Daniel H. Weiss, then president of Lafayette College, sent the following email to the campus community Dec. 13, 2011:
As most of you are aware, at its October meeting the Board of Trustees voted to implement a series of recommendations proposed by the Working Group on Greek Life and Campus Community. While these recommendations, to be implemented over the next three years, were designed specifically to improve Greek life, the intended outcome is to provide every Lafayette student with more – and better – living and learning opportunities.
Lafayette has long been characterized by a living-learning community that fosters students’ development as leaders and as campus and community citizens; that promotes high academic achievement, nurtures a lifelong love of learning, and fosters the development of close friendships and a sense of shared purpose. These are ideals that our Greek community has historically championed and that our faculty consider essential to a first-class liberal arts education.
Both the Working Group and the Board acknowledge the value of Lafayette’s Greek tradition and the noteworthy contributions that many fraternity and sorority members make to campus life. There were, however, serious concerns expressed about the differences between the records of Greek members and the general student population in such fundamental areas as academic achievement and student behavior. The Working Group’s report also notes the degree to which the Greek system falls short as model for diversity and inclusiveness.
Since October, I have received constructive feedback from many alumni, students, faculty and staff. Taking this feedback into consideration, we have been working hard to develop a plan to guide the campus through a transparent implementation and assessment process. If successful, the process will support a Greek system that complements and enhances the living-learning environment that characterizes Lafayette at our best.
As a result of our planning, and at the direction of the Board, an Implementation and Assessment Group on Greek Life (IAGGL) has been formed to develop specific metrics for improvement, and to oversee and measure progress between now and June 1, 2014, the end of the review period. Celestino Limas, Vice President for Campus Life and Senior Diversity Officer, will chair the Group.
In order for the work of IAGGL to be successful, all constituencies must work together toward the common goal of strengthening our community through a Greek system that reflects and embraces the characteristics I described earlier. The Group must be representative of those constituencies in its membership and must communicate openly, clearly, and frequently.
IAGGL includes members of the four faculty governance committees that touch most closely upon Greek life: Student Life, Student Conduct, Academic Progress, and Diversity. In addition, for their general perspective beyond committee charges, two at-large faculty members are included.
The Group also includes key administrators who work with students: the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Associate Dean of Students and Director of Religious Life, and the Associate Dean of the College.
There are five student members, two of whom are members of Greek organizations, and three alumni members, two of whom belong to Greek organizations. This corresponds to the proportion of Greek affiliation within the current population of students on campus and also within the alumni population.
The Group also includes one Trustee. A complete list of members can be found at the conclusion of this letter.
IAGGL will establish clear metrics – including annual benchmarks – for evaluating progress toward the objectives for Greek organizations outlined by the Board. I am committed to making the process as open and transparent as possible. Progress reports will be shared with alumni, students, faculty, and staff on a regular basis through emails that will point to updates on the IAGGL website (http://sites.lafayette.edu/greek-life-wg/). That site will also contain information about the original Working Group, its recommendations, and the Board’s response. Input and feedback will be sought from faculty, students, staff, and alumni through a series of quarterly, live “Town Meeting” webinars, beginning in mid-February, that will be recorded and posted on the IAGGL website for future reference. Further details about these will be available on the IAGGL website beginning in late January.
I am confident that, with a successful implementation and assessment process, Lafayette can become a model for other American colleges by offering an even more welcoming, inclusive, and supportive community that provides an exceptional residential experience for all of our students. The Board and I are committed to this vision, and we look forward to the assistance and support of our Greek students and alumni in achieving these important goals.