Greeks Request Student Council Vote
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012 02:12
In ancient times, they invented democracy. But at Kenyon, the Greeks are disenfranchised.
Greek Council, which currently does not have a vote on Student Council, is making a case for representation. At its meeting on Sunday, Dec. 9, Student Council discussed promoting the Greek Council representative, currently Billy Braff ’13, to a voting member of the Student Council. As it is now, only elected student representatives like class presidents, representatives, and the heads of various subcommittees, have the right to vote. The proposal comes as Student Council mulls over updates to Council bylaws and Article 3 of the Student Government Constitution.
“We’re just cleaning things up, and last meeting we decided to look at the membership, so who is on Council and what their roles are and the procedures,” Faith McDuffie ’13, Student Council president said.
Sam Baker ’13, Delta Kappa Epsilon president and co-chair of the Business and Finance Committee (BFC), proposed that the representative of Greek Council, who maintains observer status at Student Council meetings, have a vote. Baker cited the fact that approximately 30 percent of the campus is involved in Greek life, more than the quarter represented by each class representative.
“If we have someone who’s there because a fourth of the students are represented by that candidate, who is voting, and we have a person who’s there who represents a third of campus but isn’t voting, it seemed only logical to at least consider them,” Baker said.
But President S. Georgia Nugent is wary of this kind logic. “It’s easy to go down that path because you could imagine, for example, if they get a vote, why don’t student athletes get a vote?” she said. “I hadn’t heard about it yet, so I don’t have any reasoned view, but I would think you’re probably kind of privileging one group whereas there might be other kind of candidates for that.”
The proposal to have a Greek representative with voting power comes in the wake of Greek Council’s approval of the fraternity Sigma Phi Tau and the sorority Kappa Sigma Alpha — changes that some say are indicative of a shifting demographic.
“Is Greek life on the rise at Kenyon, and what does that mean for student government?” McDuffie asked. “I think that’s the question that we’re coming down to.”
Baker was hesitant to say if Kenyon was undergoing such a shift. “I don’t know if it’s a campus shift towards Greek life, but I think it’s a campus improvement in the Greek life that’s here,” he said.
President of Greek Council Andrew Tint ’13 expressed his approval for the proposal, which will be discussed in Student Council’s January meeting along with a host of other proposed changes to the constitution.
“I think we certainly deserve [a vote] in the sense that we’ve done a lot for this campus,” Tint said. “We are such a large part of it and such an influential part of it that I think we deserve the right to at least be in the discussion to help make certain decisions that the Student Council puts forth.”
Tint added that a Greek representative would contribute a unique perspective to Student Council. “I think if you’re going there as Greek Council, your vote will affect the Greeks. … If you’re going there as BFC heads” — both of whom are Greeks — “you’re not representing the Greeks, you’re representing your beliefs that will benefit the BFC and the school which at times may be different from the Greek Council’s and Greek life’s view, so I don’t think there would be an overlap or double views.”
McDuffie remains concerned that some groups on campus feel that student government does not represent them. “If they [Greeks] feel that their voice has not been heard, that’s a problem, but are there other students who feel that their voice hasn’t been heard and do we need to have specific positions for them to have a voice?” McDuffie asked. “I feel that student government as it is does take into account all students in representation. No student is left unrepresented. Even Greek members — they are represented in the fact that they are first and foremost Kenyon students so they either fall into the category of being a first year, sophomore, junior or senior. They’re represented.”
McDuffie said Student Council had to consider whether a voting Greek member would be disproportionately representative of male students, as more men are involved in Greek life than women.
“That definitely would be something to ask of Greek Council as a whole is to rethink that this is fair,” Baker said.
He said that while there are seven fraternities and four sororities, the genders were more balanced in terms of overall numbers. “I don’t see that as being a major issue. Most issues that affect Greek life are really not gender-based,” Baker said. “The values that underpin all Greek societies are integrity, honor, brotherhood and sisterhood.”
McDuffie said that it was important that the community at large participate in the decision. “I don’t feel like I can make a definitive decision by myself and nor should I, and nor should Council itself make a definitive decision without taking the thoughts of independent students into concern with this as well as the thoughts of Greek students into this,” she said.