Kutzer, IDEAS Center lead campus organizations in open dialogue at town hall

‘Low attendance showcases divide’

An open dialogue regarding the divide between Greek and non-Greek organizations on campus was held in Quigley Auditorium on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Ken Kutzer, ’18, president of Allegheny’s Theta Chi fraternity, invited members of the Allegheny community to join a discussion with his fraternity and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center.

“I think that if we get involved on a more regular basis, we can make a big, big impact on campus,” said Kutzer in his opening remarks, directing his statement at Greek organizations.

I think that if we get involved on a more regular basis, we can make a big, big impact on campus

— Ken Kutzer, Class of 2018

No representatives from non-Greek organizations were present for the discussion or the meeting’s co-organizer the IDEAS Center. Much of the dialogue on Sunday concerned why there was such a disconnect between the two sub-cultural spheres and how Greek organizations should go about respectfully addressing the issue.

In regards to attendance, Allen Baugh, ’18, of Phi Beta Sigma said, “Why did only three of your guys show up? I would look at that, and you might want to look at it as a president and think, ‘my chapter doesn’t care about this issue’.”

Shane Ostrom
Phi Beta Sigma member Allen Baugh, ‘18, discusses the divide between the Greek and non-Greek organizations on campus on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.

While Baugh spoke directly to President of Phi Delta Theta Josh Cohen, ’18, he went on to note that no Greek organization except for the Theta Chi, the organizers of the event, were represented by more than two or three members.

Mark Abrams, ’19, of Delta Tau Delta interjected.

“I don’t think you should have to say ‘you should care about this.’ That’s not a conversation you should have to have,” Abrams said.

Abrams attempted to propose addressing the issue head-on and without preliminary discussions.

Abrams’s argument opened the door for a response from Cohen concerning not only the number of people that care but how it is expressed.

“It feels kind of exploiting. As a Greek organization leader, I would never want to go to a non-Greek organization and ask them for money to put an event on and throw their name on a poster. I think that’s worse than not doing anything.” Cohen said. “We’re fundamentally attracted to [those] who are like us, so why can’t we just sit down and have events where we learn about each other and just talk as people of the Allegheny community?”

Shane Ostrom
Josh Cohen, ‘18, suggests a friendly meal might be a good step to address exclusivity at open dialogue on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.

The discussion concluded with widespread acknowledgment that these community meetings have been held many times before with no shift in Allegheny’s cultural climate. For some, the divide was not apparent until they attended the meeting and realized that no non-Greek organizations came because these types of discussions have been idealistic but ultimately unproductive on initiating change.

In order to continue this dialogue, contact information was exchanged and preliminary plans to hold another meeting in the near future were arranged between representatives of the organizations that were present. The time of the event was incorrectly advertised by the Office of Student Involvement  as 6 p.m. It is not clear if this mistake affected attendance, but all remaining Greek representatives agreed that a meeting next month should be planned well in advance with more substantial communication.