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2002-03 Year-End Report of Committee on
Quality of Student Life

The Committee on Quality of Student Life is charged with examining issues concerning student life and was given four specific charges this academic year:

1. Investigate mechanisms by which how effective oversight of fraternities and sororities can be strengthened, particularly with regard to non-judicial oversight.

2. Examine "self-segregation" within fraternity and sorority memberships.

3. Continue to evaluate the progress of Penn's College House System in its effort to integrate academic and student life programs and services.  Report findings to Council and make recommendations as to how the initiative can be strengthened.

4. Investigate whether there is de facto housing discrimination in off-campus student housing, particularly against male students and married couples with children.

Due to the new training that was begun for committee members, the Committee did not meet until November.  Nevertheless, the Committee was able to meet six times and address three of its four specific charges, as summarized below. 

1 + 2.Fraternities and Sororities

The Committee is pleased to report successful closure on the issue of oversight of fraternities and sororities, which has been on its agenda and a significant part of its work for three years.  During the fall semester, the Committee finalized recommended changes in the structure and function of the Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Board (FSAB).  On January 29, 2002, the changes--which were enthusiastically endorsed by Dr. Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA)--were approved by the University Council.  The FSAB will now be chaired by a faculty member and the number of faculty members on this committee will increase by one to three faculty members.  In addition, the FSAB will now audit each fraternity and sorority chapter at least annually to review its compliance with Penn's Agenda for Excellence and assign specific goals for improvement.  The FSAB will still continue to meet with any chapter that has violated University policies and will monitor implementation of all probationary agreements.  Through these changes to the FSAB, both charges one and two of the Quality of Student Life Committee have been and will continue to be addressed on a regular basis.

3.College Houses

The Committee felt it did not have enough time to properly address the rich and complex issue of how the College Houses are integrating academic and social life.  Rather than do an inadequate job, it decided that this issue should be carried over and made a part of the charge for next year's Committee.

4.Off-Campus Housing

The Committee also addressed the issue of student housing.  Over the course of multiple meetings, several issues were unearthed; however many of these issues were already being addressed by the Administration in other venues.  The Committee met with Miki Farcus from the Office of Off-Campus Housing on two occasions.  Based on Miki's presentation, the Committee did not feel there was evidence of housing discrimination. Rather, the issue was one of economic means.  Students with more economic means have far greater choice of living situations and for in particular the graduate student who is married with children, may only have limited economic means and therefore has difficulty in procuring housing that they can afford and that meets their families needs.

The issue of housing is multi-faceted and is a University-wide issue.  Therefore, the Committee invited Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services, Omar Blaik, to visit with it and discuss various housing concerns.  In a wide-ranging and very interesting presentation of the University's residential aspirations, possibilities and plans, Mr. Blaik revealed that there is much happening on the housing front at Penn.  Numerous initiatives under exploration or underway give promise of significant improvements in the housing situation in the relatively near term.   However, considerations of confidentiality and "market effects" preclude going into the specifics at this time.  Mr. Blaik indicated that, because of the University planners' desire to have regular input as to students' needs, concerns and ideas, it would be advisable to have ongoing communication between his office and the QSL Committee, a suggestion the Committee welcomed.

5.Smoking in University Residences

Although not a part of its planned agenda, the issue of Penn's student housing becoming smoke-free was brought up at the last Committee meeting of the semester.  The Committee is in support of making on-campus housing smoke-free but recognizes that implementing such a change--which many of our peer institutions have accomplished successfully by administrative fiat--may call for a more consultative process at Penn.  The Committee did not have an opportunity to get involved in the smoking issue this year but thinks it is an important area for the Committee to address next year.


The Committee on the Quality of Student Life makes the following recommendations for consolidation of its accomplishments this year and continuation of its work in the upcoming year:

1.  The University Council should ensure that the recommended changes to the structure and function of the Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Board are implemented promptly.

2.  Since the issue of housing is multi-faceted, the QSL Committee recommends that a regular channel of communication be opened with the office of the Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services.  Mr. Blaik or his designee should meet with the QSL Committee at least once each semester next academic year so that the Committee can serve as a resource as the administration moves forward with housing plans.

3.  The agenda item regarding the College House system should be added to the charges for this Committee for the 2003-2004 academic year.

4.   Steps toward making the University residences fully smoke-free should be supported and encouraged.  We recommend that next year's QSL Committee take up this issue and focus, particularly, on how the desired change can best be accomplished.

--Diane L. Spatz, Chair

2002-2003 Quality of Student Life Committee

Chair: Diane Spatz (nursing); Faculty: Helen C. Davies (microbio/med), Laurie Loevner (radiol/med), Arnold J. Rosoff (legal studies), Jorge Santiago-Aviles (elec engr), Diane Spatz (nursing), Howard Stevenson (GSE), Michael Zuckerman (history); Graduate students: Manyee Chan, Jeremy Korst, Patricia Louison; Undergraduate students: Jordan Dubnow (COL'05), Morgan Mallory (COL'05), Dennis Tupper* (WH'03); PPSA:Lynn Rotoli (Housing and Conference Svcs), John Rudolph (Ofc Stud Employment); Ex officio: Terry Conn (VPUL), William Gipson (Univ. chaplain), Jeremy Korst (chair, GAPSA), Philip Nichols (dir, College Houses & acad svcs), Seth Schreiberg (chair, UA).

Back to Council Reports

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 30, April 22, 2003