The College of William and Mary’s Greek community is under review.
A three-member team from the Coalition Assessment Project arrived at the College Oct. 14 for a two-day visit for the third phase of an assessment of the state of the Greek community. The assessment is a part of the larger movement to evaluate the health of fraternities and sororities nationwide.
“While [the CAP team members] were here, they met with a myriad of campus resource officers and offices, ranging from the Office of the President to Campus Police to Residence Life,” Inter-Sorority Council President Tildi Sharp ’10 said in an e-mail to The Flat Hat.
The team also toured housing facilities and met with representatives from Facilities Management, the Campus Health Center and the Office Student Diversity, in addition to holding forums with Greek and non-Greek students.
Sharp said some of the key issues discussed in the forums were Greek special interest housing, risk management and how the rest of the campus views the Greek community.
“The housing issue is one place where the sorority and fraternity communities have different priorities; generally, the sororities are satisfied with their housing while it is well known that the fraternities are, generally, unsatisfied,” Sharp said in an e-mail. “Students and the administration discussed potential solutions with the CAP team. As far as alcohol policies are concerned, many individuals have issues with the existing policies.”
The CAP team closed with an exit interview with the Blue Ribbon Committee, which is composed of members of the College community. The BRC essentially functions as a liaison between the Coalition Assessment Project and the campus Greek community.
“Some of the wrap-up questions made me feel very aware that they honed in … [such as] ‘What makes [the Greek life experience] relevant for a William and Mary student?’” Associate Director of Student Activities Anne Arseneau ’89 said. “I think what we will learn from this is, here are some things we will do very well, and here are some challenges ahead of us, and here are some things we need to start thinking about.”
Arseneau is one of the members of the BRC. Others include Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 and faculty representatives.
“We wanted two chapter advisers, one from a fraternity and one from a sorority [in the BRC]. We had younger members we perceived to be emerging leaders. We wanted student representation,” Arseneau said. “We wanted a representative from ResLife. We identified the places where we needed representatives present, and we identified people we thought would be a good fit.”
According to Sharp, CAP is a cohesive effort by the Association of Fraternity Advisors, the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, the National Panhellenic Conference, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the North-American Interfraternity Conference to evaluate the status of every Greek community in the country within 10 years. The College is participating within the first three years of CAP.
“Our decision to host it was based on the national initiative,” Arseneau said. “The expectation is that we will participate in this at some point. It seemed like the right time. It is an internal opportunity for fraternities and sororities to look at themselves. Overall the health of the national fraternity and sorority experience is [such] that, if we don’t take care of the health of our fraternities and sororities, we are not going to last very long.”
The assessment project is a four-phase process. A university campus first signs a letter of agreement and appoints a BRC. The second phase involves the compilation of information and data about the five focuses of the program: the development of positive interpersonal relationships, the advancement of leadership development, the strengthening of social IQ, the advancement of academic interest and the effective campus interface with and support of the Greek community.
The data needs to be received by CAP before its campus visit, which is the third phase. The fourth phase is to follow up on the final report from CAP. Arseneau expects the College to receive the final report by December, approximately six weeks after the visit.
“The Blue Ribbon Committee is the group that will definitely convene to review the recommendations,” Arseneau said. “I think the ISC and the [Council for Fraternity Affairs] will also have huge responsibilities for reviewing the report and implementing the report. That is all sort of hypothetical until we have the recommendations. We can see what resonates for us and what is important for us to look at.”
CFA President David Cooper ’10 could not be reached for comment.
According to Arseneau, CAP evolved from a meeting five or six years ago from the group Franklin Square.
“It was the original conversation between university presidents worried about the health of the fraternity and sororities residents, which evolved into the Coalition Assessment Program,” Arseneau said.
Arseneau stressed that the College was not involved in the original group.
“Hopefully, the CAP team can provide insight as to how policies might be modified so that students feel they are less oppressive yet the policies still adhere to the law and to national organizations’ policies,” Sharp said in an e-mail. “ The Greek community is constantly striving to put forth an inclusive, productive, and positive image, but it is clear that that is not always the perception of the Greek community.”