The same is true for the issue of whether or not to start a sorority on campus, since the only members of the community who would be directly affected are those who decide to join. Sorority opponents voice many concerns about the as-yet-hypothetical sorority, including a too-active party culture, exclusiveness and a dislike of the word “sorority” being associated with their college. But these concerns all refer to indirect repercussions, if tangible repercussions at all.
Holding a referendum on the establishment of a sorority is somewhat akin to holding a referendum on whether to grant a community the right of same-sex marriage. The only people who would be directly affected by the establishment of a same-sex marriage right are those who choose to exercise that right. Others may be indirectly affected because it offends their moral or religious philosophy, but such concerns are not sufficient to force a referendum on the issue.
Not to mention that the concerns sorority opponents voice about the potential sisterhood are immaterial if the sorority founders are listening. Swarthmore is a college with strong values which most campus groups respect. The sorority leaders will likely go out of their way to ensure that Kappa Alpha Theta is not racist, classist or homophobic, or a breeding ground for emotional and sexual abuse, as sorority opponents fear. The College’s third Greek institution will ensure that it adds to rather than detracts from campus life and sense of community.
In the unlikely event that, after the sorority has been established for a few years, students determine that the majority of them are being negatively affected by its presence, then a referendum on its right to continue to exist might become appropriate. But at this point in time, with the sisterhood not yet off the ground, the College could not justify leaving its fate in the hands of those who have nothing to do with it.
Swarthmore ought to follow the simple, moral philosophy of live and let live, and let its students be sisters.
A Different View