Abolish Stanford Greek calls on fraternities to un-house following ASSU Greek Life survey results

Nov. 4, 2021, 10:50 p.m.

Abolish Stanford Greek (ASG) is calling on the Kappa Sigma, Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Nu fraternities to move forward with unhousing following the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Greek life survey results indicating that the majority of students on campus support de-housing. 

The survey received 2,538 responses since its launch in the spring, and respondents largely reflected the demographics of the student body in terms of Greek affiliation. In total, 58% of respondents indicated that they would like to see Greek life lose some or all of their housing privileges, according to the survey report.

ASG cited previous public statements from representatives of these fraternities that they would move forward with unhousing if the survey results indicated that a majority of students supported this move. Now that the full survey results have been released showing student support for de-housing, ASG is urging the fraternities to follow through on their commitment. 

The ASSU’s Special Committee on Greek Life released their full Greek life survey report on Sept. 28. The survey initiative was launched after the ASSU passed a resolution last year supporting the unhousing of Stanford Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) and Inter-Sorority (ISC) organizations on campus. 

The report was written by former ASSU senators Jonathan Lipman ’21 and Lenny Defoe ’21. Other members of the Special Committee on Greek Life also provided feedback on the report. The report expands on the statistics and graphs presented in the interim survey report that was released last spring and includes testimonies from students about experiences with Greek life and Stanford’s social scene.

When asked about the future of Greek Life at Stanford, 83% of the respondents wanted to see some change in the current IFC/ISC system. Of those who wanted to see change, 41% of respondents wanted the IFC/ISC to be abolished completely and 17% of respondents were in favor of Greek life being unhoused, but not abolished. 

Because the question regarding the future of Stanford Greek life was not asked in a rank-choice format, ASG wrote that it is possible that there may be some preference overlap. “For instance, it may be the case that all of those who answered that they would like to see greek life abolished, favor greek life losing some or all of housing privileges over keeping it the same,” the survey report reads. 

Support for unhousing Greek organizations was consistent across all demographics, including race, gender and social-class. Those who expressed support for de-housing or abolishing Greek life were largely unaffiliated with sororities or fraternities. 

The survey results showed a disagreement as to whether students believed Greek organizations could be reformed or abolished, according to the IFC. However, in reflecting on the survey results, IFC wrote that they found “common ground in recognizing a need for positive change in the Greek community.”

ASG expressed gratitude for the community members that participated in the survey following its release. Participation from community members, including survivors of sexual violence, and IFC and ISC representatives that helped write questions, made the survey “unprecedentedly representative,” ASG representatives wrote.

Reform was the most popular answer for aspiring and current Greek affiliates, across most racial demographics. Among Greek life affiliates that responded to the survey, male and non-binary respondents were more likely to support Greek life remaining the same, while female respondents were more likely to support reform. 

ASG contended that, because the majority of students on campus want to see Greek organizations lose their housing privileges, the University should move forward by eliminating the Greek houses and opening the reserved houses to the whole student body. 

ASG also referenced a Graduate Student Council (GSC) meeting held in the fall of 2020, during which the GSC passed a joint resolution with the Undergraduate Senate encouraging Stanford to unhouse Greek organizations. During the meeting, Kappa Sigma representatives Isaac Harris ’21 and William Ogden ’21, Phi Kappa Psi representative Ben Hoskins ’22 and Sigma Nu representative Gordon Martinez-Piedra ’22 made a “public, official commitment” to support unhousing Greek organizations if the survey results showed an overwhelmingly negative response, according to ASG. ASG representatives said they reached out to Harris, Ogden, Hoskins and Martinez-Piedra but have not received a response.

“I can only speak for my organization as I don’t represent the IFC, but if a comprehensive campus-wide survey was conducted and a majority of Stanford students responded and supported unhousing, my organization would support unhousing,” Harris wrote in the Zoom chat function during the meeting, based on screenshots obtained by The Daily. 

Harris, Ogden and Hoskins did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Martinez-Piedra declined to comment. 

Although the report shows a range of opinions on what the future of Greek life at Stanford should be, almost all respondents agreed that change needs to occur within Greek organizations. 

ISC did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment about the report.

The report also quantitatively and qualitatively breaks down students’ opinions on why they wanted to change or abolish Greek life. For students who supported abolition, concerns about culture and behavior were the most salient reasons, with 93.7% of respondents concerned that IFC/ISC perpetuated “racism, classism and heteronormativity” and 91% of respondents concerned that “IFC/ISC Greek organizations perpetuate violence and dangerous behaviors.” In the case of students who supported the unhousing of Greek organizations, but not necessarily abolishment, 75.8% of respondents said that they disliked the power dynamics of housed Greek organizations. 

The community and social experience that Greek life provides was a strong supporting factor for those who wanted to see IFC/ISC either be reformed or stay the same. Of those who think Greek life should remain the same, 77.9% of respondents said that their “peers have had a good experience in IFC/ISC Greek life,” and 68.1% of respondents who supported reform felt that IFC/ISC provides “valuable social experiences to their members.” Of those who chose reform, 71.4% of students also expressed the opinion that it is possible for IFC/ISC to make progress on sexual assault and misconduct and excess alcohol and drug usage reforms.

Survey respondents also gave intimate accounts of their own experiences with Greek life. Some recounted Greek life as being the only space they felt comfortable in, while others shared experiences of discrimination and sexual harassment. 

Respondents also shared their thoughts on the future of Stanford’s social scene. “I think the outdoor bar at Tresidder was a great first step,” one respondent wrote. “One idea would be to turn Tresidder into this sort of social hub that could be open on weekends at a minimum.” 

According to ASG representative Sylvie Ashford ’22, ASG has a subgroup working on the future of Stanford’s social scene. “We know that the houses and the buildings themselves are what facilitate these events and nightlife on campus,” Ashford said. “We believe giving up spaces to other groups will mean those events will continue in a much healthier way.”

IFC said they are open to working with other organizations to host social and/or educational events. They added that “integrating Greek organizations within the greater Stanford community will require thoughtful effort from both housed and unhoused students and organizations on this campus.” At the moment, all IFC organizations are seeking partnerships with other neighborhoods to put on different events that are not just parties. 

According to Undergraduate Senate Co-Chair Alain Perez ’23, the bill that was passed last year calling on the University to unhouse all Greek organizations remains the position of ASSU executives. 

“I will continue to pressure the university to listen to student voices especially since the majority of students believe Greek life should be unhoused,” Perez wrote.

ASSU President Christian Giadolor ’22 also wrote that they “look forward to dialogue between FSL [Fraternity and Sorority Life] and the ASSU so that we can work together in reducing harm and keeping students safe.”

Carolyn Stein serves as the Magazine Editor for Vol. 263. She is double majoring in communications and East Asian studies. Her favorite activity is going on unnecessarily long walks. Contact her at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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