Push to suspend Greek-life at RPI has many people furious

June 19, 2018 07:23 PM

TROY - There could be an end to Greek life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, at least temporarily. This news came a day after a task force was created to address the issue.

According to a letter dated June 9, RPI Greek life rush and recruitment for the 2018 fall semester will be suspended and alcohol banned from any of their events.

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The news has many in the RPI community furious and even some alumni threatening to withhold donations if the school makes good on the suspension.

RPI President Shirley Jackson announced the creation of a Greek Life Task Force in an email dated June 8, citing recent events of alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct and hazing. Vice-president of student life, Le Norman Strong, would investigate to "enact a comprehensive culture change."

"Just speaking from my own organization, hazing just doesn't exist for us," noted Jake Miner, Acacia president.

The RPI engineering student defended his fraternity after Strong decided to pause rush, recruitment and intake efforts at all 29 fraternities and five sororities for the fall semester of 2018.

"If anything, they should look at it by a case by case basis and basically have a running tally per house," suggested Miner.

After reviewing RPI crime statistics for 2014-2016, alcohol and drug-related referrals and arrests have fallen or remained the same -- even with increased enrollment of students.

The news of the halt was made public in an alumni Inter-Greek Council letter. It flooded several RPI affiliated Facebook pages and Reddit forums and a petition was quickly formed garnering more than 1,500 signatures.

"As a community, we are not going down quietly," declared Miner.

There's been no official announcement from the school's administration, but The Interfraternity Council responded saying the "potential sanctions are too stringent."

In the meantime, rumors among the RPI community swirl online that the real reason behind the push to eliminate Greek life could be to acquire the buildings for student housing and get more direct donations from alumni.

"Alumni that have been fed up over the past – at this point – almost 20 years of the Jackson administration. They've stopped donating directly to the school and are instead donating directly to the organizations," said Miner.

I emailed the school to find out if the announcement was true. If so, would all Greek life be affected, and I also asked for RPI's 2017 crime statistics.

I could not call anyone at RPI because the school no longer handles media calls. I have not heard back. 

I'm told by other students not affiliated with Greek life that this isn't the first time the school has tried to get rid of the organizations. It's happened before in 2006 and 2009.


Karen Tararache

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