A welcome change for Greek life after a series of scandals and bad publicity, Greek Life coordinator Jason Allen spoke Thursday in Hinman College’s Roosevelt Hall, focusing on the positive aspects of fraternities and sororities.
The event addressed both hazing and the good experiences that Greek Life offers. It was organized in direct response to the scandals.
Allen, a graduate student studying student affairs administration, expressed the importance of moving forward in a safe manner.
“We want Greek life to be seen in a positive light, and we need student safety to be a main concern,” he said.
The event covered the definition of hazing in the student code of conduct. Allen admitted the definition had gray areas, but tried to simplify it.
“The general rule of thumb that we like to use, just to keep things a little bit cleaner, is if Dean Thompson was at your event, during your new member event, would you feel comfortable doing that event in front of her,” he said, referring to April Thompson, the dean of students.
He also emphasized fixing problems rather than punishing Greek Life organizations for hazing.
“Our goal is to make sure that things are going forward safely, so if they’re coming to us for some real talk and ask for suggestions on what they can do we can’t hold that against them,” Allen said.
He shared the benefits of his own Greek Life experience, such as team-building activities and his time as chapter president.
“There’s tons of positive experiences that come out of Greek Life,” he said. “For me, myself, I went to SUNY Oneonta and pledged Phi Kappa Psi in 2006, and I based basically a career off of joining a fraternity.”
Allen hoped that despite the problems Greek Life has faced, people will begin to focus on the good, such as charity events organized by fraternities and sororities.
“I think once people realize that students are doing all these great things that the culture shift is going to be turned toward a positive light,” Allen said.
Spencer Weisser, a resident assistant, hosted “Greek Life: A New Chapter” as an academic event, part of his RA responsibilities. He chose the topic in response to concerns his residents brought up.
“Some of my residents had expressed interest in joining Greek Life, but they had reservations because they knew people who had been hazed and they knew people who were connected to organizations that had been dechartered,” said Weisser, a senior majoring in management.
Weisser made the event hoping to open students’ minds about Greek Life.
“I encourage students to look at every organization and find some place that makes you happy, some place that you won’t be afraid or belittled,” he said.
Ruben Martinez, a member of Alpha Delta Phi Society, said he believes the event was a positive step forward for Greek Life.
“I think that Jason showing up for the event benefits us and shows that the administration is being proactive in making things better with Greek Life,” said Martinez, a senior majoring in economics.