Opinion | Staff Editorials

Routinely review 114th

Last Friday, Dean Kevin Shollenberger announced that the three brownstones previously occupied by Psi Upsilon, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Alpha Epsilon Pi would be given to Q House, Alpha Chi Omega, and Lambda Phi Epsilon. The announcement ends a long and very public selection process, a process that provoked a dialogue on the brownstones’ importance to campus groups and the potential ways for them to contribute to this community. Regardless of one’s opinions on the decision, this process has also provoked further questions about the true responsibilities of brownstone occupants and the degree to which these responsibilities should be regulated by the University.

In the past, most groups with brownstones have retained them for years and only lost them because of major rule violations. Dean Shollenberger’s email on Friday seems to indicate that this won’t be the case for these three groups—according to the email, the housing contracts are offered "for the upcoming year." We are in favor of this decision, as it prevents any group from having a perpetual claim on the brownstones. But we’re also in favor of extending the principle: All brownstone groups should be subject to review on a regular basis. Conducting a review would be a fair way to ensure that such spaces are used in ways that benefit students.

Having full access to a brownstone, especially at a school so short on space for student activities, shouldn’t be a right that is “won” once and re-evaluated only in moments of serious policy violations. While putting together a winning proposal was certainly no small feat, the real work for AXO, Lambda, and Q House lies in their future planning and not in their past accomplishments. The three will rightly be subject to close scrutiny over the next few semesters, and we hope they will live up to their promises to support both their own communities and the general student body. Routine reviews of these three organizations ought to become a model, increasing the accountability of all groups residing in current and future brownstones in order to ensure they are living up to the community’s expectations.

Routine reviews also, no doubt, mean that ownership of brownstones may become much more fluid, with groups cycling in and out based on whether or not they can live up to the community’s expectations. Such a process would allow the community to come together to hammer out clear guidelines for groups living in brownstones (something that has been noticeably absent from this committee’s public record). A regularly scheduled, structured review with an evaluation of the group’s past actions would encourage other groups to join in and ensure that all Columbians have the opportunity to benefit from the communities on 114th Street.

To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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Anonymous posted on

AGREED. Nothing more to say about it.

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Anonymous posted on

This is not a novel idea. The longest period of time that a Greek brownstone can go without an official housing review is three years with many houses being reviewed yearly. Such oversight exists, and I would encourage the editorial board to contact residential programs to learn more about existing policy and procedure before leading the community to believe that Greek organizations can just sit on brownstones indefinitely. However, the review policy (in combination with ALPHA Standards) only serve to regulate Greek organizations. What would be interesting to know is how this kind of policy will be applied to non-Greek brownstones.

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Anonymous posted on

Let's be honest here. Although Greek communities occupying brownstones may technically have mandated reviews every few years, none of them will ever be kicked out unless they commit serious violations (case in point: the many parties that get broken up and reviewed before the Greek judicial board every few months). Acting as though the current review process is in any way similar to the one suggested in terms of both stringency and consequences, is simply disingenuous. It's not oversight if there's no real teeth behind it.

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Anonymous posted on

Yeah! Columbia just shouldn't have loud parties at all! That's not what college is about at all - Kick em all out!

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