RPI Poised to Halt Fraternity Recruiting


As a graduate and a fraternity member, this is disturbing. I have know this was happening for about a week through our fraternity alumni grapevine.

There are two things to remember about fraternities at RPI:

  1. In the northeast in general they are not the exclusive clubs the way they are in the south. All races, all economic backgrounds, all levels of nerdiness can join.
  2. At an engineering U it is as much refuge as it is social center.

I am sorry for the incoming freshman if this takes hold.

(incoming freshman)

The email they sent us said there have been some issues recently. Based on your comment, is it an accurate judgement to say that this is one of those instances where the poor choices of a few are affecting everyone else?

If so, is there anything you think we can do to bring it back?

I think the pressure has to come from the alumni and the Trustees. As a student, your best strategy would be to stay out of it and keep your head down in the books. You are right about how this happens. A few incidents occur at fraternities, the administration gets embarrassed by it and they bring the hammer down on the whole institution. There was a very public rape accusation back in 2016. Some other incidents brought up by the administration (alcohol, drugs) are a complete mystery to my contacts.

You can see more issues about the administration here: https://renewrensselaer.org/about/

This website was prompted by the attempt of the president to take over the budget of the student union a couple of years ago.


More about the controversy.

As a current student, I am completely outraged by the university’s actions. Over 2000 students are currently in the Greek community that will be directly affected by this. OVER TWO THOUSAND RPI STUDENTS over the actions of one person in one fraternity are being penalized. RPI is not a crazy state school, this is affected a bunch of nerds. There’s very little hazing and rule breaking in RPI Greek Life. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it’s rare.

They’re using this as an excuse to take fraternity property (as reported in the news story). They offered fraternities millions for their properties. Once the school was denied, this happened. They did the same thing at Lehigh ten years ago - crippled Greek life and bought all the houses for dirt cheap and charged Greek students crazy money to live there.

I agree with joedoe. The key is for RPI to balance its budget on the room and board costs of lower level undergrads.


I really do not care about the stuff related to other schools. RPI’s Greek System has always had higher standards. Regarding President Jackson’s comments. First, I would like to see some evidence that the CLASS Initiative has not effected occupancy percentages. If the Greek Commons Agreement requirements are more stringent than those imposed by the Relationship Statement there is a major problem. She should also provide evidence to support her claim that: while there are several chapters with good facility maintenance practices, far too many have poor living and study conditions, and there has been a decrease in compliance with fire and safety codes. Second, the statement that in comparison to non-Greek students, data revealed that students who are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority engage in high-risk alcohol consumption three to four times more frequently lacks the required detail to be considered appropriate. There is no reference. There is no mention of RPI or across the country. Third. I recognize that the statement Greeks are overrepresented in reported cases of student sexual misconduct, associated with 47% of the reports this past spring (23% of the undergraduate population are affiliated) raises cause for alarm; the key word is “reported”. Are such incidents more likely to be reported if they occur at a Greek event? Fourth the claim that In comparison to non-Greek students, data revealed that students who are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority engage in high-risk alcohol consumption three to four times more frequently.is so vague that it has no meaning regarding RPI. There is no evidence that this blanket statement applies to the Greek system at RPI. If it is a blanket nation-wide statement it has no relevance. What is high risk alcohol consumption? What is 3-4x more frequently? No evidence is cited.

The lack of detail in President Jackson’s correspondence is not acceptable. What is more appalling is that she and by implication the Board of Trustees are willing to ignore the provisions of the Relationship Statement by applying might makes right.

@StudentsR1st RPI is yet to provide any meaningful statistics to back up their claims about Greek Life at the university. They keep citing national trends, but as RPI students and alumni we KNOW that RPI is very different than the rest of the country. RPI Greek Life is very inclusive, most Greek organizations do not haze and follow all the rules, and most Greek organizations are made of just nerdy engineering majors.

Greek organizations that are caught breaking the rules have also not been getting reasonable punishments in my opinion. They’re not harsh enough. Organizations are found guilty for rape cases, hazing, etc. and they get a one year suspension. One year does nothing. They should be four years for any hazing/Title IX cases so that everyone graduates and national organizations can reestablish their chapters with a new culture. RPI says they’re taking this issue seriously, but the judicial cases aren’t showing that - they’re like a slap on the hand.

The Greek Life Task Force released a Title IX report, but there are a lot of problems with those statistics.

A) The statistics include victims of sexual assault within Greek Life and those that are accused of sexual assault. This, again, is problematic since those that do the crime may not be from within the Greek community. If that person is from within the Greek community, it doubles the number of sexual assault cases that count as “from Greek Life.” The university has refused to give us a break down of each category. If RPI really was on it’s high horse and had so much evidence against Greek Life, they shouldn’t be afraid of releasing this data to student groups and alumni so they can start implementing policies to change the situation.

B) The statistics include sexual assaults “arising from Greek parties or organizations.” The university has not given a definition of how it records this data or what the definition means. It’s a completely arbitrary definition. The dean of students did give some examples though. For example, if someone was at a Greek party at all on a given day and then committed sexual assault or was a victim, they would be added to the Greek Life statistic even if the Greek organization had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged assault. It’s crazy.

C) The statistics only show accusations, they do not say how many were found guilty. For all we know, only 10 percent of all the cases were found guilty. RPI refuses to give the statistics on this.

So I think we can see a common trend here. Only Title IX data has been released so far and it is flawed and RPI refuses to give any more data. They keep saying it’s for legal reasons and not to make the school look bad to the press.

Adding on to that, Travis Apgar (Dean of Students) was unable to provide any statistics to justify why alumni should have to take an online course before they are allowed to interact with new members in Greek organizations. His only response was “alumni are sometimes part of the problem.”

It’s completely outrageous and an insult to the student body and alumni groups since we want these statistics to pass reforms. RPI students and alumni are heavily analytical and there is already little to no trust between alumni/students and the administration. No one involved in going to believe the school and take the situation seriously until they show that it’s a real problem. How is that supposed to happen if we have no idea what the complete story is?

Source on the statistics and quotes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEC05q1WLFA

This is one post from another thread

It is in the best financial interest of RPI and maybe even a financial necessity that RPI bankrupt the Greek System. RPI’s current leadership (administration and trustees brought this on themselves) but they need to make the Greeks suffer. Based on information from F16 Greek Enrollment, Current Tuition and Fees for RPI, and the % of auxiliary services revenue which is profit; if all Greek Housing were eliminated there would be an additional $6.4M available to RPI. The combination of banning rush and the Summer Arch would result in an additional $3.2M in 2019-20. This would result in a 50% loss of revenue for Greek organizations instead of the 15.6% expected.

What better way to eliminate competition than to bankrupt them? Based on data posted on Renew Rensselaer RPI has bond payments of $9.5M in 2018, $10M in 2019, $10.2M in 2020, and $216M in 2021. Ensuring bankruptcy by of the Greek system 2020-21 will have a significant impact the ability to make these payments and possibly make it easier for a renegotiation of the 2021 series.

Is there any way to merge these two threads?

As an RPI alumnus, I support the administration’s efforts to address the problems with Greek life.

From the linked article, RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson’s letter states: “Just recently, within our Greek system, we have experienced drug-related tragedies, alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, and instances of hazing.” It would be irresponsible not for the school to take action to address the issues. Like it or not, this type of behavior is systemic in fraternities across the nation, and organizations that tolerate this type of behavior have no place on a college campus.

This will encourage me to increase my donations to the school.

Agreed with @dadof2d
It amazes me that some students look at the Greek system as if it is an innate part of the college experience. All college is is a continuation after high school. Another 4 years to learn more things, more focused on a certain field. Greek life is actually not a right, it’s a privilege. It does not contribute to excellence in learning any more than being part of any non-official community or group at RPI. The only thing all of these scandalous debates and remarks do is at worst mar the school from greater admission rates and prestige for potential applicants who are equally naive to believe that a student needs a college to have a Greek life free of administrative rules. That’s what I’ve been noticing is a trend on these forums and on the reddit. Past graduated alumni and drop-outs are the most aggressive voices liberally and happily causing a stir about RPI and the Greek life. I’d rather stay out of these kind of arguments but I just wanted to echo dadof2d’s comment.

Any step to limit (or, better yet, eliminate) “greek” life on college campuses is OK with me. These organizations have no place in civilized society.

Muad_dib: Greek life is not for everyone, in fact as a (Greek alumnus) - I think the Greek System is strongest when there is little pressure to join. However your statement is one of ignorance, different people thrive in different environments/situations. My choice was not for everyone, but for you to say that the organization I joined has no place in civilized society; demonstrates prejudice. Prejudice means pre–judge which is the highest form of ignorance.

Reformedman: Greek life is not an innate part of the college experience, it is an option. Students should have several options to find a supportive environment which helps them thrive. Therefore the comment that “It does not contribute to excellence in learning any more than being part of any non-official community or group at RPI.” is well taken and superficial. No one has called for “Greek life free of administrative rules”. Finally, college is not simply a continuation of high school. If I misinterpreted your statement I apologize, it is difficult to bold or italicize text in this forum

dadof2d: I also support the administration’s efforts to “reform” or as I prefer to say continuously improve Greek Life. “RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson’s letter states: “Just recently, within our Greek system, we have experienced drug-related tragedies, alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, and instances of hazing.”. No details were provided. A drug-related tragedy could be one student (stupidly, but with the best of intentions) giving another student prescription pill (to help with sleep, stress, etc). Alcohol abuse could be students under 21 simply in possession. Having read the NYS Sexual Misconduct Law if the Criminal Justice System is not involved there is a problem. The definitions of hazing are so broad that they can include anything. Requiring class attendance of freshman could be considered hazing.Finally the Greeks at RPI are and have been more responsible than those at other colleges for the last 25 years if not longer.

Therefore, there is no reason why RPI’s administration could not have worked with the Greek System as they promised to do.

The loss of Greek life at RPI would be huge loss to the school. The school should think twice about this when they are trying to recruit to Troy, NY. Greek life in the north is nothing like the south and it has changed considerably since “back in the day.”

The real problem for RPI is Shirley Jackson. The alumni should step up their efforts with the Board to remove her.

This is the link to the Greek Life Task Force


Please review the documentation RPI was required to post under the Clery Act.


This report, which is required to be submitted in order for RPI to be eligible for government funding refutes the claims that crimes involving alcohol, drugs, and sex are more prevalent in the Greek System (Non-Campus
Property Any building or property owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the institution.). The report actually indicates that “On-Campus Residential Only” could learn from “Non-Campus Property”

A newer, better, more meaningful analysis – pay particular attention to the sections ‘High Risk Populations’, ‘Data Reporting’, the data on where incidents of all types are occurring, and ‘Conclusion’…: https://info.rpi.edu/greek-life-task-force/2017-2018-title-ix-summary

I read the report thoroughly. I think the solution is to work with the Greek Organizations to ensure that sexual assault/harassment is not tolerated. To those who say easier said than done - I know from experience that many members of Greek Organizations are afraid to hold members accountable because coming forward will destroy the organization. That must change. Neither live-in-advisers nor moving rush to the second term will fix this. When I attended RPI Rush lasted 8 weeks, pledging went well into the second term. I think RPI should move in that direction. A longer rush and a longer pledging period would allow both the houses and the prospective new members to get to know each other. I remember incidents of massive depledging every other year or so when a house messed up. The same was true with Rush. It is easy to try to do what others are doing, but Greek Life at RPI has always had less problems than chapters at other schools.

Finally hazing has to be better defined. It is so broad that I have been told requiring study sessions for pledges is hazing because it separates the pledges. Scavenger hunts are considered hazing without regard to what the pledges are supposed to find (campus offices, local landmarks etc). Skits are considered hazing regardless of the content.

Greek organizations need to be responsible and accountable and adaptive. They have proven over and over they resist change and fail to police their own to their own detriment. Any University that has an active traditional Greek culture is a turn off to prospective students who are interested in learning as a priority. The negatives of the entire system far outweigh the benefits to RPI. Perhaps some small portion of the system can be salvaged but Greek life is an outdated and dying concept that must be dealt with to progress as a society.