Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Sororities at Swarthmore College were abolished in 1933. Despite more than 75 percent of female students being members of a sorority, the student body decided by referendum to dissolve sororities. Almost 8 decades later, we must answer the same question that students did then—do we want a sorority on campus?
Unfortunately, this decision was taken out of the student body’s hands by the administration and the Board of Managers over the summer. They have collectively agreed to the presence of a sorority on campus—one of the same ones, in fact, which was abolished in 1933.
The fact is that having a sorority on campus would affect the lives of the Board of Managers very little, while it would alter the lives of all students drastically. Therefore, every member of the student body should be given the option to voice their opinion. If the student body votes and decides to allow the sorority, then that will be our decision and it should be respected.
Unity in decision-making is an important Quaker value that the Swarthmore community should uphold. It does not refer to agreement without dissent, but instead to the idea that out of respect for the entire community, dissenters may stand aside if they disagree with, but do not have moral misgivings with, a decision. As long as every student is given a chance to affect their own community, the final decision can stand as it is.
I could go on about all the reasons I am personally opposed to a sorority, but that is a secondary issue here. What is at stake is our voice. A sorority affects each of us, and each of us should have the chance to speak out one way or another. Those who want the sorority, those who don’t, those who are ambivalent, those who want the Greek system abolished altogether—every opinion counts. Every voice matters and should be heard.