Clarifying Kappa's situation, College policy

by Dan Nelson | 11/21/06 6:00am

To the Editor:

I am writing to take issue with two statements or sentiments attributed to me in the Nov. 17 issue.

In the otherwise generally accurate article about Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority's recent disciplinary hearing ("Kappa receives social probation, not faulted for hazing violations," Nov. 17), the article inaccurately states, "Nelson acknowledged that Kappa's probation is not meant to serve as a deterrent from new violations." On the contrary, when the reporter asked if I thought the probation would be effective as a deterrent, I responded that the deterrent effect was hard to predict, and that Kappa's probation clearly wasn't effective as a deterrent before.

In other words, there is a difference between what a sanction is intended to accomplish and whether or not the intention will actually be achieved. All sanctions are intended, to some degree, to function as deterrents, but it would be a failure of any institution to rely primarily on disciplinary measures to uphold community standards.

In that same issue, the editorial ("Leadership in Limbo," Nov. 17) suggests that I am inclined to lean more heavily on alcohol policies and enforcement than is in fact the case. Wednesday's article ("Greeks question new SEMP policy," Nov. 15) correctly quoted me in saying that, "We are asking Safety and Security to concern themselves with the health and safety of students and to record any and all violations of College policies and pass those along to the appropriate administrators."

We are not relying more on the disciplinary system to address violations of alcohol policy at social events. Information about "minor violations" is indeed collected more consistently and passed on to the houses hosting the events, as well as to the administrative offices responsible for working with them to host safe events that comply with College policy and state law. The goal is not to impose more disciplinary action but rather to help those organizations take corrective action and improve their party-management procedures. Serious and repeated violations are addressed through the disciplinary system, as they always have been, with the same goal in mind.

As I stated in my recent letter to the student community, I am not at all satisfied that our current SEMP procedures are as effective as they should be in achieving their goals: promotion of health and safety, clarity and compliance with our shared legal obligations. Ultimately, those goals will not be achieved if we rely primarily on rules and regulations, as necessary as reasonable standards are. Ultimately, we will come closer to achieving those goals if students and the administration work together in a spirit of mutual honesty, trust and shared responsibility to reduce high-risk drinking and the inordinate role that excessive alcohol consumption plays in social life.