Matthew Renick, GS/JTS ’13 and former President of AEPi, was Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board—until today, when he resigned by email. “My decision,” he wrote, “is based in large part on my reaction to the Brownstone Application Committee’s decision.” He called Dean Martinez’s management of the committee “absurd and out-of-line,” and protests that the committee members “were not democratically elected.” (Four of six were Greek.)
He’s also angry that AXO, which won a house, got only four stars for the ALPHA Standards of Excellence, while Pike and AEPi, which each earned five stars, did not receive brownstones. He added, “For Greek organizations, the committee informed us that the ALPHA Standards of Excellence would be the primary evaluations used in making this decision. Clearly, however, this was a lie.”
Nevermind that as Chairman he assigned ALPHA grades “grade[d] the ALPHA standards.”
“Hopefully, I can once again live in good conscience,” he concluded.
Update, 11:42 pm: To correct, Renick has not graded or assigned ALPHA standards. In his position this year–as opposed to how it has been done in the past–he was assigned to work on grading, but with his resignation will not be involved in the process.
The full email:
Members of the Columbia Community,
I am writing this letter to inform you of my immediate resignation from the position of Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board. I will no longer notify chapter presidents of violations, and I will no longer hear cases. I will no longer work under the Director of Greek Life, and I will no longer grade the ALPHA Standards of Excellence. I am giving up all affiliations with the Greek Judicial Board, and I am giving up all attachments that I have to the Columbia University administration.
My decision is based in large part on my reaction to the Brownstone Application Committee’s decision to award the three brownstones to Q House, Alpha Chi Omega, and Lambda Phi Epsilon. Not only do I feel that the Committee and Dean Shollenberger made the wrong decision in this case, but I also feel that the entire process by which it was decided was fundamentally and morally wrong.
The idea that a committee of six students and four administrators could accurately and fairly decide which of 13 organizations was most deserving of a brownstone is ridiculous in its own right. But the first issue presented is that these students were not democratically elected. There were a number of ways the University could have appointed students to the committee. They could have looked to the student councils to supply their elected officials. They could have looked to SGB or ABC, and their elected members. They could even have looked to the Inter Greek Council or the Greek Judicial Board for their elected members, but instead the University decided to pick six random students in a secret, closed-door process, with no justification for their selection. The idea that these students could in any way represent the greater student body of Columbia is preposterous. The problems of this are now clearly seen, as one member of the committee voiced to other students that he would not accept any recommendation that did not include Q House. Not surprisingly, they were awarded a brownstone.
In addition, the entire way in which Dean Martinez managed the Committee was absurd and out-of-line. The applicants for the brownstones were first told that all proceedings would remain secret, and that all members of the committee would remain anonymous. Shortly thereafter, the names of the six students were released to campus media, and immediately these students came under intense pressure and scrutiny from the entire student body. It cannot reasonably be expected that these students did not face pressure, threats, and intimidation from other students. As such, it was not only irresponsible of Dean Martinez to do this, but was a fundamental flaw in the process that kept this from being objective in any way.
It should be noted that for all of these criticisms, I attempted to speak up. I asked repeatedly for meetings with the administrators involved in the committee, and was repeatedly denied. The only person to whom I could speak was Victoria Lopez-Herrera, and she repeatedly told me that she heard my complaints, but that nothing was going to be changed. All other administrators refused to speak to either me or other students who were raising similar concerns.
When the Committee laid out its standards for what would make an organization deserving of a brownstone, they cited things such as the ability to always fill the house, and the ability of an organization to make a positive contribution to the community. For Greek organizations, the committee informed us that the ALPHA Standards of Excellence would be the primary evaluations used in making this decision. Clearly, however, this was a lie. Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Alpha (along with the Lambda Phi Epsilon) were awarded five stars, the highest possible rating. Conversely, Alpha Chi Omega, the sorority awarded one of the brownstones, earned only four stars. As the Chairman of the board that grades the ALPHA standards, I must question their overall relevance and purpose, given the utter lack of attention paid to them in this process. In addition, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Pi Kappa Alpha demonstrated booming memberships, which would ensure a full house for years to come. Q House, on the other hand, lists only eight members, not enough to fill even half of one house. The Committee was not honest about what it was looking for, and I question what their true intentions were in this process.
This utter lack of honesty makes it clear to me that I can no longer in good faith remain a part of this University’s administration. I refuse to grade the ALPHA Standards when it is clear that they are not important to Columbia. I refuse to be a part of something that lies to the people it is designed to help. I refuse to subject myself to administrators who have hidden agendas. I refuse to be a part of an administration that punishes fraternities for Operation Ivy League, but does nothing to the also-implicated IRC. I refuse to be a part of something that continues to label students by the actions of other individuals. I refuse to be a part of an administration that does not believe in its students, and their ability to change and to grow and to learn.
For all the reasons listed above, and for countless others not mentioned here, I am resigning from the position of Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board, resigning from this administration, and resigning from a system that does not look out for my community or my interests. Hopefully, I can once again live in good conscience.
Chairman of the Greek Judicial Board, 2012
Photo via AEPi’s Twitter