On Feb. 25, members of the Division of Student Life joined students, alumni, faculty, and staff to discuss updates to the “New Directions New Opportunities” strategies developed to enhance the role of Greek life as a critical element to the undergraduate experience. The primary goal is to elevate Greek life to the forefront of student life by building a Greek system that serves as a national model of excellence, noted Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life.
Beginning in spring 2006, Rensselaer administration, undergraduate members, and alumni began to review a set of strategies, viewed as a means to restore the Greek life community to its founding values of brotherhood and sisterhood. The outcome of this process was a stronger link between Greek life and Rensselaer’s undergraduate plan, an improved vision for new member recruitment (rush) and new member education process (pledging), and a revised Rensselaer Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy aligned to Greek life.
The plan also addresses the consequences for non-compliance that include a minimum two-semester suspension of chapter recognition and function, and an additional stipulation of a ban on alcohol and a live-in house director when the chapter is again recognized following the suspension period.
Other significant outcomes of this effort included the implementation of a Rensselaer Good Samaritan Policy, a Fraternity and Sorority Social Management Manual, and a process for Reinstatement to Full Recognition of a Fraternity and Sorority. Lastly, it was also determined that it is neither feasible nor cost efficient to mandate a live-in house director for on or off campus chapter houses, as originally proposed.
“It is well known that involvement on campus is the foundation that ties students to the rest of their classmates,” says Knowles. “The structure of Greek life at Rensselaer provides students with an outlet to complement and augment their academic experience while developing leadership skills, a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, and perhaps, most important, memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Fraternities and sororities play an integral role in campus life at Rensselaer. Rensselaer is home to 37 fraternities and sororities, with more than 1,600 members. In fact, Greeks have an exceptionally long history, with the first fraternities being established soon after the founding of the Institute in 1824 and several Alpha chapters still in residence today.
In keeping with the goals of The Rensselaer Plan, specifically noting retention and graduate rates, members of fraternities and sororities have higher retention and graduation rates than non-Greeks, and they also exceed the Institute rate. Factors that contribute to this effort include participation in leadership, philanthropy, community service activities, independent living opportunities, and strong connections with alumni.
“New Directions New Opportunities” is an outcome of 14 months of work in collaboration with undergraduate fraternity and sorority chapter members, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council leadership, the Alumni Inter-Greek Council, the dean of students, assistant dean of students, Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs, a project manager representing the Rensselaer Alumni Association, the Student Health Center, and a few national/international directors, according to Knowles.
“We are about educating technological leaders of tomorrow,” Knowles added. “Along with that, our overall goal is to improve the quality of student life at Rensselaer. Greek life has a long history at Rensselaer. It is a dynamic entity that is always evolving and striving for excellence. These initiatives serve as a significant investment into supporting a continuing robust and productive tradition of Greek life at Rensselaer.”
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