Revocation of co-ed mandate devalues Trinity degree

DANIEL LLOYD

PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR

What do you think of President Berger-Sweeney’s ultimate decision that led to the revocation of the co-educational mandate?  Take this simple quiz!

Let’s begin the semester with a little multiple choice quiz. The topic of said quiz is the future of Trinity College’s “Big Three” fraternities: St. Anthony Hall, Psi Upsilon, and Alpha Delta Phi.

Some similar questions could be, and have been, raised about other single sex social organizations, but these three are the paradigms of exclusivity and privilege on this campus.  These organizations all culminate on Friday and Saturday nights to shape the social scene and they appear to completely dominate the perceived social life of the College.

We will give you the three possible response options first, in the form of plans to be implemented and acted upon by Trinity College. See the below plans and evaluate them  as you please; it is a crucial decision and careful judgment is very necessary.

Plan A:  The “Big Three” carry on but without buildings.  Instead, their three houses become available to all students as theme houses.  Periodically, any interested group proposes a theme for one of the houses and a campus-wide referendum decides. Ogilby, a dorm currently owned by the College but exclusively controlled by a fraternity, becomes part of the campus housing stock (A+!).

Plan B:  The “Big Three” carry on in their houses, but membership and power is shared 50-50 between female and male members.  This has twice been mandated by the Trustees of the College, most recently by a unanimous vote in 2012.

Plan C:  The “Big Three” carry on in their buildings as they always have, two of them (as always) with membership, power, and privilege exclusively given to males.  As everyone knows, this was announced as the new plan on September 4, in explicit repudiation of Plan B. Plan C is not a subtle adjustment but big news.  (It was front page in the Courant and soon to be a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Now for the questions.

1. Under which plan will women and men on this  campus feel safest and most protected from the threat of sexual assault?

2. Under which plan will women and students who happen not to be interested in joining a fraternity feel the most opportunity to shape the social and residential life of the College?

3. Which plan will improve housing options and opportunities for all students?

4. Which plan will most reduce the number of students transferring to other colleges, most of whom cite the constricted social life of  Trinity as their reason for transferring?

5. Which plan will suggest to applicants that Trinity truly welcomes applicants from a diversity of backgrounds and lifestyles?

6. Which plan will suggest to potential applicants (and their parents) that Trinity offers a safe social environment, an engaged intellectual community, and a good start on a happy, healthy life?

7. Which plan will signal to alumni who have been alienated by memories of social exclusion that their alma mater is changing for the better?

8. Which plan will most help to overcome the “party school” image that adheres like a bad smell to every Trinity resume and every transcript?

9. Which plan will most likely improve Trinity’s reputation in college guides and rankings?

10. Which plan is most supportive of the College mission “to foster critical thinking, free the mind of parochialism and prejudice, and prepare students to lead examined lives that are personally satisfying, civically responsible, and socially useful”?

Scoring: you can score yourself as you please, but the wider world of higher education in the United States, including everyone on campus and everyone who might someday apply, will certainly be keeping score; the bottom line is the value of a Trinity degree.

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