Following conversations with leaders in both fraternities and sororities, Residential Education (ResEd) plans to launch a new class this spring for new pledges in the Greek community. Plans to implement an educational component to the pledging process were initially met with complaints by members of the Greek community because of a cited lack of communication with ResEd.
According to Amanda Rodriquez, assistant director of Residential Education and Greek Program Advisor, a one-unit course, Athletic 1: Alcohol & Health in College Life, will likely be offered as an optional pilot program for new pledges.
The proposed course will explore health and wellness topics “particularly relevant to
the Greek community,” Rodriguez wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. This initiative will be part of a larger University effort to enhance new member education and programming.
Potential course topics include alcohol consumption, hazing, sexual assault and relationship abuse, strategies to address the bystander effect, responsible part hosting, leadership training, philanthropy and an overview of Greek life. The course aims to offer comprehensive information to pledges across campus, complement existing pledge programs and encourage partnerships between different Greek councils.
Residential Education met with Greek presidents and the head of Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) after news of the class broke. It continues to collaborate with fraternity and sorority presidents to shape and develop the pilot program.
However, there is confusion and uncertainty among students surrounding the class.
At a presidents’ meeting with representatives from ResEd and Vaden Health Center, Greek presidents did not seem to support ResEd’s original proposal to institute a mandatory, one-unit class this spring.
“The opposition is from the rapidity with which it happened,” said Brian Tolkin ‘12, president of the Sigma Nu fraternity.
Theta Delta Chi president Cody Sam ’12 echoed Tolkin’s sentiments.
“It was just so fast and we weren’t involved in the planning of it,” he said. “Mandatory, spring quarter just isn’t going to work.”
The presidents met again last week with Rodriguez, as well as Ralph Castro, associate director of Health Promotion Services (HPR) and Jarreau Bowen, a health educator at HPR. Castro and Bowen are scheduled to teach the Alcohol & Health course.
At the meeting, several Greek presidents voiced their concerns. Rodriguez said useful feedback from that meeting resulted in the decision to make the course optional.
According to Katie McKeon ’12, president of Delta Delta Delta, Castro and Bowen told students that the course would make Stanford a pioneer; no other American college has a mandatory class for credit for Greek pledges.
Although McKeon said she supported the idea of expanding education for pledges, she noted that representatives from Vaden already come to specific houses and individual chapter meetings for educational programs.
“This would make sense for them because it would consolidate their work into one class, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be effective,” she said.
Other concerns range from the logistics of the class to the way it may affect potential pledges’ perception of Greek life. Sam noted that it would deter people from rushing. Tolkin said it would be difficult to fit 600 people into a single room for the class, which is scheduled to take place in Cubberley Auditorium.
Brandon Mischel ‘12, president of Kappa Alpha, observed that athletes generally have practice on Fridays at the same time the class is slated to take place.
On the whole, Greek presidents seemed frustrated because details about the class have yet to be released. One president who requested to remain anonymous noted that ResEd appeared to be “winging it,” as it was unable to provide any specifics about the course syllabus or format. Bowen also said he has yet to see a syllabus, and the course is only four weeks away from implementation.
However, Rodriguez said “Residential Education/Fraternity and Sorority Life is working with a smaller group of presidents to review a possible curriculum” in the hope that the program will produce positive results.
“It is a priority for the University that new member education and programming be enhanced in coming years, and we look forward to working with student leaders from the Greek community to pursue these endeavors,” she said.