Thursday, May 24, 2018

Looking beyond the new social policy

Lydia Kay ’13


It’s been nearly a month since President Jones sent out the controversial email on behalf of the Board of Trustees and himself, thereby eliminating all Greek life and instituting a new social policy that resembles a Harry Potter-like “housing” system. Like all Trinity students, I have participated in long conversations discussing the pros and cons and have inevitably been interested in what the administration has to say. Trinity stands out among the NESCAC schools as one of the few small liberal arts colleges that has a social scene based around fraternities and sororities. I cannot deny that I spent a good amount of my freshman and sophomore years in the basements of these frats, and honestly, I had a great time. Throughout my four years at Trinity, the unique social scene has played a major role in defining my undergraduate experience. It was engrained into me from the first Thursday night out of Orientation week freshman year that in order to have a good time, I had to go to the frats. It’s what everyone did, and I didn’t consider my night completed unless I had at least stepped foot in one of the frats. If you had asked my freshman-year self what I thought of these new changes to the social policy, I would have been enraged. How could they take away the frats? What would we do Thursday-Saturday?

Now, however, after three years of adjustment and opening my eyes to the negative aspects of a social scene dominated by exclusive fraternities and sororities, I see the bigger picture. It is hard to image a night out at Trinity without the option of going to the frats because we’ve never had to experience it. The reality of the situation, though, is that we will be okay without them. Actually, we will be better without them. It is time Trinity institutes some major changes that look out for the future of the College, and I applaud the administration for taking action. Our academic reputation, which has declined over the past few years, will rise because prospective students will look to Trinity as an academic institute, rather than calling it “Camp Trin,” a place where you can do minimal work, skip classes, and are expected to go out every night of the weekend.

I recently overheard a student saying that he couldn’t take a class that was necessary for his major because it was in the fall, and he would be pledging then. The fact that pledging takes precedence over academia is deeply concerning. It is common knowledge that pledges’ G.P.As plunge considerably during pledging season because all of their time is taken up doing mindless activities. I understand the counter argument is that these activities create a sort of camaraderie among current pledges and solidify the “community within a community” that fraternities and sororities function as. However, when schoolwork suffers and professors feel the consequences of pledging, it has gone too far.

It’s going to take a while, most likely several years, for the Trinity community to come to terms with these radical changes. It doesn’t affect me as a senior, but I do feel for the sophomore and junior classes who will have to adjust to life at Trinity sans the traditional fraternities and sororities. Students are displeased with how President Jones and the administration dealt with the aftermath of the initial email, and I see where their anger is coming from. The email was ambiguous and brief, and indirectly dismantled the sororities and the majority of the fraternities. However, as I mentioned before, I hope my peers can look to the future of Trinity and see how this social restructuring will improve the College’s long-term reputation. This is just my opinion and I acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own, which is why I encourage the Trinity community (students, faculty, alumni, parents) to continue to make their voices heard and stand up for the future generations of Trinity students.

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