The topic of Greek life dominated the entire hour-and-a-half of FUSA’s Presidential Forum last night, with students weighing the pros and cons of its implementation at Fairfield University.
The students’ discussion overshadowed other forum topics like residence life and food options for next year.
Taking a backseat role, administration members like Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Pellegrino ‘90, Assistant Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs Jim Fitzpatrick ‘70 and Dean of Students Karen Donoghue ‘03 allowed students to debate.
More than 80 students and staff showed up for the event, with a few passerby peering down at the lower level Barone Campus Center.
Greek life is in the spotlight again because of the efforts of freshmen Matthew Peacock and Nick Ferry. They said that having a fraternity or a sorority of people with similar values will enrich a student’s experience on campus; as a whole, they can also help the community.
“We all want good things for the school,” Peacock said in his opening statement. Fairfield members of Omega Phi Kappa and Epsilon Sigma Pi supported the two freshmen from the crowd.
However, should Greek life come to Fairfield, Justin Paton ‘17 said, “I do feel like there would be a large separation” between those who would pledge for Greek organizations versus those who wouldn’t.
Sophomore Molly Camp agreed, saying she is “very against” Greek life at Fairfield. She lives close to Atlanta, Ga., an area well known for an active Greek life, and she said that many Greek organizations show “exclusion” and “[are] not multicultural.”
“You go into a group with the same opinions and viewpoints, and I don’t think that’s a good way to grow in society. I think [Greek life] would create barriers,” Camp said.
Freshman Renee Eurdolian, who has been a main advocate for sororities at Fairfield, responded, “We want to be diverse – as much as we can be. We wouldn’t want anything segregational.”
Ferry argued against “preconceptions,” saying, “I want everyone to have friends here. I want everyone to feel included here … We’re open to everyone.” Supporters of Greek life also argued that all clubs on Fairfield campus are exclusionary on some levels.
Students working in the Residential Colleges and in the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development said opportunities for community service already exist on campus.
Junior Stephanie Oliver, a Resident Assistant in Loyola Hall, said people need to “[look] at what Greek life is trying to do and [look] at what the University already has for students to do.”
People also asked for a distinction between clubs and Greek life organizations. Guerdy Jean-Poix ‘14 replied that fraternities and sororities create life-lasting bonds, while clubs only make temporary ones.
“You can be or do whatever you want [at Fairfield] but at the end of the day, when you graduate, within 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget you were part of a club,” Jean-Poix said. But as for Greek life organizations, “you have brothers who look after you,” beyond graduation. Though a Fairfield student, he is a member of Sacred Heart University’s Omega Phi Kappa.
Freshman Brandon Borsanyi said, “I think we want more of a brotherhood and sisterhood and a way to really get involved on a much deeper level, more than the 80 clubs [here] – put together – can provide.”
Eventually Pellegrino posed a question about infrastructure: If Fairfield had Greek life, how would it be maintained during a school year and also on a long-term basis? No concrete answers were given.
Donoghue asked students to consider the campus policies. She brought up common stereotypes of Greek life events, like excessive partying and hazing.
Donoghue does not agree with the stereotypes, but said, “That is a reality sometimes [for] some Greek organizations – not all.”
Borsanyi thinks people should get rid of such stereotypes. He said that the 40.2 percent of 189 students who oppose Greek life – polled by The Mirror – “comes out of the stereotypes that originated from the South.”
“The way things are run down there is very extreme,” Borsanyi said, but added that Greek life at Fairfield would be different.
Donoghue said, “My opinion based on this forum is that students still have a lot of dialogue to work out.” The discussion must involve not only the attendees at the forum, but also the whole school.
“It was nice to hear different voices,” Peacock said. “It was also good to clarify the misconceptions [about Greek life].”
“This is what college is about – you’re dialoguing,” Donoghue said, encouraging students to continue the conversation and share their thoughts with FUSA Senate members.
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