There’s been lots of talk about Barnard and Greek Life recently. We’re kind of confused, so we figured you would be, too. Basically, SGA is trying to figure out whether SGA/the Barnard administration should formally recognize (and therefore fund) the umbrella organizations that oversee the sororities, as well as the sororities themselves. We checked in with the task force currently figuring out how to advise the SGA on this issue. They cleared up the basics of Columbia/Barnard Greek Life, the current state of Barnard Greek Life, and the many layers of the conflict.

Update, 8:20 PM: Bwog has just checked in with the SGA task force to clarify a few points brought up in the comments.

  • The IGC is the InterGreek Council. It oversees the Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council (acronym alert: it’s also known as MGC) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
  • The IFC oversees all the sororities (wow, that was a terrible typo!) fraternities as well as ADP, which is why the Barnard students in ADP are under the umbrella of the IFC. As of 2009, 3% of the total Barnard involvement in Greek Life is involved with ADP since the only IFC organization Barnard students can join is ADP.
  • As of 2009, Barnard students made up 42% of the MGC population, and 49% of the Panhellenic Council population, while Columbia College made up only 38%.
  • There are currently four sorority chapters under the Panhellenic Council on campus: Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Sigma Delta Tau. Each chapter has no less than 55 members.
  • The number of  potential recruits released or withdrawn from Formal Recruitment has increased, leading the focus group to state that “that system is unable to accomodate the number of women wanting to affiliate.” The focus group has also found that the number of women wanting to be involved in Greek Life would “easily support a fifth chapter on campus.” In 2009, the focus group suggested adding a fifth chapter to “equalize the disparity between membership sizes among the councils” but that idea has since been unapproved.
  • The 2009 calendar year saw 249 Barnard students involved with Greek Life, which is 10.4% of Barnard’s total population. As of 2009, Barnard students made up 22% of Greek Life.
  • In recent years, the Barnard administration has made a gift of $1,000 to F@CU, which controls funding for the Greek Life councils. This past  year, Barnard paid slightly more than usual, justified in part by the fact that many Barnard women are now living off-campus in sorority houses. for reasons not disclosed by Barnard.
  • There are two phases of sorority recognition, titled Phases 1 and 2 (!) At Phase 1, the organization is not written into the administrative budget, but can ask for gifts, reserve space, and recruit for their organization on campus. Phase 2 is full recognition. Organizations cannot be approved at Phase 2 at least six months after they are approved from Phase 1, but it is generally understood that Phase 1 approval will lead to Phase 2 approval.
  • The Panhellenic Council is currently recognized by the Barnard administration under Phase 1. SGA has since decided to deal with all of the Greek Life-affiliated councils together, an ‘all or nothing’ situation, but PanHel remains approved at Phase 1.
  • Some sorority members have expressed their concern that it is ineffective to group Greek Life under one umbrella organization since the councils are all distinct.
  • Recently, the MGC has approached the SGA about the possible racial bias inherent in MGC not being recognized at Stage 1. Members of MGC are “extremely frustrated,” according to the SGA focus group, by their comparison to other sororities on campus, since they feel that they come from a history of marginalization and therefore support a distinct set of goals.
  • Since it is recognized under Phase 1, the Panhellenic Council employs a Graduate Assistant advisor and the MGC and ADP do not receive any formal support from Barnard, giving the Panhellenic Council a big advantage.
  • Three separate motions were brought to the SGA to explore IGC  recognition in Spring 2010.
  • The SGA focus group is working on three options on the future of Barnard Greek Life that they will bring to SGA as recommendations. SGA will then make the final decision about recognition of Barnard Greek Life.
  • None of the other Seven Sisters colleges, of which Barnard is a member, have recognized sororities on campus.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.