Student Activism

Save RPI Greek Life march cancelled

Claim made in cancellation statement remains unverified

Three days after its announcement, the March Against Deferred Recruitment was cancelled by “Save RPI Greek Life,” the anonymous organization that had planned the event. The march was to be held on the sidewalks in front of the Union on Friday at 4 pm.

The anonymous organization operates primarily on social media and has postered on campus. It has an Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and email account with variations on the name “Save RPI Greek Life.” The email used for correspondence with The Polytechnic is listed on the organization’s Facebook and website.  When The Poly sent an email to ask if members planned on remaining anonymous and why, a representative for the organization did not give an answer.

From messages viewed by The Poly, it was clear that Greek Senator Peter Gramenides ’20 helped organize the march and was a leader of Save RPI Greek Life. When asked for comment, Gramenides said he only gave “advice” and ended his involvement with the organization when he was elected to the Interfraternity Council. Gramenides was appointed to the vacant position of Greek senator on February 20 and then elected on March 29 during GM Week 2019. He could not provide anything to verify when he transitioned out of his leadership role in Save RPI Greek Life.

“We are allowed to host a small rally on public property without violating any rules or laws. As a result, we will gather on the sidewalks and march, while remaining on public property, to the back of the Troy building,” wrote a representative in an email. He explained that they did not apply for approval of a peaceful demonstration because they “anticipated denial or having the march pushed back to an inopportune time, location, or date.”

In a now-deleted letter posted on Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook on Thursday, Save RPI Greek Life cancelled the march. “Last night the presidents of campus fraternities voted almost unanimously to not endorse Save RPI Greek Life’s march planned for this Friday. The Panhellenic Council also did not endorse the march,” wrote the organization.

Panhellenic Council President Tori Gilroy ’20 explained in an email to The Poly that their organization had its weekly meeting before the protest was announced and then did not meet until after it was cancelled, and therefore did not discuss an endorsement. Interfraternity Council President Vish Gopalakrishnan ’20 did not respond to a request for clarifications on the fraternity president vote.

“The vote yesterday does not constitute a lack of support against the issues, as evident by attendance at the Greek Life Forum, but a difference in how we should approach the problem,” wrote Save RPI Greek Life in the letter. According to the organization, deferred recruitment and the Arch “are expected to cost the Greek community over $1 million a year.”

The letter also alleged that presidents of Greek organizations sent emails to their members encouraging them not to attend the march and that some said “there would be sanctions for involvement.” When The Polytechnic asked for evidence of this claim, an email response signed by the Save RPI Greek Life “Executive Board” did not provide any information.

In alignment with the cancellation, a march did not occur on Friday. Administrators and other Rensselaer staff were seen gathered outside the west side of the Union around the originally scheduled time for the march.