In response to the University’s moratorium on all social events in Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) fraternity houses last week, which was lifted after the administration and the IFC created an “implementation plan” to ensure safety at future parties, many students have expressed concern over the administration’s perceived lack of transparency and over the decision to act without consulting students. Additional points of contention include the moratorium’s limitation to just IFC fraternities and its extension to fraternities with clean disciplinary records.
The moratorium has changed the Hopkins social scene by redirecting students to social events at non-Greek organizations as well as to downtown Baltimore.
The administration enacted the moratorium after a Nov. 3 vote by the IFC to ban open house parties for the rest of the semester in response to the reported sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl inside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity house on Nov. 2. Although The News-Letter first reported the moratorium on Friday, the administration did not publicly announce their decision until they sent a JHBroadcast email to the student body on Monday.
Both Dean of Student Life Terry Martinez and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin G. Shollenberger previously dealt with controversial Greek life issues during their overlapping tenures at Columbia University.
The Student Government Association (SGA) was not consulted about either decision and has issued a formal statement objecting to their uninvolvement.
At Tuesday’s IFC meeting, fraternities proposed a plan for implementing their previous ban on open events in an effort to satisfy administrators’ concerns and lift the moratorium.
The IFC’s Ban and the University’s Moratorium
The moratorium, which was lifted Nov. 14, banned all 12 IFC fraternities from hosting any social events in fraternity houses, a term that the University has not concretely defined. None of these fraternity houses are owned by the University.
This order, issued by Hopkins administrators, superseded the IFC’s Nov. 3 vote to ban open house parties for the rest of the semester. Under this unanimous vote — which was taken by the IFC member fraternities themselves — fraternities would have been able to proceed as planned with closed events held in their houses. Such events include mixers, in which members of one sorority and one fraternity have a party together exclusively, as well as date parties and formals, in which each fraternity member is able to invite a guest. Events that fraternities hold at outside venues have not been banned.
The University’s moratorium order was seen by the IFC to be a reversal from administrators’ previous acceptance of the fraternities’ ban on open parties as acceptable.
“The IFC was willing to say no fraternities will have open events, and then at the last minute, the administration kind of reversed course… [Martinez] initially agreed to the policy that the IFC made, and then the administration changed its mind,” IFC President Tom Laughlin said.
Martinez, while having praised fraternities’ “commitment to taking ownership of strategies at a very important time for our community,” has denied ever having agreed to the IFC ban as sufficient.
“They created that plan, and I took it back [to the other administrators], and the questions were about how are we going to implement that. It isn't a reversal — it's about having a fuller conversation to realize it,” Martinez said.
University President Ronald J. Daniels said that he believes fraternities are not yet ready to resume hosting any house parties, and he thought that the IFC’s vote to ban open parties for the rest of the semester was a strong first step.
“They came up with a wonderful proposal for us to think about how we can make our parties safer on campus,” Daniels said. “What we’re focused on is essentially making sure that we can put in place the implementation plan that the IFC offered us last week.”
Martinez agreed that the moratorium should not be interpreted as a full stop on parties until further notice, but rather as a break to ensure safety. She emphasized that she hopes the moratorium will be temporary.
“We didn't ban parties,” Martinez said. “What we've asked is just to put a pause for this past weekend until we get an implementation plan in place.”
Shollenberger said that although students may see the moratorium as an attempt to halt student social life, the administration decided that fraternities needed to reflect on their current risk management policies. He hopes to work directly with IFC members to ensure that they take action as soon as possible.
“We really kind of freed our calendar to work with them to make that happen,” Shollenberger said. “Our goal was not to shut down social life on campus but to say, 'Look, we need to pause for a second. There are some real safety and security concerns, and we all need to take responsibility and ownership — both students and administration — and let's work together to get that done in a timely fashion.’”
Despite these intentions, many students interpreted the moratorium as an attack on student social life and on Greek organizations. A flyer anonymously distributed around campus on Monday stated that “the attack on the Greek system as a whole for the actions of a few individuals in unjust” and that “strangling student life at Hopkins with strict policies is ineffective and counterproductive to the university’s efforts to improve student life.”
The Administration has come under fire for banning all IFC fraternities’ social events, despite some fraternities having clean disciplinary records.
Gideon Gross, a sophomore member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity (AEPi), said he agreed with the IFC's ban on open parties, but he thought that placing a moratorium on all IFC fraternity events in response to an incident, which was reported to have been committed by non-affiliates, at one fraternity house was unfair.
“How am I, as a member of Greek life, supposed to respond to individuals that say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re banning you because there was this assault at another fraternity at which neither the people were involved in Greek life nor were affiliated with the University,’ and we have to bear the responsibility,” Gross said.
Gross also protested the stigmatization that he argues the University’s decision augments.
“I’m not defending the attackers,” Gross said. “I think what they did was [reprehensible]… but it makes Greek life as a whole seem like we’re perpetrators.” Gross noted that this seems particularly unfair given the preliminary reports on the alleged assailants’ statuses as non-affiliates.
Many students also objected to the University’s decision to just ban IFC fraternities from having social events when there are plenty of other entities throwing similar, less-regulated parties.
“The frats aren’t necessarily the only source of [drinking], and to ban the frats is very much the school removing its most official outlet for it,” Gross said.
Guilherme Hubner, a sophomore AEPi member, concurred.
“Parties that were once held with Greek organizations affiliated with the campus are now being thrown by student houses or often sports-affiliated houses in which people are running these parties have had no risk management training.”
Although IFC fraternities host many of the parties that students attend on weekends, non-Greek organizations — including sports teams and St. Elmo Hall (Elmo’s), a fraternity that is affiliated with a national organization but is not recognized by the IFC — also host open parties.
University administrators have justified their decision by arguing that IFC fraternity houses are where they’ve seen student misconduct occur, and they have thus held all IFC fraternities to this temporary ban.
“That's where this incident was. A young woman was raped. That's where situations happened in the past,” Martinez said. “[The IFC] is an organization that represents the community, and it's the community where we've had our concerns.”
“There's actually been a pattern of concerning behaviors specifically in fraternity houses — civil behavior, violence — there have been other allegations in the past of sexual assault,” Shollenberger added. "I get concerned when there are large numbers of students who are coming together where alcohol is served, and that tends to be — at least the [parties] that we're being made aware of — that tends to happen more in the fraternity houses.”
This is why, Martinez and Shollenberger stated, the ban does not extend to sports houses or Elmo’s.
Martinez and Shollenberger emphasized that this moratorium was not intended to be punitive, but rather as a pause that would allow for safer practices to be implemented.
Carlene Partow, the president of the Hopkins Feminists, said that fraternity parties can be difficult to control — particularly when the parties take place in dark basements.
“It puts a lot of pressure on the fraternities to make sure that all the people at their parties are safe because it is hard to keep track of everyone,” Partow said.
Attendance at parties thrown by non-Greek organizations has increased in the absence of fraternity parties.
“I figured out places to go last weekend,” freshman Omar Khatib said. “Elmo’s was an option. The other nights that I didn’t go there, it was a massive struggle finding something to do. And even when you did find something, it wasn’t of the quality you wanted it to be. Everyone was flooding there since there was nothing else to do. It definitely changes the game completely.”
Varsity baseball team captains Jake Enterlin and Justin Drechsel addressed how the moratorium has affected parties at the baseball team’s houses.
“There were definitely more people I didn’t recognize who showed up that I wasn’t expecting,” Enterlin said.
“I’m sure people are going to look to sports houses to fill the void since they aren’t under this IFC control,” Drechsel said. “Then again, I don’t know how much the administration can control [our houses]. I’m assuming since we’re students they will have some control since they don’t want us reflecting poorly on the school.”
He did not see the moratorium as an effective solution to the general problem of sexual assault on campus.
“If they really want to stop this, they should think of some other ways for students to interact socially and unwind from the academic stress that doesn’t involve parties,” Drechsel said. “Unless you join a specific club, or you have a sorority or fraternity, or you are a member of a sports team, you can’t really build a connection as easily. I think that’s why the average student looks to the fraternities and sports teams to have these events where they can meet people.”
Drechsel said that the baseball team will proceed cautiously with regard to throwing parties.
“I don’t think [our number of parties] is going to increase, because nobody wants what’s happened to fraternities and to have restrictions placed upon us,” he said.
Junior Zach White of the Hopkins Rugby Football Club had a different attitude toward his house’s parties.
“Speaking for the team, the ban gives us the opportunity to have bigger events because fraternities can’t have events, so people will naturally come to our events instead. But that also increases the responsibility that we must take on,” White said.
White is one of several members of the rugby team who are also brothers of the Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi) fraternity. According to White, the IFC’s actions against Phi Psi have no bearing on the rugby team or its house.
“We have pretty strong feelings about separation of your fraternity obligations and your rugby obligations,” White said.
Alternatively, several students headed to downtown Baltimore this past weekend.
“I’ve only been downtown a couple of times, but I know a lot of people who went downtown to the movies in the Inner Harbor this weekend,” freshman Joby Tsai said.
Many students, however, do not see a trip downtown as a viable option for every weekend.
“I’ve been downtown a couple of times. It’s a lot of effort, and you don’t really want to spend the money unless you decide to go in advance. It’s not the kind of thing you decide at the last second,” Khatib said. “Going downtown occasionally is a good thing, but to have it be something you do every weekend is just not feasible.”
Several students have expressed concerns that by forcing students to go downtown to find social events, the University was making nightlife more dangerous for students rather than safer. Martinez argued that safety depends on individual students’ outlooks, rather than their locations.
“If someone goes downtown to hang out and have a couple of drinks, and they choose to do that in a safe and responsible way, and they choose to do that here on campus, and they party and do that in a safe and responsible way, I don't think it makes a difference — it's just a different scene. And that's not what we're really concerned about; we're concerned with the binge drinking and then all of the dangerous behaviors that happen as a result of that, so wherever that happens, the concern is the same,” Martinez said.
Shollenberger cited a national movement to reform Greek life as an additional motivation for initiating changes on campus with the IFC.
“Nationally, I think there are lots of discussions around fraternity and sorority life and issues of alcohol abuse, hazing [and] sexual assault,” Shollenberger said. “Certainly it's not limited to just Greek organizations, but I think it's something that we need to look at seriously.”
In its statement, the SGA asserted that by only placing a moratorium on events hosted by IFC fraternities, the administration has misguidedly gone after Greek life rather than addressed the pervasive issue of sexual assault.
“The occurrence of sexual assault in any environment, under any condition, is devastating and an issue that warrants thorough discussion amongst all members of the community,” the statement reads. “The SGA recognizes that the recent rulings by administrators were attempts to address the longstanding problem of sexual assault on campus. However, these measures unintentionally redirected the focus from sexual assault to Fraternity and Sorority Life.”
Sexual Assault at Hopkins
The University is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for its response to alleged incidents of sexual assault and a possible violation of the Clery Act.
One of the individuals who submitted the complaint that prompted the investigation agreed to anonymously share several thoughts on the current situation and the progress that the administration has made in its handling of sexual assault cases.
The complainant argued that while a good step, the University’s moratorium was probably more of a public relations stunt than a bold move to curtail sexual assault.
“As an interim measure, the moratorium on fraternity events was, on many levels, an appropriate course of action… but it strikes me more as a media stunt from the University, which has done little else to curb campus rape,” the complainant wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Martinez rejected the characterization of the University’s response as a PR stunt.
“I disagree with that because I think that students — in particular, those members of fraternities — are really taking a look at their environment and what they can and cannot control. That really does prevent future situations like this. It puts responsibility and ownership into students' hands, and we have an obligation to step in when we see situations that are just not safe,” Martinez said.
The complainant was dismayed by the fact that some of the administrators that have been accused of dissuading students from pressing charges against alleged rapists, as noted in an article published by The Huffington Post in May, are still working at Hopkins. The complainant also does not believe that the University has disciplined or expelled many rapists.
“Why has the University not dealt with these administrators or removed rapists from our campus?” the complainant wrote. “A moratorium on fraternity events does not remove the rapists, but it allows the University to operate under a pretense that it is dealing with its rape problem. The University needs to start by addressing individual assailants and proving that it appropriately handles sexual assault cases.”
Martinez and Shollenberger refused to answer how many students have been disciplined for sexual misconduct this year, citing student privacy concerns.
The complainant feels that student conversation about the moratorium has focused too much on not having parties rather than on how to prevent sexual assault.
“I’m concerned that the conversation about the moratorium has placed blame on survivors rather than the rapists,” the complainant wrote. “Rapists are the reason the ban has been imposed. It is vitally important that survivors are made to feel comfortable speaking out and reporting their rapes, if they choose… People seem to have ignored that rape is the problem and are just pissed off that their right to party has been infringed upon. Survivors might feel less comfortable speaking out, or even guilty.”
Hubner said that he and his friends in Greek life are concerned about sexual assault at Hopkins.
“You can tell that by the involvement of Greek life members in all the new movements and videos that are being made about the issue,” Hubner said. “My problem with the party ban is that it is targeting Greek life, as if Greek life was the main problem and what causes sexual assault. The school should partner up in a collaborative manner with Greek life to face this issue as opposed to shutting down activities without consulting SGA and IFC.”
Olga Baranoff, a junior who is not affiliated with a Greek organization, said that not only was the administration’s decision heavy-handed, but that it also has created a fixation on Greek life that overshadows the attention given to the alleged attack that occurred at the SAE house on Nov. 2.
“I’d rather see heightened awareness of sexual assault and acknowledgement that a 16-year-old got raped than the fact that people are pissed that they can’t have parties for three more weekends of the semester,” Baranoff said.
Shollenberger said that the cultural norms surrounding sexual assault need to change and that this is not an issue unique to Hopkins.
“Many universities, including Hopkins, are really wrestling with how [to] change the culture of the institution, specifically around sexual assault and sexual violence,” Shollenberger said. “As a university, we're always reflecting on what more we can do. I think we all feel that we can do a lot more.”
Martinez also talked about the difficulty of acknowledging how alcohol and sexual assault can be related without victim-blaming and excusing rapists’ actions.
“In no way would we ever want to blame the student for being sexually assaulted, so how do we have a conversation about alcohol without doing that?” Martinez said. “That's a hard conversation to have because it can feel like blaming the victim, and that's not at all what we intend.”
The anonymous complainant also emphasized that sexual assault is an issue independent from alcohol use and abuse.
“Rape can happen anywhere: with or without alcohol, in an open or private setting, between strangers or intimate partners,” the complainant wrote.
Some students view bystander intervention training (BIT) as an option to ameliorate the culture of sexual assault that has been associated with the IFC fraternities.
Starting this school year, all varsity sports teams have been required to participate in the BIT program, and all Panhellenic sorority members will be required to attend a training in the next week; however, BIT participation is not yet widespread among fraternities. Members of sports teams have lauded BIT as an effective tool to keep their parties under control.
“If more people took that class, it would help with the sexual assault issues,” Enterlin said.
Partow agreed that BIT serves as a crucial step towards decreasing the number of sexual assaults at Hopkins.
“[Hopkins Feminists] are always proponents of policies like bystander training that support victims and facilitate better education on campus about how to combat rape culture and improve the way victims are supported after sexual assault,” Partow said.
Major George Kibler, who is in charge of Hopkins Campus Safety and Security operations, wrote in an email to The News-Letter that the safety of student parties is not dependent upon who the hosts are.
“Any place — fraternity or not — that attracts a large crowd into confined spaces without adequate safety management can become a risk for anyone present,” Kibler wrote.
Daniels said that he believes that the fraternity parties themselves are partially to blame for creating unsafe situations and that more concrete expectations of safety protocols for these parties must be enacted before fraternities can continue holding events.
“I think what we see right now is that, particularly in light of the allegations around the sexual assault that took place a week or so ago, that there’s at least a contributing role that the parties that are being hosted by the fraternities are having on creating risk for our campus community,” Daniels said. “It’s important that we put in place a set of understandings about how those parties will be operating, and to think through the safety of our students in that context.”
Many students disagree with the notion that temporarily banning fraternity parties is the best way to improve safety on campus.
“It’s just furthering Hopkins’s reputation as a no-fun school, and people are going to want to drink anyway,” Agni Bhattacharya, a sophomore Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) member, said. “It’s just driving it underground in that way, and it’s not the correct way to deal with it at all.”
Shollenberger said that the administration thinks it is important for all of the IFC fraternities to work collaboratively to address safety issues at their parties and to prevent rape and other sexual misconduct from happening at Hopkins. He commended the IFC’s original vote, which included a mandate to have more sober fraternity members present at each party to monitor for dangerous behavior.
“I do think it is a collective responsibility,” Shollenberger said. “Several [fraternities] already have sober brother programs, and so part of their recommendation is that it would be implemented across [all] the fraternities. We need to make sure that it's consistent and that people have training in place so that they can be successful in those programs.”
SGA is pursuing a partnership with the Panhellenic Council to combat safety issues surrounding sexual assault on campus. Panhellenic President and Alpha Phi member Maia Nieto attended the SGA meeting in order to offer her perspective on the University’s handling of the issue.
"We started drafting a statement last Monday, and we need to get it approved by every sorority's president. I don't have it completely approved. It's changing because of all the things going on,” Nieto said. “I found out on Thursday just like you all did that all [fraternity] social events were cancelled. We didn't get any information regarding that. We've currently come up with a series of recommendations on things we can improve regarding safety.”
Nieto also noted that Panhellenic is going to work with the IFC to craft a statement that addresses sexual assault, binge drinking and how to protect first-year students in party environments.
IX, the Administration and the Future of Greek Life
In addition to IFC fraternities, other social organizations have come under heat from Hopkins administrators.
Every member of IX, an underground women’s organization that was formed following the disbandment of the Hopkins chapter of the Kappa Alpha Theta (Theta) sorority in 2009, was called in for individual meetings with Martinez. While neither Martinez nor members of IX will disclose what transpired in those meetings, members of IX have been left shaken and feeling like University officials are looking to baselessly punish them for nothing more than their association in the secretive organization.
“I walk around campus in fear of what my future at this school will hold,” one member of IX, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said.
The member stated that IX is under investigation by the University.
Although the IX member said that Martinez did not directly instruct her to cease her association with the group or threaten her with removal from her campus leadership positions and extracurricular activities, she said that she is afraid that the administration may have plans to further discipline members of the group.
Martinez refused to discuss IX at all.
“I’m not going to discuss any issues around IX,” Martinez said, citing privacy concerns.
She also elaborated on her concerns regarding underground student organizations as a whole.
“I’m not speaking specifically about IX — I’m talking about, in general, student organizations that operate underground [and] don’t abide by the regulations and policies that are put in place for the way they function and operate,” Martinez said. “As a whole, they could be seen as more dangerous than those who are functioning and working with the institution and administrators.”
Martinez and Shollenberger confirmed that the University has not called members of Elmo’s in for questioning and does not plan to at this time.
“[Elmo’s] is not a recognized Greek organization. They are a collection of students that are gathered in the same vein. We expect to hold all students accountable for student conduct. I’m not going to discuss the judicial process,” Martinez said.
When asked if the University had any oversight over Elmo’s, Martinez responded by saying that she did not know.
“It's not a University-owned house, and they're not a recognized organization. I honestly don't — I don't have an answer to that,” Martinez said.
A member of a fraternity, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the University’s treatment of IX was deeply concerning to fraternities, fearing that Hopkins officials are punishing the members of IX in a first step toward banning all Greek life at Hopkins, in order to dissuade fraternities from going underground.
“[The investigation into IX] is concerning because it foreshadows such threats for all other Greek organizations if the administration continues to ignore the student body's wish to engage in a more productive conversation about sexual assault on campus,” he said.
The fraternity member contended that if the administration tried to ban fraternities, they would not be able to eliminate the groups or their parties — the members would simply go underground.
“A lot of the Greek organizations we have on campus were founded and thrived during a time when they were forced to keep their memberships secret in the face of the threat of expulsion,” he said. “Our Greek organizations would simply follow their traditions in pursuing membership secretly.”
The fraternity member also said that abolishing fraternities would be counterproductive to the University’s efforts to prevent sexual assault and that he is scared that the administration could take stronger action against fraternities.
“If the administration is sincerely concerned with working with fraternities to prevent sexual assault and other incidents, pushing those organizations into unregulated territory could be catastrophic,” he said.
Daniels, Provost Robert Lieberman, Shollenberger and Martinez all insisted that Hopkins Greek life is here to stay, and that banning Greek organizations has never been considered nor is it even on the table as a possibility. They explained that the University strongly believes that Greek life is a valuable asset to campus life.
“We are so far from any decision of completely banning Greek life on the campus,” Daniels said. “Given the storied role of Greek life on campus... an outright prohibition is just not… in the realm of contemplation. Our position starts off with a healthy respect for and an appreciation of the role that Greek life has played on our campus and the way in which it has contributed to the college experience at Hopkins and our sense of wanting to work closely with the leadership of the fraternities to improve the climate.”
Martinez, who organized a Greek Life Summit with fraternity and sorority leaders on Oct. 23, emphasized that working with students involved in Greek life remains one of her primary goals as Dean of Student Life.
“I think Greek life has a place on any campus because I think that it contributes to students' own development,” Martinez said. “It gives them a sense of community. I know that members of Greek life have better GPAs, especially on this campus, than students who don't. It gets people together to do good work in the community. But it also has its problems, and we're seeing the worst of it.”
Martinez continued by restating her intention to emphasize that Greek organizations were founded upon, and are based on, values.
“[Greek life] was one of the things I talked about when I first got here,” Martinez said. “Sexual assault, alcohol and Greek life. From the beginning, I went to both IFC and the Panhellenic group to talk about how we could start to take a look at these organizations as values-driven and values-based organizations as opposed to the story that’s being told now, that it’s just about social life. It goes back to what I said in the beginning — there’s so many wonderful things that are happening with respect to the leadership positions on campus, the philanthropy that they do, the service that they undertake. That story is not getting out there.”
Martinez noted that Greek life provides benefits that expand well beyond the scope of Homewood and students’ undergraduate careers.
“I think [Greek organizations] have some really valuable things to offer campuses, and I think that they are tremendous networking opportunities for students beyond their time on campus,” Martinez said. “It provides a sense of community, it gives great leadership training and it's a network for folks to think about their connections with Johns Hopkins. That was my preconceived notion, and it continues to be something that I hold true.”
Despite the moratorium, many students who previously planned to join Greek life remain intent on participating in recruitment.
Freshman William Theodorou has planned on participating in fraternity recruitment since the beginning of the year. Neither the IFC’s nor the administration’s decisions have affected his intent to become a part of the Greek community.
“I don’t really see how the IFC ban affects the reason I wanted to rush in the first place,” Theodorou said. “It takes away the benefit of spring rush, which is that the fraternity that students choose is not based on one week of activities at the fraternity, but rather a large sample size of days and a large timespan. I find that because of the amount of time you spend with the brothers, you get a genuine appreciation for who the brothers are and what the fraternity is like.”
According to Khatib, who also plans on participating in recruitment, the moratorium will make recruitment difficult for both the potential pledges and the current fraternity brothers.
“This ban makes it really hard for people now who are just getting into the idea of recruitment,” Khatib said. “A lot of people who were pretty sure coming in will not have as much of an issue because they already know a good amount of people [in the fraternities].”
Tsai plans on going through sorority recruitment in the spring. According to Tsai, freshman girls’ desire to undergo formal recruitment was virtually unaffected by the moratorium.
“The ban was only for the parties until the end of fall semester, so I was thinking everything would go back to normal next semester,” Tsai said.
“Although approached with the best interest of the student body in mind, we fundamentally oppose any decision-making process that excludes student input,” the SGA wrote in a statement emailed to the Hopkins community on Wednesday. “We are a community, and this action is a breach of our trust and respect.”
The SGA also noted their anger over the administration's decision to take action beyond the IFC’s vote, given that IFC members who were present at the meeting were under the impression that Martinez approved of their decision. Martinez responded to these concerns by emphasizing a need for the administration and the IFC to ensure that fraternities can effectively enact new policies that would improve the safety of their parties.
“They've put together a good proposal, but it's a matter of, ‘Now how do you enact it?’” Martinez said. “[We didn’t consider consulting the SGA] during the interim plan [because] they were measures that were recommended by the IFC, and so we went back to them with our concerns. As we continue to think about our policies and our broader issues, we certainly will do that. In this particular instance, it was between us and the IFC.”
Shollenberger explained that the University’s perceived lack of transparency often stems from legal considerations.
“I think where we're always in a difficult position as administrators is that we actually can’t comment on actual individual student cases, investigations, or just planning that we're taking, so students then see that as a transparency issue when it really is about protecting students' privacy,” Shollenberger said.
Prior to the release of SGA’s statement, senators at Tuesday’s meeting expressed their dissatisfaction with the University’s lack of transparency regarding its decision to impose a Greek life moratorium.
“This is a campus-wide issue that merits dialog between all students and invested administration,” freshman class Senator Sarah Zappone wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Opaque decision making processes are a breach of community trust, and we deserve a seat at the table.”
SGA’s formal condemnation of the University’s lack of transparency inspired senators to propose efforts to maintain their own organizational transparency at Tuesday’s meeting.
SGA members debated whether to close the meeting in order to privately discuss the development of this statement. Andrew Griswold, senior class senator, opposed this motion.
“We were elected to this position to have a say. If we close this meeting, we don't get to have a say [in The News-Letter]. Then, in essence, we are no better than the administration,” Griswold said.
Sam Sands, a sophomore class senator, agreed with Griswold.
“This is an issue that has been a problem and incorporates a large part of the student body and the administration. It's important that people know how we reached our decision,” Sands said.
Martinez and Shollenberger at Columbia
Before coming to Hopkins last year and this year, respectively, Shollenberger and Martinez worked closely together at Columbia University; when Shollenberger left his position as Columbia’s dean of student affairs, then-Dean of Community Development and Multicultural Affairs Martinez took over his role for the 2013-2014 academic year. Shollenberger went on to bring Martinez to Hopkins for the start of this school year.
Their time at Columbia was also fraught with controversy over Greek life. In 2010, five Columbia students were arrested for selling thousands of dollars worth of drugs, mostly out of common areas and bedrooms in the AEPi, Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) and Psi Upsilon fraternity houses and the Intercultural Resource Center (IRC), a residential building. The police investigation was commonly known as “Operation Ivy League.”
Shollenberger and the administration punished the three fraternities by taking away their brownstones, which were owned by the University. However, according to The Columbia Daily Spectator, Shollenberger was criticized for a perceived lack of transparency as well as for allegedly favoring some Greek organizations while holding a grudge against the three fraternities implicated in the drug bust.
In an article published upon the announcement of his new position at Hopkins, Shollenberger told the Spectator that he did not regret any of the decisions that he made as an administrator.
“I feel like we’ve been very transparent in the process we used,” Shollenberger said at the time. “There does seem to be a need from students to know a lot of the details around conversations that happen around the decision-making or what are the particulars about the incident, and I really believe strongly in student privacy.”
Martinez also played a significant role in Columbia’s response to “Operation Ivy League.” She was tasked with conducting a review of the three fraternities’ and the IRC’s operations over the course of four years.
Martinez and Shollenberger refused to comment on their tenures at Columbia, branding it as irrelevant and citing legal concerns.
Yet Shollenberger commented that the nature of Greek life varies between universities.
“[Columbia] actually owned the majority of the fraternity and sorority houses, where here they’re off campus,” Shollenberger said. “[At Columbia,] it’s a predominantly residential population. Here, almost all [juniors and seniors] live off campus except for RAs, so it’s just [a] very different structure,” he said.
Shollenberger also emphasized that university administrations around the country are working through different issues with Greek organizations.
“Nationally, there’s a dialogue going on around Greek life and how we hold the organizations responsible for their behaviors,” Shollenberger said. “It’s not just Hopkins or Columbia... I know a lot of university communities are wrestling with these questions.”
Neither Shollenberger nor Martinez have ever been members of a social fraternity.
What’s Changed Since PIKE
Allegations emerged in May regarding a rape at the Hopkins PIKE fraternity house. The alleged assault took place in April of 2013, when a Towson University student reported that several PIKE brothers had gang raped her, using drugs to facilitate the act. PIKE was subsequently suspended for the school year.
The University was criticized in an article in The Huffington Post for failing to notify the Hopkins community about the incident, as many contend is required under the Clery Act. In September, Daniels admitted in an email to the community that the University indeed erred by not publicly disclosing the incident and that this mistake would not happen in the future.
Members of the administration have defended Hopkins against allegations that the University’s robust response to the SAE incident was intended to protect the University’s reputation rather than the alleged victim.
“The things that we're discussing now with the IFC for the rest of the semester are completely consistent and entirely in keeping with the things that we've already been working on, in the interest again of keeping the campus and the students safe and keeping campus and University social life safe and secure for everyone,” Lieberman said.
Martinez concurred, asserting that the attitude students take toward the topic of sexual assault has changed in a positive way since the moratorium. She said that the University’s response has helped prompt Greek organizations to examine and implement safer practices.
Shollenberger noted that since the PIKE incident, the administration has changed its method of dealing with sexual assault allegations within groups affiliated with the University.
“We have re-looked at our timely warnings and put more checks in place so there's not just one person making a decision,” Shollenberger said. “There are several people weighing in in a very timely way to get information out to students, and certainly, that was something that was in the press a lot, which is why I'm mentioning it. We have really been looking at our education programs and re-evaluating what we're doing as far as training and education... This year was the first time we've actually followed up with students who didn't attend the [orientation week sexual assault] trainings, asking them to make up the trainings, and I think we can do an even better job next year about being clearer on that.”
Shollenberger also sees room for improvement in the administration’s sexual assault management policies.
“There's actually a lot that's been happening since May, and I understand there's still a lot more that needs to be done,” he said.
Melanie Levine, Sari Amiel and Jacqui Neber contributed reporting.
Editor’s Note: An abridged version of this article appears in the print edition. This online version is the full article. The article has been updated to reflect that the moratorium was lifted on Nov. 14.