What We Heard
As indicated earlier, more than 650 students, alumni and other members of the University community offered comments through the task force website. Another two dozen alumni e-mailed directly to the task force. There were more than 20 structured conversations about the work of the task force, and countless informal conversations — all of which indicated broad interest in what we had been asked to do.
While it is clear that students and alumni have divergent perspectives on the nature of the club experience and about the relationships between the clubs and the University, the similarities in what we heard were much more striking than the differences. To put it most simply, even those who expressed the greatest concerns or disappointments about the clubs recognized their benefits and strengths, and even the strongest proponents of the clubs recognized their shortcomings. Even more striking was the convergence on the issues on which the task force was encouraged to focus, a convergence that shaped our deliberations and the nature of this report. We also were reminded repeatedly that there are significant differences among the clubs; as one person said, the clubs have 10 different “social, financial and operational situations.” In many cases this constrains our ability to think of the clubs “monolithically” or as a “system.”
For the remainder of this section, we want to give some flavor of what we heard from those who commented on our website. But first let us list the eight topics that we were encouraged again and again to focus on in our report:
- Alcohol and safety
- Financial aid and cost (and by extension, the socioeconomic stratification of the clubs)
- Fraternities and sororities
- Issues related to exclusivity, inclusiveness and diversity
- Communications and representations about the clubs
- Club engagement in academic life and community service
- Relationships between the University and the clubs.
Excerpts of Comments Submitted through the Website
The first excerpt is from an alumnus who did not give his class. The others are from alumni/ae and students whose classes are indicated.