Q: What social fraternal organizations are currently on campus?
A: Lawrence is home to five fraternities (Beta Theta Pi, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Tau, and Sigma Phi Epsilon) and three sororities (Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma). The fraternities are governed by the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the sororities are governed by the Panhellenic Council. In addition to these organizations, Lawrence has a number of Greek-letter honor, music, and service societies.
Q: What percentage of current Lawrence students belong to fraternities and sororities?
A: When the Task Force wrote the Interim Report, statistics indicated that 35% of male students belonged to a social fraternity and 18% of female students belonged to a sorority. Formal recruitment ("rush") for Greek groups has just been completed and actual numbers indicate that currently 32% of men and 15% of women are members of Greek social groups.
Q: Does the Trustees' equity statement mean that fraternities and fraternity houses will be a thing of the past?
A: No. Although the Trustees have endorsed the working principle that no student group or organization should have a permanent claim to occupancy in any unit of college-owned housing, their addendum to the Task Force's charge does not preclude the continued existence of fraternity housing. Indeed, in its interim report the Task Force stated that "small group living units such as the co-op house, theme houses and fraternities have the potential to facilitate the kind of interaction that 'strengthen(s) the intellectual and social environment of the college' and 'support(s) the establishment of meaningful relationships and long-lasting friendships.'" In responding to its charge to develop clear and equitable rules for the allocation of housing, the Task Force intends to develop a proposal that will include the possibility of group housing for fraternities. Overall, the Task Force has stated that its goal is to extend "more broadly the opportunity for students to experience the benefits and rewards of small group living."
Q: Does the Trustees' equity statement mean that sorority housing will be instituted?
A: The Trustees' statement does not preclude the possibility of sorority housing. In its interim report, the Task Force strongly endorsed the principle of small group living and established a goal of "extending more broadly the opportunity for students to experience the benefits and rewards of small group living."
Q: If the fraternities need to give up their houses, will they be allowed to purchase off-campus houses independently of the university?
A: As part of its ongoing work, the Task Force is currently examining the policies governing off-campus living. If the Task Force were to recommend any changes to those policies, the proposed changes would be expected to advance the principles of residential life endorsed by the Trustees.
Q: Do the fraternities own their houses or the property on which they sit?
A: No. The quad buildings are wholly owned by Lawrence. Individual chapters furnish the living rooms and lounges in the houses and provide all equipment, appliances and supplies in the kitchens (excepting the range hood and other fixtures). Lawrence pays for all maintenance, repairs and upkeep of the structures and grounds; provides furniture and furnishings for individual rooms; upgrades permanent fixtures in the kitchen; and provides utilities along with custodial, cleaning and security services.
Q: What is the history behind the allocation of the Quad to the fraternities?
A: Before 1941, Lawrence fraternity members had lived off-campus in private houses. President Henry Merritt Wriston (1925-37) believed, however, that the college would better fulfill the residential aspects of its mission if arrangements were made to accommodate fraternity members on campus. During the course of the 1930's, negotiations ensued between the college and the fraternities regarding the relinquishment of the private fraternity houses in exchange for occupancy privileges in five new buildings. Plans were devised and financing was arranged: of the total cost of approximately $285,000, $85,000 was contributed by donors; $55,000 was covered by the value of the surrendered fraternity houses; and $145,000 was borrowed from the endowment or represented deficit spending. By 1941 the quadrangle had been built, fraternity members had moved on campus and written agreements to memorialize the arrangement had been executed and delivered by the parties. Approximately 20 years later an additional house was added to the Quad to accommodate the Phi Gamma Delta chapter. When the Fijis de-colonized, the building was added to general housing inventory and later became Draheim House.
Q: Do written agreements exist between the university and the fraternities?
A: Yes. The documents between the fraternities and the University consist of individual financial arrangements involving perpetually awarded annual scholarships paid to members of the fraternity chapters and a policy regarding assignment of rooms in the Quad. The University views these documents as private agreements between the relevant parties and believes that the specific details of each document should be disclosed at the discretion of the fraternities. The University, as party to these agreements, has authorized the fraternities to disclose the terms of their agreements.
Q: Was the Task Force on Residential Life really formed to disband Greek organizations?
A: No. In fact, the Trustees have endorsed the principle that "Lawrence students may freely associate and form student groups and organizations of their own choosing (including Greek-letter social organizations)."
Q: Why was the Task Force created?
A: In forming the Task Force in October 1998, the Trustees issued a charge that called for a "comprehensive examination of the college's residential life system." Rather than respond narrowly to recently expressed student interest regarding sorority housing, the Board of Trustees decided to have a task force "undertake a longer and larger look at campus and residential life and to make suggestions to the trustees about future directions and priorities." The Trustees outlined three principal motivations for forming the Task Force: (a) that it is important to periodically reexamine and reevaluate the residential nature of our campus; (b) that there are moral reasons that prompt the college to be sure it is fair and equitable in its treatment of all students; and (c) that the pressing issues of recruitment and retention of college students make it essential that the College do all it can to improve the quality of residential life.
Q: What concrete work has the Task Force done to date?
A: The Task Force has accomplished a great deal in the last year. After much time and care was taken to select the membership of the Task Force to ensure representation from students, alumni, faculty and staff, the group worked to refine the Trustees' charge and define the scope of its work. The Task Force divided into working subcommittees to study housing, food services, and campus life. In addition, a fourth group studied the underlying principles on which the college's residential philosophy is based and drafted the statement of principles endorsed by the Board of Trustees. The Task Force gathered and studied information from past reports at Lawrence as well as from other institutions. In addition, site visits to a number of other colleges were conducted. Task Force members met with staff and students, and tours of residential and dining facilities were conducted. Surveys were developed and administered to students, faculty, and staff on campus. After a lengthy process involving extensive discussions and many hours of work, the Interim Report was drafted and revised prior to submission to the Board of Trustees at their January 2000 meeting.
Q: What has Lawrence done to ensure "open communication" regarding the Task Force's work?
A: At the very beginning, copies of the Trustees' charge to the community were mailed to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni so that all Lawrentians had accurate information about the Board's intentions regarding the formation of the Task Force. LUCC (in consultation with IFC and Panhel) selected student Task Force members, and the L.U. Alumni Board of Directors suggested alumni participants. The Board of Trustees appointed Jeff Riester ('70) to be trustee liaison to the Task Force, and Jeff has provided updates to LUCC, Lawrence Today, the Lawrentian and the Lawrence web site. Written student opinion surveys, faculty surveys and staff surveys were distributed on campus during Term I and, although the results are still being analyzed, the response rate was very high. Following the student surveys, two student listening sessions were held on campus. In addition, an alumni listening session was held in the Twin Cities during December 1999. Additional alumni listening sessions are scheduled for March in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and the Fox Cities area. The Lawrence home page has printed updates on the progress of the Task Force's work, and the page is linked so that anyone can offer comments, suggestions, or observations to either Michael Orr or Nancy Truesdell, Task Force co-chairs.
Q: What is the timeline for future work of the Task Force? How will the final recommendations be communicated to the L.U. community?
A: The Task Force intends to develop recommendations over the next few months with continued opportunities for feedback from the community. The final report is to be submitted to the Trustees at their October 2000 meeting, and (as with the Interim Report) the Trustees will determine how they wish to inform the community of any action they take.