Thu. May 19th, 2022

Louis Hannegan, Managing Editor

Students continued to debate the establishment of Alpha Delta Gamma as a club on campus during a second Student Government-sponsored town hall meeting called to discuss the matter.

Senior Fernando Vilches voices concerns at the second town hall meeting hosted by Student Government regarding the Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity.

The meeting, held last Tuesday, was part of SG’s effort to gauge student opinion in preparation for a full-senate vote on whether to grant ADG a charter. The vote, expected by Nov. 13, will neither establish nor necessarily prevent ADG from being established on campus, but rather will serve as advice and counsel to President Thomas Keefe. SG will also give Keefe a report compiled from the student feedback. Keefe plans to make the final decision himself at the end of this semester or the beginning of next semester.

The meeting opened with a PowerPoint presentation given by the students who serve as the Executive Board of the ADG colony on campus, followed by a brief Q&A session.

One of the 25 or so students sitting in Lynch that evening, senior Nathan McCormick expressed concern about how ADG would “fit with the character of UD.”

“Being considered part of the school gives us legitimacy. It allows us to give UD a big part of the structure,” University of Dallas ADG Colony President Patrick Berry said. “We already have a really diverse crew that brings us together.”

Other students suggested that establishing a fraternity would be a departure from UD’s peculiar Greek life-free brand.

“That is the great thing about this though,” said John Yarborough, the colony’s vice president of external affairs. “It is completely voluntary.”

After fielding questions from the audience, the fraternity members left the auditorium, opening up a tense discussion among the students present.

Some, such as senior Jon Allison, pointed out that UD already has organizations on campus to serve the charitable needs that ADG purports to meet.

Nico Cerza, Patrick Berry, Matt Cyr, Zach Santonil and William Hegedusich, current members of the ADG UD colony, sought to alleviate student concerns about their fraternity.

Others, such as senior Tara McCrorey, sought to redirect the conversation away from the question of “necessity” toward what they considered the more important question of whether the costs of having ADG as a club would outweigh the benefits.

“Is it necessary to have any official Dragon Club to celebrate dragons? It’s the same principle for any club,” McCrorey said.

Other students expressed concern over how the university will ensure that prospective students do not mistake ADG for typical Greek life, or that ADG has yet to specify a minimum GPA requirement even though it already has members.

In addition to the two townhall meetings, SG has also posted a survey online to gauge student opinion on the matter. Senior Patrick Brehany, vice president of SGA, said more than 400 responses have been tallied.

The survey will be available on the UD website until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Based on these results and student comments to their respective senators and at the two meetings, the Fraternity Investigatory Committee will compile a report to be circulated within SG in advance of their vote on granting ADG a charter, according to Sophomore Eugene Flynn IV, co-chair of the committee.

The vote, whether up or down, will neither establish ADG nor prevent it from being established. Though in practice, SG’s decisions generally determine whether a club will continue to exist or not at UD, the process itself leaves ample room for – and even requires – the approval of the administration.

According to the Student Organization Handbook, after an organization has been registered with the Student Activities Office for six months, its “charter will begin to travel through the governance structure.”

“This structure includes not only the student committee process but also a review by the administration which heretofore has been the purview of the dean of students,” said John Plotts, vice president of Enrollment and Student Affairs.

“However, in a case like the ADG fraternity application, ‘administration’ has taken on a broader scope largely due to the impact of the granting of a fraternity charter.

Regardless, it should be noted, as President Keefe highlighted … the president has the right to the final decision in these matters,” Plotts said.

Keefe intends to make that decision himself.

“This is not a democracy; we’re not looking for a vote. We can do surveys and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, we have a responsibility to do what’s best for the university,” Keefe said. “We’re letting the process evolve and allowing the information to rise to the top. No one’s given anyone permission to form a fraternity on campus.”

If Keefe decides against granting a charter, ADG would be required by its national leadership to disband, according to Berry.

“If we are approved, we would continue what we are doing with the colonization process,” Berry said. “We are going through the process to become a chapter and are set to receive our full charter in August at the National Conference.”

Keefe said that he is wary of rushing into a decision since a fraternity is no ordinary club and would change campus life, especially for future UD students.

“It certainly challenges the personality of the university; it would change the personality by creating a Greek Life,” Keefe said. “A fraternity, a sorority is a unique social, cultural feature which would bring to the university both strengths and weakness.”

Keefe said fraternities come with “certain baggage.”

“There’s national chapters, there’s legacies. If we decide to do this, we have to embrace the whole history and legacy and culture of the Greek Life. If we start with one fraternity,” Keefe said, “I can tell you, on the heels of that, there will be some young women who want to create a sorority. And if they have a fraternity, the next thing is they’re going to ask if they can have a floor in one of the dorms that is reserved for their fraternity. Then you end up with not enough room, or it becomes cumbersome, and they ask if they can acquire a house.

“In ‘Lake Wobegon’, the Catholic priest says to the young who got pregnant, ‘If you didn’t want to go to Chicago, you shouldn’t have gotten on the bus.’ I want to make sure that before we get on the bus, we know we’re going to Chicago. It’s not the same thing as a ping-pong club.”

Berry said that ADG is “not actively looking into housing.”

“Some ADG chapters have houses,” Berry said, but “most do not.”

Keefe emphasized that any fraternity will need to prove its unique contribution to UD before it receives his approval.

“Here’s the question that has to be answered to my satisfaction for us to enter into a Greek Life situation: what service, or what benefit would be served to the university by the creation of this that we already don’t have?” Keefe said.

“We already have a Knights of Columbus chapter; how would they be different from the Knights of Columbus? We already have a number of campus ministries: the Hearts and Hammers, the spring break trip. How would they be different? And how would they complement the university?

“From my observation, we’re doing pretty good here socially, between TGIT and Tower Village and Club Schmitz,” Keefe said. “The burden of proof rests with the fraternity.”

Ghianda Becerril contributed to the reporting of this story.

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