Renick Speaks On Resignation

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Bwog spoke with former Greek Judicial Board (GJB) Chairman Matthew Renick about his resignation following the decision on the 114th street brownstones. The GS/JTS student is former President of AEPi. In interview below, Renick explains himself. 

Bwog: Do you think the statement was appropriate? Do you regret sending it?

Renick: No, I do not regret sending it.

Bwog: Do you think that it will positively or negatively affect the image of AEPi and the broader community?

Renick: The statement was not made on the behalf of AEPi, which is why I did not mention my affiliation with AEPi in the letter. The statement was made as the Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board and as a representative of residential programs and the Columbia University Administration. I felt that there had been significant problems with the way the whole thing had gone. I don’t think it should have any bearing on the reputation of AEPi. …this was not done or sanctioned by AEPi, nothing like that.

Bwog: Your criticism is with the result of the committee as a whole, but the outcome disappointed you.

Renick: Yes, the outcome did disappoint me, but the outcome itself is not the problem I had. It was that the administration had said, “This is what the brownstone committee is looking for.” Then, clearly, that is not what they actually looked at. They told me, and every other chapter president, that the ALPHA Standards of Excellence were going to be the most important factor in determining – if they were going to choose a Greek organization, that was going to be the way they evaluated them against each other. And for them to then take a 4-star chapter over two 5-star chapters…I felt like they had not been truthful to me.

Bwog: Can you explain the ALPHA Standards process?

Renick: ALPHA Standards was put in place in December of 2010 as a way to evaluate every Greek organization on campus.

Bwog: Was that a response to Operation Ivy League?

Renick: No, it was actually put in place one day before Operation Ivy League. It’s split up into five different categories which spell out ALPHA: Academics, Leadership, Philanthropy, Housing, and Alumni. They’re available; you can see it online. Based off those results, fraternities and sororities could be evaluated against each other and would have certain privileges. If you were below three stars, you were put on every kind of suspension, and if you did not improve the next year you would be kicked off campus. If you got five stars, you would be in the running for chapter of the year, you’d get funding to go to your national organization’s convention, things like that.

Bwog: Were you told ALPHA Standards would be used to judge each Greek organization against each other, or separate between sororities and fraternities?

Renick: The understanding was that all Greek organizations would be held to their ALPHA Standard scores. This was never put down in writing. This was never the most clear thing in the world. That was one of my big complaints. I kept bringing this up to the administration, trying to speak to people and say, “This doesn’t make sense,” and I wasn’t getting any response. I was just getting told, “We’re going to go through with it. It will be fine.” So, yes, my understanding was that every Greek organization was going to be held to their ALPHA Standard score.

Bwog: Do you think the fact that AXO got a brownstone despite the fact that they had a lower ALPHA score than AEPi is a sign of some ulterior motives?

Renick: I can’t speak to the committee’s potential ulterior motives. What I think is, they told us that ALPHA Standards was going to be the most important factor, and they had a lower ALPHA Standard score than us. AXO does great work on campus, and they were very deserving of this brownstone. What I don’t think is OK is the process by which this was decided. Information was presented to the Greek community, and it does not seem like what they told us is how they actually evaluated these things.

Bwog: Do you think that the Operation Ivy League legacy had any impact on the decision?

Renick: Unfortunately, yes. Even in some of your comments on Bwog, on Spec, the thing by bored@butler. It’s clear that Operation Ivy League is still remembered on this campus. We did not get any specific questions about it during the presentation, which we were prepared to address. Now, I can’t say whether or not it was, but I’m searching for reasons why 5-star chapters lost out to 4-star chapters.

Bwog: Do you think the notion that history should impact the current decision making process is ill-conceived?

Renick: No, I think history absolutely plays a role, but I think you also need to look at what AEPi and Pike overcame. Look at AEPi and Pike and compare it to Psi Upsilon, for example. PsiU is still here, but they only got three stars, and they’re not recruiting at the same level as AEPi and Pike. AEPi and Pike made very concrete decisions to change the way they did things. If you’re going to look at us as Operation Ivy League, that’s fine. That is a part of our history, and that is very valid to bring up. But you should also recognize the challenges we had above and beyond the other organizations that were applying and decide whether or not we responded to it. I think the fact that we’re a 5-star chapter proves we did a lot.

Bwog: The first thing you criticize about the committee is that it was made up of, you say, “random students.” So what do you think would have been a better way to form the committee?

Renick: The committee was supposed to be representative of the Columbia student body, at least in some capacity – this was never really made clear. But I think that there are so many elected people on this campus–you have the four councils which are democratically elected, ABC and SGB, even the Inter-Greek Council and the Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board. These are people who Columbia students have put in these positions of power, that they believe can lead, and I’m saying if all those people are available why do we need to have a separate application process where two or three administrators are picking members of the committee.

Bwog: You also criticize Dean Martinez for failing to protect the anonymity of the people on the committee, implying that they would face social pressure to decide in a popular way, maybe in line with Bwog comments…

Renick: Initially, we were told that the committee would remain anonymous, the same way ALPHA standards committee remains anonymous. That would have made a lot more sense because the problem is, you release these names, you guys [Bwog] and Spec’s gonna write about it, people are gonna talk about it. And that puts pressure on individuals. I’m not saying anyone was subjected to threats or anything like that, I’m just saying I don’t know. It’s not fair to put these students in that position because you don’t know what anyone’s going to say to them. Why would you subject them to this when it could be done in a much more effective way? If you are going to release the names and have this be an open and transparent process, it needs to be with people who are democratically elected–comfortable speaking on behalf of students.

Bwog: Do you think there’s a dominant anti-Greek bias on campus?

Renick: No. I don’t. I think a number of people are ambivalent to it. The Greek community is very strong internally, everyone in the Greek community really believes in it and in what we have to offer. There is a certain segment of the Columbia population that is extraordinarily anti-Greek, for reasons that I don’t understand, but I don’t think there is a dominant anti-Greek bias. That might come out in Bwog and Spec comments, but I don’t think that there actually is.

Bwog: Anything you’d like to clarify for our commenters?

Renick: Just that I support the organizations that got the brownstones. My argument is not with them, it’s with the process. This was not done honestly, and there’s a million ways it could have been done better. The fact that there were a variety of students that were not listened to, and that obvious problems were pointed out and ignored, shows that it was not an effective way to go about it. These three organizations will do great things in their houses and I support them, but that does not make me think that the process was done the way it should have been.

Interview edited for brevity and clarity.

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  1. 3 new residences on 113th...  

    Means that they allocated their space inefficiently. Q House should be there.

    • CC'15  

      Yes, they could have satisfied Q-House and Native American Council with the 3 new spaces on 113th, and had a combination of any 3 of Lambda, AChiO, AEPi, and PIKE.

      But if they were to include either AEPI or PIKE, they'd naturally have to include the other.

      So if arguing Lambda vs. AChiO i would've said Lambda, not only because Asian-Americans have no space, but also because AChiO is 2/3 or 3/4 Barnard girls, yet they can only house 2 Barnard girls in their brownstone. Go figure...

      Unfortunately COLUMBIA doesn't think the way I do...

      Instead of making 5/6 groups happy, they made 3/6 groups happy. typical administration bullshit

      • Anonymous  

        Just because they can only house 2 Barnard students (which is really stupid because the other sororities can house 5) doesn't mean that's a huge disadvantage! The house will still be open to all the members, they just can't physically live there. It only houses 22 out of over 100 anyway, so how is that fair? It's not, but you work with it. That's certainly not a reason to not give them a house.

  2. Anonymous

    Take this post down. This is old news.

    • Anonymous  

      Bwog: Do you think there’s a dominant anti-Greek bias on campus?

      Renick: No. I don’t. I think a number of people are ambivalent to it. In fact, I'm going to rape a pre-frosh, and I don't think anyone on campus is going to care about it, assuming they even find out. There is a certain segment of the Columbia population that is extraordinarily anti-Greek, but they're just butthurt about being anally ravaged during our pledging ceremony, and then rejected.

  3. Robert  

    So let me get this straight Renick.

    You care so much about campus life, values and leadership, that you quit after you didn't get your housing?

    If you weren't so blind by your greek bros (I mean drunk) you would understand that giving housing to a group that only two years ago shamed this institution makes no sense.

    • Greek  

      this is the exact greek-bias that Renick was referring to as atypical to the general Columbia student body.

      If your perception is that only Fraternities brothers get "drunk" take a goddamn look around New York City, and around this whole country.

      Also fraternities didn't shame this institution at all. Our academic ranking has remained at #4, our admissions rates have gone, and we continue to be one of the leading universities in this nation. If anything the P.R. the NYPD created for the event helped Columbia be more relevant in the city.

    • Don't Generalize  

      I'd also like to point out that during the semester when Operation Ivy League had occurred, Beta members boasted an average GPA of 3.8.

      • Fraternities  

        always point to their high gpas, and that's commendable. But they never mention the fact that many of them *strongly encourage* members to donate copies of problem sets, solutions, and exams to test banks they hold. Even if these are never used in an academically dishonest (ie plagiarism) way, they are certainly a centralized resource that are advantageous over other students. That's fine, and success by any (non-morally questionable) way is still success, but don't hold your gpas up as if you are just the right tail of the distribution in work ethic when in reality, you have access to years and years worth of previous solutions.

        • Anonymous  

          Is that any different from athletes that sign up for classes together because older team members have answer keys, or graduates of some well-represented, elite boarding school who get study guides from the year above? Most selective, close-knit organizations or groups of people that have been on campus for decades and get scrutinized for their GPAs are going to have that in some shape or form. Being unaffiliated often puts you at a competitive disadvantage, which is the real issue. Greek life is only a part of it.

        • Beta

          If it was that easy, everyone would have a 3.8. In the case of the fraternities I think you're thinking of, their GPA's are like sub 3.0 even with flagrant cheating. Try treating Greek organizations as separate entities with different habits instead of generalizing. You seem adverse to the idea that, at an Ivy League institution, a group of students who occasionally throw parties would be able to pull good grades. Especially considering how small Columbia fraternities are compared to state schools, our GPA's actually do represent typical work ethic of our members. We (Beta) are mostly Math/Physics/Chemistry/American studies/Biology majors anyway, which, in the more serious classes, are hard to cheat on. I know you didn't say "Beta cheats" directly, but you're implicating us in your blanket statements about Greek life which is why I felt the need to respond.


      • Anonymous  

        Gotta love those outliers, eh?

  4. Bill

    "What I think is, they told us that ALPHA Standards was going to be the most important factor, and they had a lower ALPHA Standard score than us."

    Just because it's the most important factor, that doesn't mean it's the only one. Sure, they should have been more transparent in what the other factors were, but unless they said that the ALPHA Standards were the ONLY factor they would consider, you can't conclude that they were necessarily dishonest.

  5. not just ALPHA standards  

    wasn't it also how you'd use the brownstone? I don't know much about ALPHA standards, but would a 1 star difference be compensated for with programs for the community? AXO has been all over campus this semester, and might have proposed better ways to use the townhouse. The administration is not going to see parties as ways to use the brownstones, so AEPi and Pike were at a disadvantage. Also, anything to do with it just being more equitable between frats and sororities? There are many more frats with houses, so with 2 new sororities coming, it would be bad to have half of the sororities without townhouses.

  6. whoops  

    meant to say use the brownstone. you get it.

  7. Anonymous

    Alpha standards are a snapshot of a Greek organization's performance in the past year, and should not be representative of the organization's overall quality. Renick is right in that the fact that AEPi and Pike managed to get 5 stars the first year the standards went into effect is a noteworthy achievement. At the same time though, the lack of experience other fraternities/sororities had with the system led to some of the low scores given. For example, Beta lost a star for not getting some academic forms in on time. I expect to see many more 4 and 5 star rankings this year, which weakens Renick's point. One year's rating should not be the only factor in a Greek organization deserving a brownstone.

  8. Anonymous  

    I respect his decision. I've dealt with Dean Martinez in an official capacity many times during my years here. She hates students and doesn't care what we say. She has her own motives and uses "student-led initiatives" to push her agenda and pretend it was our decision. This is why I have refused to participated in anything that she has sanctioned; I'd rather not add any validity to her totalitarian decision making that she masks as democratic and student supported. She is the dictionary example of two-faced. (let me modify this--I don't know her personally. Perhaps she is a super nice person. But her professional persona is...well, exactly what I've just said)

    tl;dr: he's not mad that they didn't get their housing back. He's mad that Dean Martinez didn't execute the process fairly/transparently (typical of her) and that he can't support this.

  9. Anonymous

    The more important thing: "four-star" as opposed to "five-star". Frats have a rating system? Jesus. Can't we just acknowledge them as what they are -- places for people to get drunk, and hang out with a collective group of people?

  10. Anonymous

    1. ALPHA Standards was the most important factor--but not the only one. Which allows for a 4-star chapter to win out over a 5-star one.
    2. Why is it, that if the process was handled incorrectly, that he spoke out now, after the results were out? He says himself that the process was identifiably faulty as it was taking place, so why wait rather than try to correct the process? The only reason I can imagine is that he was still hopeful things would go his way and leave him with no reason to oppose an allegedly unfair process.
    3. The committee selected was majority Greek. I find it odd that he speaks negatively of that selection process, when in fact, it should have been working in his favor.

  11. Anonymous  

    I think this guy might like attention

  12. Anonymous

    Why doesn't Barnard help support the sororities -- like provide them with space -- when they make-up a majority of the membership? Why are CC and SEAS student fees going to support Barnard women in these organizations?

  13. Van Owen  

    Where else can we go bang those Barnard babes? I'm not showing those bitches where I live.

  14. Barnard '13

    Please leave me out of it, IDGAF about greek BS. thanks

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