Greek life opposes proposed ban bill

Members of Tennessee Tech’s Greek life came together in a written resolution opposing a state bill banning fraternities and sororities in Tennessee.

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, originally proposed the bill in the House of Representatives and Sen. Reggie Tate, D-Memphis, is the co-sponsor. HB 2042 would only ban organizations of a social nature.

According to DeBerry, he proposed the bill in light of several cases of hazing, underage drinking, and sexual assault have come against organizations across the country over the past several years. The bill would eliminate all organizations on July 1, 2018.

The bill has been given national attention from publications such as TIME magazine and Cosmopolitan magazine. Six national organizations, who represent nearly every Greek organization in the country, put out a joint statement of opposition to the bill.

Other Tennessee universities are speaking out about this as well, according to their university newspapers. Members of the University of Tennessee’s governor relations met with DeBerry in order to discuss the bill and other alternatives to solving these issues, and the Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Memphis, Darrel Ray, put out an official statement against banning Greek life.

Tennessee Tech is currently the only university to present a written resolution about the bill to the Tennessee General Assembly, as far as Preston George, who wrote the resolution, knows. George is a SGA freshman senator and a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma at Tennessee Tech. Katelynn Cammack, a senator of the College of Agriculture and a member of Delta Phi Epsilon at Tech, helped him present the resolution to organizations around campus and to SGA.

 “We know how much positivity the Greek Life brings not only to the university itself, but to the community around it,” George said.

His resolution cites all of the good things Tech’s Greek life does, such as raising over $131,000 for local and national charities in 2016. All the organizations signed the resolution, except for Kappa Delta and Alpha Delta Pi, who were prohibited from signing according to their national bylaws.

Cammack said Tech’s campus will be negatively affected by the loss of Greek Life. According to her, 78 percent of members of Greek life participate in other organizations on campus, and 13 percent hold leadership positions.

“We try not to only show support for our charities, but we also want to build leaders, and give them the success they need to go through with their career,” she said.

George also said Greek life is a great way for freshmen to be integrated into campus and to have a support system, and Greek life has become a home away from home for many of its members.

According to Cammack, people say they chose to come to Tennessee Tech specifically because of Greek life. Legacies, students who have parents who have been in Greek organizations, are common and they want to be in the same organizations. She said whether an organization is at a school can often affect their decision to attend. Incoming freshman may decide to attend an out of state school in order to participate in Greek life, Cammack said.

George emphasized he intends to personally see the resolution through to the state government. He wants to personally read the resolution to the members of the Education Administration and Planning committee who are currently assigned to the bill.

“This is not just something that’s just gonna be thrown away, something that we did to make ourselves feel good, this is something that is going to be given to those members to show that Tennessee Tech does not stand for this bill,” He said.

Cammack said the best thing students on Tech’s campus can do is to bring up the positives of Greek life. The media often brings up the negative aspects of these organizations, but people need to know what Greek life has to offer campuses and why it should not be banned, she said. George said it is important to call representatives to let them know there is opposition to the bill. 

The bill currently is not on the calendar for the Tennessee General Assembly, but George said it is expected to be soon. The General Assembly meets this session until late April or May.