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‘Take it with a grain of salt’: Former senators raise concerns about interim Greek life report

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Special Committee for Greek Life members Jonathan Lipman ’21 and Lenny DeFoe ’21 raised concerns about the Greek life student survey interim report released by the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) on June 22. The interim report made “judgments about people’s motivations and reasoning that aren’t borne out by the data” and excluded certain data points, Lipman said. 

The interim report shared student opinions on Greek life gathered through a survey conducted by the committee. The survey had a 40% turnout rate, with 2,538 undergraduates responding out of the 6,336-person student body. According to the report, the majority of respondents across demographics support unhousing or abolishing Greek life altogether, with 57.8% of respondents saying they were in favor of abolishing Greek life and 22.1% in favor of unhousing Greek organizations. 

But Lipman and DeFoe criticized the report, citing that it frequently confused the respondent population with the entire student body. They also pointed out the inclusion of a quote from a Graduate Student Council meeting that was not borne out by the survey data. Lipman advised students to take the interim report “with a grain of salt.” The two former undergraduate senators are currently working on a final report of the survey data that is set to be released around August. 

The committee was also composed of two representatives from the Abolish Stanford Greek (ASG) coalition, an Inter-Sorority Council (ISC) representative and an Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) representative. ASSU President Christian Gialdor ’21 M.A. ’22 appointed ASG representatives Noor Fakih ’23 and Sylvie Ashford ’21 to prepare an interim report due to concerns about timing and the role of Greek organizations on campus next year. 

The committee was originally supposed to meet with vice provost Susie Brubaker-Cole to discuss their surveyed data on students’ opinions of Greek life before releasing any such report. Due to scheduling difficulties, Giadolor felt it appropriate for a preliminary report to be released. 

The Special Committee on Greek Life’s senators, Lipman and DeFoe, did not review the report before it was sent out. The pair said that they were surprised to have seen the report sent out without the prior review of all committee members. Other committee members and Greek representatives Jack Chapman ’22 and Aracely Valencia ’21 did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment about the report. 

The ASSU has since added a statement at the beginning of the report clarifying that only Fakih and Ashford worked on the report. 

“We are still waiting for a clarification email from the ASSU executives to the student body. They committed to sending out one before the end of June and we are still waiting,” Lipman said. “We think it’s important that the student body understand who wrote this.” 

According to Fakih, they made the interim report for the University as they work towards reform in Greek life for the upcoming school year. Fakih and ASSU executives believed it was important for the administration to have this report to start guiding discussions about the future of Greek life over the course of the summer.

Lipman said he was disappointed when he found out about the report. Throughout his work on the survey as part of the committee, Lipman felt that committee members were able to engage in bipartisan work by holding productive conversations between representatives from ASG and IFC/ISC. The interim report did not show that bipartisanship, as it was only written by the ASG members of the committee. 

Fakih said that the committee had already concluded its meetings by the time she and Ashford began working on the interim report. Other members, including Lipman and DeFoe, were graduating or had already graduated. Lipman and DeFoe will confer their degrees at the end of summer quarter. Fakih also said she attempted to contact the ISC representative on the committee when creating the interim report but did not receive a response. 

IFC and ISC representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily.

Lipman and DeFoe raised other concerns about the report, including seeing recommendations at the end of the report they had never before seen. The recommendations included ending the University’s commitment to housing Greek organizations for the 2021-22 school year and reallocating that housing to other groups, with an emphasis on marginalized communities and students harmed by Greek life. 

According to Lipman, it was never the committee’s goal to come to an agreement and make recommendations on the future of Greek life due to the opposing interests of those serving on the committee. 

Echoing Lipman, DeFoe said making recommendations in the interim report without even having “completely analyzed all the data is also concerning, because the report doesn’t include any of the text responses … there were a lot of free response options that a lot of people filled out and it helps to color what the graphs don’t show and it helps to tell a story behind both the abolish side and the Greek-affiliated side.”

Fakih said the recommendations came from ASSU representatives during a public Undergraduate Senate meeting on May 24. 

DeFoe echoed Lipman’s comments by stating that once students know that the report was one-sided because it was issued by the ASG, then “that should tell them everything that they need to know, and what kind of information is being interpreted to them.”

Fakih defended the interim report. “I do understand some people being more so not happy that not every aspect of the survey was shared. That’s just not what the interim report is … because then it would just be the final report.”

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Carolyn Stein is a contributing writer from Los Angeles, California. She is pursuing coursework in psychology, East Asian studies and comparative literature. On campus, you can find her making loud noises with the LSJUMB. Contact her at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.