REBECCA REINGOLD `17
Controversial, and widely discussed, the Co-educational Mandate enforced at Trinity College has sparked large speculation over the school’s decision to finally drop it. First brought about in 2012 by Trinity’s previous President James F. Jones Jr., the mandate required all sororities and fraternities to go co-ed by 2016. Recently, however, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney sent out a letter to the Trinity community acknowledging that the concerns of the greek community have been heard, and she has decided to drop the co-ed mandate.
After thorough investigation of each sorority and fraternity on campus, the administration of Trinity College made their official decision to drop the mandate in an e-mail delivered to the Trinity community on Sept. 4, 2015. Berger-Sweeney stated in her letter to the community “I have asked the Board of Trustees to endorse the elimination of the co-ed mandate for all selective social organizations, including fraternities and sororities.
The mandate was originally enforced in the hopes to better the school’s gender equity. To some, this rule sounded good in theory. To others, however, it seemed as if the school had a different intention when attempting to force all sororities and fraternities to become co-educational. Hugh Grygiel ’17 said, “I think the mandate was an attempt to reduce the amount of Greek life on this campus as a whole. There would not be enough males and females to fill every Greek house and, as a result, only a few would survive. Though this school may feel it needs a more viable social alternative for students who choose not to join or just socialize at fraternities and/or sororities, it does not need to do that by destroying them for the students that do.”
This mandate has become relatively common throughout many college campuses, especially in the northern region. Wesleyan University is another college that has also enforced this mandate in the hopes to end gender inequality. The fraternities at Wesleyan fought back, only to receive a result of denied campus housing for next year. Part of the reason that Wesleyan had intended to enforce the mandate was that they hoped it would reduce sexual assault on campus.
Speculation spread throughout the Trinity community that President Jones’ original attempt to enforce the mandate was his attempt to abolish Greek life altogether. Jones, however, denied these claims throughout his presidential reign that sparked many alumni to threaten to pull their donations to the school if they enforce this mandate in full. A large portion of the school’s donations comes from the alumni of many Greek life organizations. When Jones insisted on the mandate, he met with multiple Greek organizations to discuss the issue they have with the co-ed enforcement, but continued to move forward with it. He believed that the mandate would better the Trinity community and create a more comfortable environment for students to rush the sororities and fraternities at Trinity College. Berger-Sweeney, however, has acknowledged the importance of tradition and has moved forward with the mandate by dropping it altogether. Her decision to drop the mandate was one she made by listening to multiple people regarding the new rule. In her letter to the community, she states that she has “spent the last 15 months doing a great deal of listening to students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and our neighbors about their concerns for the future of student social life on campus and the role of selective social organizations, including sororities and fraternities.” In doing so, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney was able to hear any and all voiced concerns of the co-ed mandate from a wide variety of people.
Students not a part of Greek life seem to be ecstatic for their friends who are a part of Greek life and who they themselves participate in Greek life activities. Briana Cammarata ’17 weighed in on the issue, “I think the decision to drop the coed mandate at Trinity College was a great move by President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. By dropping the mandate, she is ensuring that she is listening to the voice of students and is willing to make changes to the school that benefit not just the image of the school, but the students’ happiness. Dropping the coed mandate ensures that students who are part of Greek life are able to continue practicing their traditions of the Greek organization they chose, as well as continue to make bonds with people through the secrets and traditions of these organizations. By having a coed mandate, many people would not participate in Greek life and it would ruin the tradition that so many people have come to love and will remember for years to come.”
Many students who are a part of Greek Life have been rejoicing over the news. They are now able to express themselves through the traditions and secrets that these separate gender organizations have celebrated for years at Trinity College.
REBECCA REINGOLD `17