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.
According to Marian Firke ‘14, Swarthmore College has taken disciplinary action against Phi Psi after a snapshot of the fraternity’s pledge bid, which contains a mosaic image composed of photos of naked women, circulated around campus. Firke is one of a number of students who have replicated the snapshot and spread it both in campus buildings and online since it was first posted to Facebook Sunday night. The Daily Gazette has not determined if the disciplinary action is directly related to the bid.
“The fraternity has been asked to suspend all of their recruiting and told that they will not be able to host parties until some educational remedies have been enacted,” Firke said.
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Wednesday, Liliana Rodriguez, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, described the Dean’s Office’s response. “We are working with the fraternity on a multifaceted remedy that will require training and other measures be successfully completed before the fraternity can resume its recruitment efforts or host social events to ensure that our values are upheld, and that such a situation will not recur,” she is reported as having said.
The Dean’s Office has not, as of Wednesday night, announced the sanctions to the student body at large. However, Dean of Students Liz Braun has issued the following statement: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the fraternity’s use of totally inappropriate imagery, and it will stop now.”
One element of the student response to the pledge bid is an online petition drafted by Firke and three other students. The petition calls for the Student Budget Committee (SBC) to defund fraternity campus parties until the fraternities achieve a 10% female membership and open up their membership to all students regardless of gender identity.
The College’s decision to take action comes independently of the petition, and the imposed sanctions are unrelated to the petition’s demands. Firke said the decision had already been made by the time she approached administrators.
The stipulations in the student petition were derived from the single Greek life referendum that was passed by students last spring under the referendum powers set out by the Student Council constitution. The referendum asked students whether they “support admitting students of all genders to sororities and fraternities.”
Since it passed with a 53% majority, the Dean’s Office has not made clear to students how they interpret the wording of the referendum, nor how binding it is. Students have suggested the referendum could have been intended to imply as much as full gender inclusivity in all Greek organizations, or as little as inclusivity for gender-non-binary students within the current fraternity and sorority structure.
To The Daily Gazette‘s knowledge, the Dean’s Office has not made any overt attempts to enforce the referendum or alter Greek organizations’ admissions policies as a result of it.