Call for Referendum on Sorority at Swarthmore College

Please sign this petition so that Student Council can hold a referendum on whether or not students agree with the presence of a sorority at Swarthmore College. This will allow the voice of every member of the college community to be heard and also more definitively determine the campus climate surrounding this contentious issue. The motivation behind this petition is that sorority presence on college campuses affects each and every one of us at Swarthmore College. In light of this, we believe that each student should be able to participate in a large-scale productive discussion regarding the sorority and whether or not it should be brought to Swarthmore College. Students in favor of the sorority believe it fills a much-needed role by providing both a counterpoint to the fraternities in terms of gender equality. Students against the sorority believe that it will create a number of unnecessary risks. Some students would like to see the Greek system at Swarthmore abolished altogether. Regardless of your opinion, this is an issue that should be talked about, and a referendum is the way to do it. If you have any opinion at all, sign the petition and come to the referendum. Note 1: Alumni may sign the petition to voice their concerns, but they will not count towards the number of students that determines whether or not this issue goes to referendum. Note 2: This petition was formerly located at iPetitions.com; however, that website did not allow people to sign anonymously while still allowing the petition owners to confirm that each signature was from a different person. This new form gives you the opportunity to remain anonymous to everyone except for the petition owners. If you already signed the old petition, please sign this one again. Comments from signatories on the old petition can be found here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-sorority-at-swarthmore-college/signatures. The short link http://tinyurl.com/swatreferendum can be used to share this petition. Thank you!
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Signatories (as of 6 a.m., 9/26/2012)

With comments: Alexander Ahn '14 Again, the solution to male-dominated Greek culture on campus is NOT the institution of a female parallel. It is better to abolish the tradition altogether. Kate Aronoff '14 The decision to abolish the sororities in the thirties was a multi-year process involving two student body-wide referendums. The conversations around the sorority have taken place largely behind closed doors, or in "interest meetings" posed as opportunities for dialogue. Establishing a sorority--and opening the door to others--would represent a shift in campus culture at least as big as abolishing them did in the thirties. The dialogue around it should be at least as rigorous. Hope Brinn '15 Quaker colleges have a history of disallowing Greek life on campus because of their exclusionary (racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, classist) histories. I am extremely disappointed that Swarthmore decided to implement such a controversial group on campus without even having a campus wide discussion or referendum. Claris Chang '13 Yes to a conversation, and I hope it's more than the (often polarized) vocal minority that speaks up. We need all viewpoints on this matter as it affects the whole campus. I am wary, but I do think the sorority's reputation and place within the Swarthmore community will greatly depend on the sorority leaders, their members and how they choose to represent themselves. Do we give them a chance to reform our preconceived notions of sororities? Or do we shut them down before they can even attempt to do so? I personally prefer the former option, but yes, let's talk about it. Emily Dolson '13 When I was looking for a college four years ago, I looked for the nerdiest school I could find, and counted myself lucky to have succeeded in that endeavor. Swarthmore students are, in general, self-selected for having interests and social preferences that differ from the nonstop party model that seems so popular elsewhere. The lack of sororities is an important signal to prospective students about the culture of Swarthmore, which leads to successive incoming classes that perpetuate this culture. Even a sorority founded with the best of intentions will have a completely new set of members in four years. These members may be coming in with different expectations and without such strong self-selection for people who don't want a culture reminiscent of greek life elsewhere. While I'm not necessarily concerned about the immediate effects of creating a sorority (I fully believe the NYS is well-intentioned), given the psychological tendency for people to adapt their actions to match whatever they perceive their role in a social structure to be, I am quite concerned about the effects of the organization that could exist a few years down the road. There are already plenty of schools that prospective students can go to if they want a culture like that - I want to know that Swarthmore will continue to be here for those with different preferences. Nicholas Felt '13 When I was researching colleges I explicitly looked for those with a minimal Greek life presence on campus, for the same reasons outlined in the petition text and emphasized by other signers. Fraternities and sororities, no matter how well-intended the people in them might be, have long been linked to a host of problems ranging from exclusionary practices and hazing to binge drinking and sexual assault. While I can understand interest in a party space and social organization for women (especially to counterbalance the influence of the fraternities), expanding the influence of Greek life at Swat is not the way to make that happen. Alternative proposals such as a Women's Union are much better options than a sorority, and would allow for establishing a social space for women structured to *avoid* the problems plaguing conventional Greek life - which is a much more Swarthmore approach. Christopher Geissler '13 While I respect the right of others to make decisions different than my own, I have serious misgivings about Greek life and the party culture at Swarthmore as a whole. In my view, instituting a sorority would not improve the situation, but only further entrench structures that I believe to be disrespectful to human dignity, destructive to students' welfare, and simply illegal. Holly Kinnamont '12 I find it disconcerting that the sorority was brought to life during the summer without much discussion from the community. I would like to see the founding members of the sorority more directly address their goals and their plans regarding the sorority, because many members of the College community remain unconvinced that the sorority would make a specifically positive impact on Swat culture. I don't know if alum participation is allowed, but I just wanted to share my thoughts. Aaron Kroeber '16 Both fraternities and sororities are exclusionary by nature, neither should be allowed on campus. Alexander Noyes '15 I will admit to having a bias against Greek life, but I would never want a school or organization or community to be shut down or affected by unpopularity. However, this group has an affiliation beyond this campus. This organization is receiving 12, 000 dollars which distinguished it from a normal chartered school group. Therefore, the decision must be treated differently than a regular school group. A non-national affiliated sorority would fine. I don't want one, but I would believe it in the full right of my peers to start and join one, and I would never want anything to affect their right to do so. Eugenia Sokolskaya '13 As far as I can see, the risks outweigh the benefits. Anonymous '12 The assertion that Greek life doesn't affect everyone on campus is completely false. Think of it like digging a hole. Just because some people enjoy being in holes doesn't necessarily mean that we should just start digging holes all over campus. The majority of people prefer not to fall into holes. Normally, it's easy to avoid falling into holes, but I fear the evolution of a social pressure that will make the holes wider and wider, making harder and harder for those who don't want to be in holes avoid them. Concisely: the Swarthmore campus is a community, and we must make weighty decisions such as this together. While I myself am not _completely_ opposed to the introduction of sororities, I feel that the entire campus community needs be heard - via referendum - on the decision. Anonymous '13 Both frats and sororities are out of place at Swarthmore. We should merge them into "societies" or some similar category. Anonymous '13 Everyone should have the opportunity to vote on the sorority since having a sorority on campus affects every student at Swat. Anonymous '13 I believe the inclusion of a sorority on campus would irrevocably change the face of our school and encourage a more segregated student life. I applied to Swarthmore in part because we have no sororities and am concerned we will lose a pool of not only female applicants but applicants of all genders if we allow a sorority on campus again. Anonymous '13 While I am pretty sure an extended conversation about this sorority HAS already taken place, I think a referendum/discussion would be valuable for all planned sorority-boycotters. For all those who have met Satya Nelms, the campus adviser for the proposed sorority, it is clear that she and the women involved have no intention of fostering an exclusive, diversity-hating, anorexia-supporting cesspool of ditzy rich girls. Not everyone hates the fraternities, women included, and not everyone thinks that calling something a "society" instead of a "sorority" is a magic bullet that eliminates all of the issues that have been brought to light below. This sorority, in its beginning phases, will not have a house or even a meeting space. They will never hold parties that serve alcohol. They will not haze new members or make them parade around in dresses in order to determine who works out enough to be accepted. Instead of insisting that you get to decide about its existence (which doesn't happen with any other clubs on campus), why don't you just NOT JOIN and ignore the sorority's presence? Anonymous '14 The exclusionary nature of the Greek system in general worries me. I appreciate all of NYS' efforts to make sure that any female-identifying student who wishes to join may do so, but the clique-ish nature of Greek life remains an issue. The campus needs to talk about the kind of social life we want to establish, and if we're going to have a sorority, the leaders need to be willing to engage with the entire campus. Anonymous '14 I would really like to see a discussion of this issue. Thee was a lot of pushback against having a sorority that ignored the fact of fraternities already present on campus. Since fraternities and sororities are essentially the same institution, we should decide if we want to be gender neutral about accepting them on campus, or if we don't want them at all. Anonymous '15 I really don't think there should even be a sorority, and those who are opposed didn't get much say in this. Lets not forget that sororities were once banned here for not admitting Jewish women (this happened even at a place like Swarthmore). What will be next? Discrimination based on weight, looks, religion again? I'm not sure this is the answer to swarthmore's women's problems. Anonymous '15 I, for one, absolutely love the social atmosphere that is based more on spontaneous fun with dorms and friends rather than one dictated or dominated by a greater fraternity or sorority presence on campus. By far one of the biggest advantages I see in Swarthmore over the California state schools my closest high school friends attend. Without comments: Atish Agarwala '13 Maria Ximena Anleu '15 Lisa Bao '14 Victoria Barber '13 Gabe Benjamin '15 Sara Blazevic '15 Thomas Boucher '14 Paul Cato '14 Laina Sara Chin '16 Katharine Clark '12 Elowyn M. Corby '13 Andres Cordero '16 Ezra Day-Roberts '13 William Patrick Duncan '13 Gail Engmann '14 Benjamin Geselowitz '13 Matthew Goldman '15 Miriam Hauser '13 Sachie Hayakawa '13 Danny Hirschel-Burns '14 Dylan Jeffers '15 William Lawrence '13 Zequn Li '16 Yana List '14 Jennifer Lu '16 Maya Marzouk '13 Allison McKinnon '13 Michael-Anne Myrvang '13 Zein Nakhoda '13 Daniel Orr '16 Elliot Padgett '13 Ian Perkins-Taylor '13 Samantha Reichard '15 Maximilian Pany '14 Ali Roseberry-Polier '14 Jasmeet Samra '14 Ellen Sanchez-Huerta '13 Clarissa Skinner '13 Cole Turner '15 Maria Vieytez '16 Minh Vo '14 Cassandra Vondrak '15 Jonah Wacholder '13 Emma Waitzman '14 Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon '13 Jo Wong '14 Joyce H. Wu '15 Edward Zhang '13 Anonymous '84 Anonymous '12 Anonymous '12 Anonymous '12 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '13 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '14 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '15 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16 Anonymous '16

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