On Monday, the Student Senate hosted a Greek representation forum to get feedback from the community about status of Greek senators. The event had very strong participation by the Greek community. On less than a week’s notice around 200 people attended and the entire two hours allocated for the event was filled with discussion. It was made clear by the Senate that the motivation for discussion was not a reflection of the quality of service done by the Independent Council senators or Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council senators. In fact, these senators were recognized for both their activity and involvement in the Senate. Concerns were brought up that, due to the dissolution of the IC, there would no longer be senators representing them. This raised the questions, given that the Independent Council no longer has senators, should Greek senator positions exist? and would having Greek senators without Independent Council senators bring unbalance to the Senate? It is not stated anywhere in the Union Constitution or the Senate bylaws that it is part of the role of the Greek senators to balance the IC senators. This is making a connection between the two organizations that simply does not exist.
The question was raised if it was fair to give the Greeks direct representation on the Senate while other large groups on campus do not have such representation. The IFC and Panhel are not Union-recognized organizations and receive no Union funding, eliminating many channels that other organizations have to influence policy. The Greek community also expressed its support for providing representation in the Senate to other large groups seeking it.
It was also brought up that, since all Greeks are part of their respective classes, they are already represented in the Senate. Some Greeks expressed that they felt more connected to their Greek senators than to their class senators. Senators from a particular class are elected to pursue policy that is in the best interest of their class and this is not always aligned with what is best for the Greek community. As in the past, Senate public relations campaigns had difficulty reaching Greeks because they mainly happened in dining halls. Many Greeks are on their own chapter’s meal plan, instead of an Institute meal plan, so this is not an effective way to reach Greeks. As a result the Greek perspective is underrepresented in the feedback class senators get from their constituents.
Having voting Greek senators is the only way to ensure the Greek perspective is represented in all future senates. The Greek senators also serve an important role in making the opinion of the Greek community publicly known on controversial Senate issues. Greeks represent a larger and more involved proportion of the RPI community than any single class does alone. Furthermore, they represent this large group with only two Senate seats where each class has four. The elimination of the Greek senator positions is of no use to the student body, especially since in the 2013 GM Week election, the student body overwhelmingly voted in favor of both Greek senators having a vote on Senate. Through this forum, the Greek community has shown that it deeply cares about their role in student government.