This week the Slippery Rock Student Government Association made a change about funding and greek organizations on campus. At their formal meeting this past Tuesday, SGA voted to fund greek organizations and hold them to the same standards as every other student organization.
I want to start this off with prefacing a few things: I did not attend the SGA formal meeting this past Tuesday, I have never been involved, in any capacity, with Greek Life and I am familiar with only a handful of my peers who are active in greek life.
This change seemed odd to me, as I do not really understand the reasons or justification for this. By my knowledge, I did not think that any of the greek life organizations were in any sort of financial trouble where they would need to start relying on SGA for money. If this were the case, I could understand why this would need to happen but that does not seem to be the case, so I do not see the reasoning behind this. From what I have heard from people that were in attendance, there was very little talk prior to voting on this issue again with no concrete reason given.
Another problem I see with this is that SGA says they will hold greek organizations to the same standards as every other club, but greek organizations, almost by definition, do not do that. There are a few lines in SGA’s financial policy that I could see as being potential problems.
Article I. “Purpose and Definitions”, Section A: Purpose states, “As a general policy, all funds are to be used for the benefit and interests of the entire student body.” I think a strong argument could be made that greek organizations do not benefit the entire student body. Greek life certainly adds to the college atmosphere on campus, but I think saying that they benefit the entire student body would be a stretch. You could argue that something like the ultimate frisbee club does not directly benefit all students, but with greek organizations requiring a bid to join, effectively meaning that one has to be invited to join. This kind of restriction makes it hard to say that they are beneficial to the whole student body.
I think there is also a discrepancy as to whether or not each individual fraternity and sorority will now be recognized as an individual club or not. In Article III. “Eligibility for Funding in the SGA financial policies” it states, “To be eligible for funding, an organization must adhere to the following: Official recognition by SRSGA and be active status with the Office for Student Engagement an Leadership.” It is my understanding that, right now, fraternities and sororities are not individual recognized by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, rather they all fall under one “Fraternity and Sorority Life” umbrella.
Also under Article III it says organizations that receive funding must be “Open to all students who pay the SAF (student activities fee).” Then in Article IV, “Restrictions and Penalties”, Section A: Organization Restrictions it says that student activity fees will not be used for “Any Organization that discriminates based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, religion, race, disability and/or veteran status.” Fraternities and sororities are obviously restrictive based on gender; men must join fraternities and women sororities, so I do not see how they are allowed to get around this provision. They are protected from claims of discrimination based on gender by Title Nine, so I guess we are to assume that it extends to this as well. This is one of those things that I wish SGA would have explained in making the decision.
At the end of the day, I do not necessarily oppose this change, I am just confused by it. I think SGA needs to come out and fully explain all the aspects of this as well as the reasoning behind the change. With the recent change to the no-cap budgeting system and now this change to allow greek life to have SGA budgets, as well as the number of people on SGA that are involved with greek life this could all be perceived in a bad way. Every year SGA talks about being transparent with the student body about their decisions and this is a perfect opportunity to practice what they preach.