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Monday, February 9, 2009

Beta Iota Delta - BID Day 2009

I have not been a huge fan of Greek life on campus. As the Dean, I have had to deal with fall-out from Greeks organizations: a call from an 80-year-old neighbor who has to sleep in his garage because the fraternity neighbors routinely held loud parties; the hazing cases in which the victims were ostracized and ridiculed; the sexual assaults (yes, I know they are not always fraternity-related); and even the limits of brotherhood when the going has gotten tough (long story). There are the groups that have come and gone, and come back and gone again. There are the alcohol poisonings. There are the tasteless and crass parties. Some of it reminds me of when I was in college. That's not really a good thing. In all, it is hard to embrace the Greek culture from where I sit. It is difficult, too, to see the value added to the University. This is not just a Trinity issue, I might add.

But then again, there are times when it is abundantly clear that Greek life is something that is absolutely crucial to the students who join in, and thus to the University. Bid day is one such example. Current members assemble by the Miller Fountain on campus and as new members learn of their inclusion in the club, they joyously run up the hill from their dorm rooms to meet with their new mates. It is impossible to see bid day and not be caught up in the excitement of it. See the videos posted below to see firsthand what it was like this year (February 6, 2009). See the bottom of the Blog for a full slide show (click on the image to enlarge and play as a slide show). I should note that when I went out to see the frivolity, it was merely to take one picture for the parent newsletter. I got swept up in the excitement though (obviously) and kept on clicking.

Unlike years past, bid day has grown to be a non-alcoholic event (as far as I know). The students are extremely well-behaved and spirited, and don't seem to mind the intrusive lens of the Dean. Also unlike years past, I have less of a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that new members will go out that night and be hazed. Maybe I am naive. Maybe I am just hopeful. Maybe times are changing.

It has been a long transition, but today's Greeks at Trinity have been better educated about hazing, about risk management, and about safety for all members. This has not been easy and has come with the hard work from the likes of Pete Neville, Marcella Leung, Becky Spurlock, Katie Jundt, and Josh Beebe. And it has taken open-mindedness from some Greek leaders to see that changes were needed. Getting the general membership on board has not always been easy.

At the alumni dinner on Friday night a former Chi Beta received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Even there, the value of Greek life was apparent, as a group of Betas-past were at a table to support their former sorority sister.

So what does Greek life at Trinity really offer? Is it the lifelong friendships, the community service, the allegiance to the University among alumni, and the excitement of shared experiences? Or is it the parties, the problems, the risks, and some adversity between students and faculty/staff/and other students?

It is probably a bit of both. And one thoughtless or careless act can reverse any positive feelings in a hurry. But last Friday anyways... the pictures don't lie: It all seemed pretty good.

You Tube links:
Bid Day Excitement One
Bid Day Excitement Two

11 comments:

Mom said...

As a parent of a "Trinity Greek" I have spent the last year in a steep learning curve about Greek life while I developed acceptance and tolerance of my daughter's choice. I, too, was not a fan of Greeks and although I still have reservations, mainly around the time commitment, I now see the value. Over the past year I have met many wonderful, passionate, and motivated Greeks who forge bonds and lasting friendships. I see a support system based on friendship, trust and mutual caring. I see that not only do they play together but that they study together. I see them trying to balance getting an education and having a life.
I thank you Dean Tuttle and Trinity University for the education on hazing, risk management and prioritizing an education. I also thank you for observing and recording Bid Day. I'm sure your presence did not go unnoticed and your words and tolerance will be appreciated. Greek Life is not for all of us but it does fill a need for some students and if done with respect and safety in mind, appears to have lasting rewards.
Thanks for the videos. I felt their excitement!

tigerpaw1452 said...

It might have seemed good on that day, but let the drinking begin. Alcohol still seems to be a dominating force in the Trinity Greek system; and the rejection to those who didn't get a bid is inexcusable in this new world of acceptance and tolerance. Sorry. I just don't "get it".

The Kemps said...

Even as a founder of AX, I am still constantly amazed at the amount of support I have from both those bonds of friendship that started over 10 years ago to the letters of encouragement AXs send to one another - alumni or current. I also love that people often react in shock when they hear that I was "a Greek." The sorority for me was and is a great network of women from all walks of life that shared with me a piece of who they are, as we continue to grow together through thick and thin. We aren't always - esp. at Trinity - what some people may negatively associate with what is being "a Greek." Love, Fleo

klop56 said...

Two former Chi Betas were recognized as distinguished alumni. Melody Boone Meyer and Beverly Watts Davis were BOTH in Chi Beta Epsilon.

mumsiestealth said...

Attempted to leave a comment earlier but it didn't come through. It took my daughter a long time to convince me that it was worthwhile to join the Greek system at Trinity. She explained that it would fulfill her lifelong desire to have a large group of girlfriends who shared a common bond, volunteering together, and joining in school activities.

Sadly, she got the flu during the critical "bonding time" the end of January and some of the upperclass sorority members weren't happy with her that she had to cancel her "dates" with them. When it came down to it, those sorority members voted against her and she received no bid. She was punished for being ill.

Our daughter's entire group of friends received bids to this sorority and now she feels she's on her own, no friends left, as they are required to spend a certain number of hours each day with the sorority for however many weeks this goes on. We have a crushed 1st year who no longer even wants to BE at Trinity. How sad.

Is this how a student learns to get involved?

Jeanne said...

As a former Trinity Greek, parent of a current Trinity Greek and community advisor to a Trinity sorority I think the Greeks hold value.

I learned skills as a member of a sorority that transferred into the business world and that I still use today. I learned how to manage a budget much larger than my checkbook, how to run a business meeting, how to navigate through personalities and emotions to accomplish a goal, how to organize my time and large campus events and leadership skills.

I also made friends that to this day would show up on my doorstep at any time if I needed help.

My daughter echoes these same attributes with her sorority experience. As an advisor I have witnessed sorority members study together, suggest internship and job ideas to each other, solve problems among each other, etc.

I question what "adding value" to the University means. Giving students a choice of a group to join and enriching their college experience isn't enough?

I understand there are problems with breaking rules and even laws. I am certain these infractions do not rest solely among the Greeks.

There were TWO Chi Betas honored at the alumni dinner February 6th. One spoke of how much her sorority experience enriched her life at Trinity.

I see Trinity alumni from sororities and fraternities helping students from their respective clubs search for jobs. I am sure this happens among non-Greeks, too. But without a common denominator, it can't be as organized and as strong as it is among the Greek alumni groups.

It is nice to read a semi-positive quasi endorsement of the value of Greek life from a member of Trinity Administration. I am grateful for the hard work among the school's staff to educate the students about the dangers of hazing.

Perhaps it is time to consider the value of these clubs for the students who choose them. Sororities and fraternities are not for everyone. But for some it has lasting rewards.

Jeanne said...

As to the 80-year-old neighbor who has to sleep in his garage -
I am certain it would break a zillion rules, regulations and even laws, but I'd probably have to find a way for the cell phone numbers of the parents of the student neighbors to accidently end up in his mail box.

And - could it ever be that a group of non-Greek students share a house and have a party?

I can't imagine what it must be like for you, Dean T, to receive calls from the garage in the wee hours of the morning. I know there are many other stories like this, and worse, involving Greeks. Let's hope that from the work of Josh Beebe they are on a different track most of the time. He seems to be connecting well with the kids.

David Tuttle said...

I appreciate the diversity of these comments as they reflect some of the ambivalent feelings I have on the topic. I have heard of more than one student this year who is thinking of leaving because her legs were kicked out from under her when she didn't receive a bid. On the other hand, we don't hire all RA candidates, students get cut from soccer, others don't get parts in plays, etc. Nothing seems to hit quite as personally though as not getting into a social club.

tigerpaw1452 said...

Good comments, Dean Tuttle. Thanks.
What you're saying is why I always go back to church organizations; they are not "exclusive", but accept everyone without votes or discrimination. Any idea why there is not a Baptist Student Union, or Wesley Foundation, or Catholic Student Center, etc. on campus? Seems the only religious organizations on campus are for those in a specific ethnic group.

klop56 said...

There is an Episcopal Canterbury Club - no specific ethnicity

Patrick Nuttall said...

tigerpaw1453, I would disagree that religious organizations accept people without "votes or discrimination." As an openly gay person, this certainly has not been the case for me.