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Campus Council debates changes to annual review

A committee chaired by Campus Council President Anthony Vitarelli has drafted a proposal to overhaul annual review, the process by which selective living groups are evaluated on their contribution to the residential community. At Thursday's Campus Council meeting, however, the proposal was tabled when members questioned several of the suggested provisions.

The committee's main recommendations deal with incentives and expectations. Under the new plan, as currently drafted, selective living groups would receive a $1,000 incentive for an "outstanding" rating and $500 for a "good" rating. Also, instead of having to complete programming in six categories, groups would only have to fulfill four out of seven categories to achieve the minimum acceptable rating of "satisfactory." The new category would measure athletic participation.

However, obstacles remained for annual review reform after the council failed to vote on the proposal. Several members objected to the incentive system and others questioned the appeals process and the role of citizenship in evaluating groups.

"These groups already have housing on campus, so I don't think they should be rewarded for doing what they should be doing anyway," one Campus Council member said.

Even Residence Life and Housing Services Director Eddie Hull, who must sign off on any reform before it becomes official University policy, conveyed reticence about the incentive system and said he did not know where the money would come from to pay selective living groups for high ratings. Conceivably, the incentive program could cost RLHS over $20,000 annually.

Vitarelli acknowledged the complaint that groups should not need the lure of money to be good citizens, but said it was important to be realistic.

"In a perfect world, groups would be doing this," he said, "but the reality is they have no incentive right now to perform above 'satisfactory' on the current system."

Assistant Dean of Students for Greek Life Todd Adams, who has headed the annual review committee for the past two years, also said he is a "big believer" in positive incentives.

One major piece of the proposed reform would allow groups to conduct programming in either four, five or six of seven possible areas--leading to a rating of "satisfactory," "good," or "outstanding," respectively. Vitarelli said this will allow groups to fulfill categories that are germane to their purpose and skip irrelevant ones.

"The added flexibility here assists groups in achieving their own missions while not boxing them into extraneous requirements," he said. For example, cultural groups like Arts House may have very different goals than fraternities like Alpha Tau Omega, Adams noted, and should not be treated as identical.

In addition to programming in some of the seven categories, selective living groups could receive a boost from a high citizenship score. Citizenship is measured under the current annual review system but is primarily used to dock groups when members act up, Vitarelli said; under the new system, it would be used more frequently as a way to account for positive group attributes.

Other measures were suggested under the proposed new annual review that would streamline and simplify the process. For example, groups would be able to register annual review events more easily via an online database, information sessions would be held for programming chairs and results of reviews would be communicated to groups within four weeks of the submission deadline.

The composition of the annual review committee, which considers selective living groups' reports, would also change. Gone would be faculty appointees from Trinity College and Pratt School of Engineering, a Duke Student Government representative and an Undergraduate Judicial Board appointee; in their place would be a non-greek selective house representative, a West Campus residence coordinator, the sophomore class president and a West Campus faculty-in-residence. Vitarelli said the goal was to make sure the committee was comprised of representatives from the residential community. Campus Council will revisit annual review reform at its meeting next Thursday.

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