The Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the Undergraduate Senate will vote this week on a resolution urging the University to permanently unhouse Greek organizations. The University and Greek organizations gave little insight into how they might respond.
The vote comes amid increasing calls from student organizations to abolish Greek life at Stanford and heightened scrutiny of Greek organizations on campus. Last spring, the University committed to maintaining the presence of the organizations on campus, but fixed Greek life access to Row and Cowell Cluster housing at 10 out of the 30 Greek organizations on campus.
A University spokesperson declined to comment on whether it would seriously consider the recommendations if passed, writing that “Student Affairs is reviewing the resolution” in a statement to The Daily. Both the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Inter-sorority Council (ISC) did not respond to a request for comment but members of the Undergraduate Senate and GSC expect they will attend both votes.
Despite the University’s commitment in the spring to fix Greek organization housing, GSC co-chair and resolution co-sponsor Kari Barclay, a fifth-year theater and performance studies Ph.D. student, said that the COVID-19 pandemic may have opened the door for the University to re-evaluate its policy.
“COVID-19 has vastly reshaped the realm of possibility,” Barclay said. “This year there is no Greek housing anyway because undergraduate housing is very different and Row houses are being used for isolation facilities for students with [COVID-19]. It changed what might have been possible from last spring.”
The houses remain assigned to Greek organizations indefinitely unless a house loses its status through a violation of the Standards of Excellence program, a set of criteria that is used to evaluate Greek chapters based on aspects such as diversity programming and alcohol and drug education efforts. Most recently, the Kappa Alpha fraternity lost housing privileges for at least two years in 2019 after the University found that members were housing students who were not paying room and board to the University.
The resolution would encourage Stanford to redistribute the housing currently granted to Greek organizations to “marginalized communities who have historically been excluded from the Row and Greek organizations.”
“Greek life organizations have historically been predominantly wealthy, have been disproportionately white compared to the rest of the Stanford population,” Barclay said. “Row housing is very desirable housing in many ways and in keeping with our commitment to diverse communities, we wanted to think through alternatives and make sure that housing is going to good use.”
Eighty-four percent of the 188 participants in a June study conducted by COMM 138: “Applying Deliberative Polling” agreed that “Greek organizations are biased towards privileging [sic] students in their selection process for new members.” However, most participants opposed abolishing Greek life altogether, and average support for the proposal that “Greek organizations should not be given their own house” on a 10-point scale was 5.125 after discussion.
Though the resolution is authored by Abolish Stanford Greek, it does not recommend the elimination of Greek life from the University. Currently, there are 20 unhoused Greek chapters at the University that meet regularly during the school year and that can reserve houses for events. At last week’s GSC meeting, councilors raised concerns about the possibility of Greek chapters moving into and disturbing local communities if the University were to revoke their Row housing.
If the resolution passes both the GSC and the Senate, both bodies will have the opportunity to request that the Faculty Senate also vote on the resolution. Faculty Senate assistant academic secretary Adrienne Emory wrote in a statement to The Daily that “the Senate has no jurisdiction over this issue.”
Asked if they expected ASSU’s legislative bodies to pass the resolution or if they thought it would pressure the University take their concerns more seriously, Abolish Stanford Greek did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The GSC invited representatives from the IFC and ISC to share their thoughts on the resolution in tomorrow’s debate before the vote. Members of Abolish Stanford Greek will also attend to present the resolution to the Council.
Contact Tammer Bagdasarian at tbag ‘at’ stanford.edu and Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’ stanford.edu.