called for in 2018, the external review was requested to learn more about the impact of Greek life on campus and to assess the reasons behind declining numbers of students in Greek Life. 

Corpuz feels frustrated by Whitman’s lack of support for Greek Life and agrees with the review about the need for a professional staff member similar to the past role of a Fraternity Sorority Advisor (FSA).

“I think the external reviewers got it right when they said we need an FSA because it is absolutely true,” Corpuz said. “Most of our first years and sophomores have never seen a functional FSA in their experiences with Greek life.” 

Anderson expressed feelings of dismissal with requests made to the college about equal housing between sororities and fraternities and assistance during COVID-19. She hopes that the official nature of the external review will finally mark substantive change in the way the administration supports Greek life.

“Since the review was delayed during COVID-19, many fraternity and sorority presidents [sought] help and were told ‘we cannot do anything until the external review is over’ and now that the external review is referencing things that we have been asking for, the college should now take our requests more seriously,” Anderson said.

Corpuz also took issue with the external review’s proposed deferred recruitment model, arguing that forcing recruited students to wait a semester before initiation discourages participation in Greek life.

“It feels to a lot of Greek students like they are making you wait a whole semester and winter break and a week or two at the beginning of the semester to drop, and that Whitman wants you to drop out of Greek Life,” Corpuz said. “We went into the external review really hoping that the administration and the faculty would address to us why they felt it was so important that new members wait a whole semester, when really a lot of the benefits of Greek life come when you are initiated.”

Corpuz does however believe that the external review shed some light on prevalent issues and may be used to guide future supportive efforts by the administration.

“Even though the external reviewers were only on campus for two days, if they are seeing these concerns, then maybe it’s something that the rest of the campus is seeing,” Corpuz said. “We want to make sure our functions, which are usually the most well-attended parties on Whitman’s campus, are safe and that people feel comfortable going. At the end of the day, student safety is what we care most about.”