2000-2001 Year-end Committee Reports
reports were presented at Council last spring.
Final reports for Community Relations,
Benefits, Pluralism, Quality
of Student Life, and Safety and Security,
were given to Almanac recently for publication.
Quality of Student Life
report discussed at Council, April 25, 2001
Quality of Student Life (QSL) Committee met nine times throughout
the academic year 2000-01 with an average attendance of eight members.
Its primary tasks included reviewing the progress of the college
house system, assessing the University's efforts to expand off-campus
housing, and examining the role of fraternities and sororities at
the college house system is doing extremely well. Governance structures
are functioning well, faculty and administrative resources to improve
the quality of life in the college houses are expanding, and students
seem generally satisfied with the college system. Indicators of
positive change include the increased programming of social, cultural
and intellectual activities in the colleges; and the growing demand
among upperclassmen to remain on campus. Efforts to renovate the
dormitories in the Quad are moving forward, as are improvements
to the high rises. The committee is duly impressed with the leadership
of Professor David Brownlee who has skillfully guided the process
of introducing the college house system to Penn. We recommend that
additional resources continue to be made available so as to guarantee
the continued success of this program.
QSL Committee was pleased to learn about new efforts underway to
purchase housing units off campus through the Partnership for Quality
Housing Choices in University City. The Committee also supports
efforts to increase the number of beds on campus. Financial aid,
especially for graduate students, needs to be re-calculated to include
the rising costs of housing near campus. We urge that University
Council make this a priority issue for the coming academic year.
QSL Committee met several times with leaders of the Inter-Fraternity
Council and the staff of Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
(OFSA), as well as with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct
and the Alcohol Policy Coordinator. We learned about the changing
picture of Greek life at Penn including the growing commitment of
these organizations to community service, leadership development
and health education. Penn Greek organizations see themselves as
more than social clubs, and this is a positive development. On the
other hand, there remain serious concerns about rates of
excessive drinking (and the behavioral disturbances associated with
this) that are also a feature of many Greek organizations. In addition,
pledging and hazing practices, the impact of Greek life on student
academic performance, and the exclusionary practices of fraternities
and sororities in member selection and social activities are concerns
for the entire Penn community. Last but not least, the University
incurs significant financial costs for overseeing the activities
of Greek organizations.
- A grading
system should be instituted to evaluate the performance of
each social organization. This type of system has been instituted
in other schools and allows the University to monitor the practices
of Greek organizations including pledging practices, leadership
training activities, community service activities, registration
vs. non-registration of parties, attendance at regular meetings
of the Inter-Fraternity Council, minor rule violations, etc.
grading system should be part of any ongoing accreditation process
and should be used to place organizations on probation if they
are consistently receiving failing grades. Probationary status
could carry with it requirements that the organization demonstrate
it is remedying cited deficiencies
Greek organizations at Penn need to have more consistent interactions
with their national chapters. While many groups have functional
advisor relationships, many do not. Increased interaction with
the national chapters will facilitate the monitoring of Greek
life at Penn, and will provide added impetus to reform efforts
the University is interested in promoting.
OFSA should separate out its two primary roles: accreditation
and program support. The accrediting role is largely one of enforcing
rules, and as such, places OFSA staff in a supervisory and evaluative
role. Program support is more collaborative in nature and requires
a collegial relationship. The conflict between these roles leads
to less-than-optimal performance of each set of obligations.
Council should recommend that the administration carry out a comprehensive
review of current policies regarding Greek organizations at Penn.
This could be an opportunity to solicit input from key constituencies
regarding several proposed reforms including banning alcohol from
all parties on campus, insisting that resident advisers be assigned
to live in fraternities, requiring all Greek organizations to
perform community service, etc. This review should also include
cost estimates for the University maintaining its administrative
oversight of the Greek system.
Anthony L. Rostain, Chair
Council Committee on Quality of Student Life
Anthony Rostain (Psychiatry). Faculty: Helen Davies
(Microbiology/Medicine), Dennis DeTurck (Math), Zoltan Domotor
(Philosophy), Daniel Perlmutter (Chemical Engineering), Diane
Spatz (Nursing), Michael Zuckerman (History). Graduate/Professional
students: Cassandre Creswell, Eric Eisenstein, Chris Leahy.
Undergraduate students: Nishchay Maskay, Kristen Miller,
Brendon Taga. PPSA: Lisa Felix, Anne Mickle. Ex officio:
Michael Bassik (Undergraduate Assembly), David Brownlee (College
Houses & Academic Services), Terry Conn (Vice Provost
for University Life designee), Kyle Farley (GAPSA), William
Gipson (University chaplain).
Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 6, October 2, 2001
October 2, 2001
Volume 48 Number 6