Several community members expressed mixed reactions to the administration's response to a list of demands they submitted Oct. 1 following a controversial Sigma Chi fraternity party.
The administrators' response generally reaffirmed the status quo, while promising a few changes that directly resulted from the demands. Administrators offered to meet regularly with a group of student leaders, clarify language in the Community Standard and possibly create a task force to review registered student events. However, several demands were rejected and others were belied because administrators said that initiatives were already underway.
Student leaders said they were pleased by the offer of regular meetings, which will take place twice a semester for at least one year. Generally, they also said they were pleased with the administrators' prompt and comprehensive response.
"They agreed to have meetings with student leaders and the student body and that speaks a lot to their commitment," said Hirsh Sandesara, Diya political chair and a member of the group that produced the list of demands.
Sandra Sanchez, president of Pi Lambda Chi sorority, stressed the importance of the progress reports that the administrators said would follow each meeting. She said the reports will help promote a greater understanding of the status of the administration's initiatives.
"The students don't know about what is going on and if they have a report [the administration is] going to need to show them what is going on," she said.
Phi Beta Sigma President Jason Hendrickson wrote in an e-mail that he was happy to see that the idea of an events registration task force was taken seriously. Administrators wrote that they "would be happy" to organize the task force but that absolutely preventing offensive expression was an impossible goal.
Some students said they were pleased that administrators took the time to consider the demands. Hendrickson wrote that they showed a concern that "several students on this campus did not."
"While I could foresee a number of initiatives being 'brushed under the rug,' so to speak, with major upcoming changes to occur in the administration, I am confident that [their response is] a step in the right direction," he wrote.
Not everyone was as happy with the administration's response. Sanchez expressed overall dissatisfaction with both the letter and the general conditions that precipitated the demands.
"The response was very disappointing," she said. "They don't say anything directly, they haven't had any progress and they have nothing to show for it."
She added that the administration's ongoing initiatives to promote diversity and communication are falling short of their goals. "Why aren't they making the existing [programs] better?" she said. "[They] are not doing what they are supposed to be doing."
Sandesara agreed that the administration needs to do better with its ongoing initiatives, and said the grassroots nature of the community members' demands could lead to more successful policies.
"This has a lot better chance of succeeding," he said. "It's not just another administrative plan. It's something that originated with the student body and grew as a groundswell of support across the University."
Despite a generally favorable perception of the response, Sandesara said he and others are still looking for answers from the administration.
"We want to know, 'Are these technical problems or adaptive problems; are they deep-seeded issues or issues that we just had a misunderstanding about?'" he said.
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