Greek life first appeared on Albion’s campus back in 1905, when former student J.C. Floyd, established Delta Tau Delta at midnight. 115 years of Greek tradition is now on the line as fraternity brothers are threatened by the removal of their beloved house cooks.
This ongoing struggle between the Board of Trustees, Bon Appetit and Greek fraternity members isn’t something new, though. The same thing has happened before.
I was sifting through the Presidential Papers of former President Melvin Vulgamore when I found an announcement from a small liberal arts school in Ohio. In 1995, Denison University’s Greek fraternity brothers had been struggling against their Board of Trustees while trying to retain their houses and cooks. On April 25, 1995, the Denison Board of Trustees announced that all fraternities would be required to eat on the college meal plan catered by Bon Appetit and move out of their houses and into residential dorms.
Many of Denison’s fraternity brothers spoke out about their devastation in the university’s school paper, The Denisonian.
“The Board of Trustees has made a decision that won’t solve any problems,” said Doug Cassidy, a member of Beta Theta Pi and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president.
Other fraternity members spoke out in the article as well.
“I feel a loss of brotherhood,” said Jamie Falik, a member of Phi Delta Gamma.
25 years later, a student calls out for the end of Greek life in a Denisonian article, “Greek life: An affront to the liberal arts and Denison’s greatest sin.” Since 1995, the percentage of students involved in Greek life at Denison has dropped from 51% to 21%.
Considering that at the time of this decision in 1995 and the subsequent drop in Greek life participation, it is possible that the loss of the Fraternity kitchens and cooks could lead to that same catastrophic decrease in members at Albion.
Former president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Trevor Hill, said that his fraternity would lose between 2-10 members in the process of being moved to a meal plan.
“For every person that leaves it would raise the price for everyone else. So it could turn into a domino effect,” said Hill.“However, knowing what this house means to the guys, they probably would rather leave Albion then lose TKE forever.”
It is clear from President Vulgamore’s papers and the Denison University articles that the Board of Trustees and Bon Appetit are doing more behind closed doors than they are willing to admit.
A 1996 Pleiad article stated in reference to the Board of Trustees, saying that, “for most students, fall colors and expensive cars are the only signs of this conclave of Albion’s benevolent aristocracy. The event is neither well-publicized nor, for most students, well-noticed. We think that’s a grave mistake.”
The decision was never about Greek students strengthening their connections to non-Greek students like Leroy Wright suggested in his email. The disregard for people’s jobs, students’ welfare, and college tradition seems to be spreading. This behavior demonstrates that it has always been about Bon Appetit capitalizing on each and every student while Albion College’s Board of Trustees destroys 115 years of tradition.