The Graduate Student Council (GSC) passed a resolution encouraging Stanford to permanently unhouse Greek organizations, joining the Undergraduate Senate, which passed the resolution last week. The vote comes amid calls from students and student organizations to abolish Greek life at Stanford.
The joint passage of the resolution sends it to the Faculty Senate, which will have the opportunity to vote on the motion. Even if the Faculty Senate voices support for the resolution, the University will make an independent decision about the initiative.
Last spring, the University committed to maintaining the presence of Greek organizations on campus but capped Greek life access to Row and Cowell Cluster housing at 10 out of the 30 Greek organizations represented on campus.
The vote followed more than two hours of discussion, during which members of Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Inter-Sorority Council (ISC) organizations, current Greek life members and a former Greek life affiliate spoke against unhousing Greek organizations, while Abolish Stanford Greek and former Greek life members spoke in favor of the resolution.
The resolution contends that Greek organizations exclude marginalized groups through their recruitment processes and that Greek chapters perpetuate white supremacy and further “a culture of misogyny, classism, homophobia, heteronormativity and elitism on campus.”
Members of Greek organizations argued that the best way to address issues within Greek life is through reform rather than immediate action to unhouse the organizations.
Isaac Harris ’22, a member of a Greek organization, said that the pandemic-induced pause on Greek recruitment presents a unique opportunity for Greek organizations to make progress on reform initiatives that may have been unsuccessful in the past.
A current member of a Greek organization, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of her experience, shared personal stories of sexual assault and spoke against the resolution. She said the community of her sorority and the existence of a single-gender living environment allowed her the space to process her experiences.
“There’s an unambiguous zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault in Stanford Greek life,” she said. “And this is something that all members take incredibly seriously. The idea that sexual assault is just permeated in Greek houses and nowhere else and isn’t a wide college problem is ridiculous and kind of offensive to me personally.”
Another individual who spoke in support of unhousing also shared her experiences with sexual assault but said that Greek organizations do not have to be housed to work on addressing these issues.
Shawn Lee ’16 M.S. ’16 M.S. ’17, a member of Abolish Greek, read a statement from Terrell Edwards ’21, who stepped down from his position as IFC president on Wednesday. The statement said that without the resolution, Greek organizations’ campus culture would not change.
“In order to move this conversation forward we need to put a deposit of trust on the table first,” Lee said.
Of the 12 councilors in attendance, eight voted in favor of the resolution, three voted against and one abstained. The resolution successfully reached the two-thirds majority that it needed to pass.
GSC co-chair and resolution sponsor Kari Barclay, a fifth-year theater and performance studies Ph.D. student, said he is hopeful that the resolution will further conversation about Greek life at the administrative level but declined to share any information about the University’s stance on the topic.
Glen Husman ’23 also presented a resolution to the GSC that would encourage the University to allow up to 15 units of transfer credits from other accredited universities. These 15 credits would not count toward the 45-unit limit on transfer credits.
Husman outlined what he considers to be numerous benefits of the resolution, such as increasing flexibility for students during the uncertain times brought on by COVID-19 and relieving financial pressures on students by allowing them to make progress towards their degree at other institutions. Harvard adopted a similar resolution for its international students in July.
The GSC will vote on both the resolution on transfer credits and a resolution to extend retirement plans to graduate students next week.
This article has been updated to clarify that a student who spoke against unhousing Greek life who represented themselves as unaffiliated with Greek life was previously affiliated with a fraternity.
This article has been updated to clarify that members of Greek organizations belonging to the IFC and ISC spoke on behalf of themselves, not their organizations.
This article has been corrected to reflect that that Isaac Harris is a member of a Greek organization which belongs to IFC, and not a member himself. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Anuka Mohanpuhr at anuka ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tammer Bagdasarian at tbag ‘at’ stanford.edu.