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In the face of a growing party school reputation (that most of us apparently missed) and a slide in national rankings, Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, led by college President James F. Jones Jr., is looking to shake things up a bit.
Trinity College plans to transform its social climate, including forcing fraternities and sororities to go coed.
The decision on Greek life has thrust Trinity President James F. Jones Jr. and the board of trustees into the center of a firestorm of protest and petitions from sorority and fraternity members and alumni, with some threatening to withhold donations.
Well that sounds like an implausible and terrible idea, unless as president James Jones actually wants fraternities and sororities gone from campus altogether. As far as I can tell, there are only two possible outcomes from forcing Greek houses to go coed:
1. All the houses go coed, continue to admit the exact same type of people they would have before, and continue to dominate the social scene, effectively causing little to no change in the school’s social climate.
2. All the fraternities and sororities eventually fold or lose their charters, eliminating Greek Life from campus.
It’s not hard to guess which option Jones would prefer. In fact, Jones admits that he would like to see fraternities and sororities gone from Trinity’s campus, and he does so in quite literally the geediest way imaginable.
Jones wrote that if only he had Harry Potter’s wand,” he would “wave it over Vernon Street and change all the fraternities and sororities into theme houses.”
Jesus Titty-fucking Christ.
By the way, this is not something Jones said offhand. This was an excerpt from a “white paper,” or official college report, written last year by Jones.
If the decision to include a Harry Potter reference in an official report doesn’t illustrate how much on an idiot Jones is, then the fact that he clearly does not have a grasp on the limitations of the power of Harry’s wand certainly does. I mean, Jim, changing an entire neighborhood with one flick of the wrist? This isn’t exactly an expelliarmus we’re talking about here. Maybe if Harry still had the Elder Wand. Maybe. I mean, uh, what a fucking idiot nerd.
Anyway, the main concern for the Trinity College administration seems to be a decline in quality applicants and the aforementioned rise in a party school reputation that has apparently been pervasive on social media. The rise in partying has led some top students to transfer, due to a general displeasure with the school’s social scene and a newfound lack of academic seriousness among the students.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, transferred due his own unhappiness with the Trinity social scene and the decline in academic seriousness among the student population. He had some harsh parting words for his former school.
“The school turned into a joke. Kids were down to studying only thirty or forty hours a week, and most of my friends weren’t even suicidal anymore. Now everyone does stuff like ‘talk to each other’ and ‘go to parties’ like a bunch of sheep. To me, learning is about individuality. That’s why I’m transferring to a school where the students are serious about their studies, deathly serious. So serious that it might make us all jump off a bridge together.”
Meanwhile, fraternity and sorority members feel victimized by the school’s decision.
On the Trinity campus, fraternity and sorority members say they are being unfairly scapegoated and worry that the plan is the start of a campaign to abolish Greek life.
“It’s like we’ve been thrown under the bus,” said Amalia Nicholas, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Fraternity and sorority members at Trinity feel they are being unfairly targeted and linked to drinking on campus, particularly as the school has pulled back on its investment in social opportunities for students in recent years, leaving the Greeks to provide the parties.
“We are the scapegoats of Trinity College,” said Jesse Hunt, president of Psi Upsilon. “We have been so accommodating. … We pay for the school’s parties because the school has abdicated on that.”
Just so we’re clear, under the James Jones administration, the school has pulled back its investments in other social opportunities for students, forcing kids to turn to private clubs like fraternities and sororities for socialization. As a result of that, the fraternities and sororities, which make up roughly 18% of the student population at Trinity, wield a disproportional influence on the school’s social scene. That social scene then apparently became more prevalent, leading to an increased party school reputation and a decline in quality applicants. All of this, which was a result of President Jones’ policies, made Jones unhappy, so he decided to punish the fraternities and sororities for his mistakes.
That’s a real Cornelius Fudge move. Are you fucking kidding me?
But of course Jones does not view forcing Greek houses to go coed as him attempting to fix the results of one of his previous mistakes. Rather, he views it as a service to the students, much like he did while he was cutting their previous social funding, I’m sure.
Removing them (fraternities and sororities) from campus, Jones said, would “be to remove from Trinity’s DNA the last remaining vestige of an anti-meritocratic structure on campus.”
Yes, the last anti-meritocratic structure on Trinity’s campus will finally be gone…well, other than the $58,000 students have to pay in tuition every year. That’s probably not going anywhere even though its arguably the most anti-meritocratic thing about Trinity College, but whatever, fuck it.
Of course, all of that is more or less bullshit, since Jones has already mentioned, in a official college report no less, that he is not a fan of fraternities and sororities (but IS a huge fan of Harry Potter). Jones’ distaste for Greek Life actually goes all the way back to his college years.
He (Jones) also spoke of his own experience at the University of Virginia, where he declined a bid from a prestigious fraternity because an African-American friend did not feel welcome there.
While it is a shame that Jones and his friend had a poor experience with a fraternity during his undergraduate years, it might behoove him to make African-Americans feel comfortable at his own school, in the present, before he goes worrying about how a decades old situation that happened at an entirely different school relates to Trinity’s own fraternities and sororities.
Below is an excerpt from a senior theses written by Trinity student Candace Simpson at the end of the Fall 2011 semester. It’s titled “How Did We Get Here? Exploring Students of Color’s Journeys at Trinity College.”
I wondered why after three years of working hard both in and out of the classroom I was still uncomfortable. I did not feel like Trinity belonged to me. Nor did I feel that I belonged at Trinity.
The paper detailed a few relatively mild but nonetheless appalling racially charged incidents that occurred during Simpson’s time at Trinity, including one involving herself. The incidents mentioned were no doubt brought to the attention of Jones, and it is hard to believe his experience years ago at UVA did not come to mind when he learned of these incidents, despite having no idea whether anyone involved was a fraternity or sorority member.
Meanwhile, many alumni and students are saying the real concern is not fraternities and sororities, but the security of Trinity students, a concern that Candace Simpson and other minority students’ negative experiences would probably reinforce moreso than any “Greek problems.” Alumni and students believe, however, that Jones is overlooking the security issue completely.
Security has been a huge concern among students and an assault last spring has become a flash point. There have been no arrests in the attack on Chris Kenny, a student who was walking along a campus border. Since then, the college has increased security at the Frog Hollow campus.
Kenny is recovered and is back at school, but his mother, Cecily Kenny, said she fears that shutting down fraternities could lead to more students going to parties off campus, perhaps walking on neighborhood streets late at night or, possibly, drinking and driving.
I can’t wait to see who Jones blames then, though it will probably be no one, since he is leaving the office in 2015. In fact, its Jones’ impending resignation that has him making all of these drastic changes.
“I’m leaving in 2015, so this is a matter of tremendous urgency to me.”
That’s reassuring, because if history has proven anything, it’s that people desperately trying to secure a legacy for themselves generally make intelligent, measured decisions.
In fact, Jones is not just trying to secure his legacy, he is trying to save it. Since Jones became president in 2004 Trinity College has dropped in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings every single year, from 24th in 2004 to 38th on the most recent list.
Considering all of this, it would seem that Jones’ tenure at Trinity has been a wildly unsuccessful one, and that Jones is doing nothing more than trying to make up for his own poor leadership by throwing a few last second Hail Marys. Unfortunately for Trinity’s fraternities and sororities, they make an easy scapegoat for Jones and the school.
James Jones, you are a shitty president. Your distaste for Greek Life was born after an African-American friend had a bad experience decades ago at a fraternity in Virginia, yet black students apparently do not feel comfortable at the school you currently run. You hate that fraternities and sororities are the organizations dominating the social scene at your school, yet you cut funding to school sponsored social outlets. You are upset that Trinity College has lost academic prestige, and are blaming it on others, meanwhile this decline occurred steadily under your administration, and your tutelage (Jones takes great pride in the fact that he teaches a class at Trinity every year), for eight years. Plus you make shitty Harry Potter references.
God you suck.