Many say that interest in Greek life at Columbia is at an all time high, and it is so. Just a few days ago, PanHell picked AOII and Gamma Phi Beta to fill the two openings they set aside for new sororities, and Greek life flexed its upvote muscles in that comment thread. Last May, the IFC approved a Columbia chapter of SAE (despite vicious vicious hazing at Dartmouth and a death at Cornell). In 2010, Barnard searched its soul, officially recognizing and funding sororities.
“Regardless of people’s individual feelings about Greek life,” Greek life is growing.
And so this semester Greek life at Columbia finds itself at a plastic juncture. The three 114th brownstones occupied by Pike, PsiU, and AEPi before they were booted for their connection to Operation Ivy League are open to repopulation by student groups, Greek and otherwise. Unsurprisingly, lots of different cliques are salivating over those sweet, sweet brownstones. Applicants include AEPi, Pike, AXO, Lambda Phi Epsilon, The Student Wellness Project, and Writer’s House.
Though the list of applicants isn’t out (the application isn’t due until October 5th), Dean Terry Martinez wrote to Bwog in an email, “My guess, however, is that we will share a list of applicants. My goal is to be as transparent as possible, while maintaining the integrity of the process.”
How will the lucky three groups be picked? Community Development set up the Brownstone Review Committee for expressly this purpose. It was selected last year to “oversee a fair review process that will determine which groups will reside in the 536, 542, and 546 brownstones located on 114th Street.” Of the 7 students picked, 4 were Greek (all of those being from fraternities or sororities already possessed of brownstones, since members of applying groups cannot sit on the committee). Thus the student count was 4-3, advantage Greek.
However, the committee has changed somewhat since last year. Between the committee selection and today, one of the then-unaffiliated committee members, Daniel O’Leary, became an initial member of the SAE colony at Columbia, swinging the student count to 5-2, advantage Greek. Anthony Testa, CC ’12 and Delta Sig and InterFraternity Council president during Op Ivy League, graduated, but according to Dean Martinez “will have voice in the deliberations and will join us via conference call or Skype.”
How much O’Leary’s 2-point swing will matter isn’t clear: students will have an equal voice with fellow committee members, but the end is not a vote, it’s a “consensus.” So: will Greek-affiliated committee members throw in with their own? Will an unaffiliated student support a fraternity or sorority which turned them away at the door? Is Bwog looking at two different visions of how 114th St—and Columbia—ought to be, and if so, can they be reconciled by consensus?
According to Dean Martinez:
The way I see the process moving forward is that every member will review every application and we will discuss as a group. Everyone will have an equal voice. […] Once we have come to consensus, the committee will make recommendations to Dean Shollenberger, who will ultimately make the final decision.
Of course, opinions regarding Greek life run the gamut. Those aside, the campus does know what to expect from Greek life—both in general, and for the brownstones in question. What must be determined by the committee is whether other groups, if granted these unique spaces, might better furnish “experiences to students in residence that promote intellectual, social, emotional and interpersonal growth and development,” potentially on weeknights.
Once again, it’s not too late to apply and say what kind of culture you want at this university. On November 9th, the Committee will announce its decision, and with it the late-night fate of 114th Street, at least until the next NYPD raid.
The Members of the Brownstone Review Committee and Their Affiliations
Students (5-2 Greek):
“Team Sigma Chi” via Spectrum