First-year ban from Greek quad mere rumor; truth revealed

Credit: Maria Raffaele/Art Staff Credit: Maria Raffaele/Art Staff This is the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on the Greek Quad. (credit: Aayush Kumar/Photo Staff) This is the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on the Greek Quad. (credit: Aayush Kumar/Photo Staff)

At the end of every summer, Carnegie Mellon students return to a slightly altered campus: Construction projects have been started or completed, new policies and procedures have been put into place, and new students are exploring the grounds. One particular element of our campus, Greek life, experienced a multitude of changes.

Physically, the Greek quadrangle is unchanged. But two staple resident groups, the fraternities of Kappa Delta Rho and Theta Xi, are gone.

Sisters from the sororities of Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma have quickly filled the halls once belonging to Kappa Delta Rho and Theta Xi, respectively.

What resonated most with first-years and upperclassmen alike during last week’s Orientation festivities was an incorrect rumor floating around campus.

That rumor insinuated that first-year students were explicitly banned from the Greek quadrangle during Orientation, a speculation that infuriated leaders in the Greek community and first-years as well.

Such a rule would “lower numbers on the Greek quad, and further make it harder for a fraternity to exist on Carnegie Mellon’s campus,” said Urvit Goel, the most recent president of Kappa Delta Rho, when asked how this potential ban might affect Greek life on campus. “It’s been tradition for [first-years] to get acquainted with Greek life during Orientation week.”

However, the rumor was based on a misinterpretation of an established rule that applies to all student organizations on campus. “None of that [the rumored ban] is true,” Director of Student Life Holly Hippensteel clarified to The Tartan. Student Life, Student Activities, and the rest of the organizers of Orientation week “just communicated an existing policy.... There is a university policy that all student organizations should only participate in Orientation through sanctioned Orientation activities.”
But were fraternities, which typically host alcohol-free parties that first-years can attend during Orientation, targeted specifically?

“Our expectation is that student organizations overall would follow the policy — this was not just a Greek thing,” Hippensteel explained.

Before Hippensteel and Student Life’s Coordinator of Greek Affairs Monica Bebie dispelled this rumor, however, much speculation floated around campus amid the university’s alleged reasons for supposedly disallowing first-years to visit the quadrangle during Orientation.

“I believe that the university’s [supposed] new policy that prevents first-years from going onto the frat quad is ill-advised,” said Lucian Cesca, president of the Student Dormitory Council. “From what I have heard, this policy has encouraged first-years to attend parties off campus, mainly at Pitt, rather than stay on campus.”

Rather than staying on campus to explore other social events, where they would have had protection under the amnesty program or Carnegie Mellon campus police, many first-years ventured off of the university’s grounds to look for parties.

Added Cesca, whose student organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life of all students living in on-campus dormitories, “I feel that these risks could be more detrimental to the first-years’ Orientation than anything that could come from going to the frat quad.”

It is possible that fraternities were spooked by the removal of Kappa Delta Rho and Theta Xi into misinterpreting the university’s reiteration of this existing policy.

“Orientation is just supposed to be about Orientation, not parties. Fraternities and sororities aren’t supposed to be hosting [first-years],” Hippensteel added.

Several brothers of various fraternities on campus felt that, despite the rumored ban’s being false, all student organizations’ recruitment periods could be harmed by such strict rules imposed by Student Life and the organizers of Orientation week. “It is also a critical week for Greeks to recruit [potential] new members,” said Goel.

Several members of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the self-governing body representing the on-campus fraternities, declined or were not available for comment to The Tartan.

However, IFC Vice President of Community Relations Chris Niessl insisted that Greek life at Carnegie Mellon does indeed have a future. “I don’t feel like there’s a movement toward the overall squandering of Greek life, in particular, fraternity life on campus,” he said.

Hippensteel and Bebie echoed this sentiment. In fact, the university is “looking to expand” Greek life at Carnegie Mellon — “there are 76 other groups nationally that we’re going to look to” in the next two years, Bebie explained.

Hippensteel concluded, “Part of Orientation is knowing that there are these opportunities ... and that all starts once the semester starts.”

In next week’s issue of The Tartan, please look for a follow-up article on the removal of Kappa Delta Rho and Theta Xi from the quadrangle, the addition of Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma to it, and more on the future of Greek life at Carnegie Mellon.