Letter to the Editor: Dean of the College responds to diversity concerns of Greek life

By Margaret Hazlett || Dean of the College

To the Editors of The College Reporter:

As most of us on campus know, the Franklin & Marshall community currently is engaged in many serious, thoughtful discussions about how to become a more diverse, inclusive, and respectful campus. There have been a significant number of positive and substantive conversations around these topics in recent weeks, among them two open meetings in Brooks and Ware College Houses, as well as an additional gathering and “difficult conversations” exchange in Brooks. Earlier this month in Ware, Professor of Sociology Katherine McClelland also updated her long-running study of racial attitudes at F&M and helped moderate a constructive discussion among students, faculty, and professional staff that followed.

At several of these meetings, questions have been raised and comments made about the College’s ongoing efforts to encourage greater diversity within our many fraternity and sorority chapters — important work that everyone involved in promoting the social well-being of the entire F&M community takes seriously.  We should recognize and appreciate that some of our fraternities and sororities have become more inclusive, a positive trend that we hope and expect to continue for all of our Greek chapters. More can be done, and I applaud fraternity member Douglas Benton for his recent College Reporter article where he encourages his fellow Greek members to work collaboratively with a broad and diverse group of student organizations across campus, which also points out the value of creating social spaces for all students.

At the same time, it is important, too, to emphasize that the College continues to be open to student interest in establishing a historically black fraternity or sorority, which Chan Tov has called for in his recent article in The College Reporter. Although recent steps to establish such a chapter, including exploration of a possible partnership with nearby Millersville University to create a joint organization, have been complicated by one national black fraternity’s self-imposed “moratorium” on further expansion at this time, F&M remains ready to assist students and other historically black fraternities and sororities to organize here at such time as they are prepared to set up new colonies.

Franklin & Marshall is eager to help our many fraternities and sororities become still more inclusive and steadfast in its commitment to addressing discrimination in all student organizations, including fraternities and sororities. That is why we have created, through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, our new Diversity Change Agents (DCAs) program, and we are working now to schedule the first meetings between DCAs and representative fraternity and sorority groups later this spring to continue the process of developing more diverse social programming across campus.

Meanwhile, my door is always open to work with students on these and other issues of diversity and inclusion. Working together, we can achieve our shared goal of making Franklin & Marshall a more welcoming and respectful environment for all students on campus.

 

Margaret Hazlett is the Dean of the College. Her email is mhazlett@fandm.

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