When CU administrators invited Boulder fraternities to consider rejoining campus last year, fraternities left the conversation.
Boulder’s Interfraternity Council was out of the loop last week when, for the second year in a row, student government attempted to play middle man to fraternity-university relations. Since spring, no moves had been made toward re-affiliation, a topic that has been re-visited nearly every year since CU no longer recognized fraternities in 2006 after the death of a pledge.
It is unclear who initiated months of reorganization discussions last winter — fraternities, student government and the university all point fingers at each other — but Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Deb Coffin said CU Boulder administration is interested in continuing the conversation with the 17 fraternities in Boulder.
“We’re open to a new relationship,” Coffin said. “I don’t like to use the ‘re-affiliation’ term because it upsets the IFC.”
The fraternities, however, are not actively seeking any change in their relationship with the university, especially when student government is involved.
Marc Stine, Greek Advocate and spokesman for the Interfraternity Council, said due to zero university control, Boulder fraternities are thriving and have more than doubled recruitment. Stine called it the “McGuckin Rule,” meaning the university has as much control over fraternities as it does over McGuckin Hardware, “which is zero.”
Although re-affiliation with the university would provide no financial benefit for the fraternities, Stine said that if the university opens up the conversation again, they’ll always talk back.
“But I don’t see a seat at that table for CUSG or for McGuckin Hardware,” Stine said.
Logan Schlutz, former student government vice president of internal affairs and senior international affairs major, brought up the topic of fraternity rights to campus facilities last fall, which led to the talks of re-affiliation.
Since his term ended in the spring, Schlutz has continued to advocate for the Shoulder to Shoulder student government bill that would allow fraternities to use campus “cost centers,” buildings overseen by student government, at the student rate.
The bill passed Dec. 13, 2012, and may have opened the door on the topic, Schlutz said, but it did not explicitly mention or support re-affiliation. Schlutz added that despite the lack of any direct relation in writing, the administration – and Coffin, in particular – wanted to use Shoulder to Shoulder as a launching pad for re-affiliation.
“The negotiations that we entered in were not in regard to the bill because the administration informed us they wanted to reincorporate entirely,” Schlutz said.
Stine said the Interfraternity Council appreciated the gesture, but was appalled by the timeline and demands included in the legislation.
“The Shoulder to Shoulder bill last year said the IFC would sit down and discuss its relationship with the university,” Stine said. “The IFC said very frankly, ‘CUSG, you can’t tell us who to sit down and have conversations with.”
Stine said that just as the university has no authority over the fraternities, individually or collectively, neither does CUSG.
Whether or not it was planned, the administration’s go-to person on the reorganization was Schlutz.
“Last year, when the conversation started the CUSG students, Logan in particular told me he was the one IFC wanted to act on their behalf,” Coffin said. “They never asked for that.”
Coffin said that after Shoulder to Shoulder passed CSUG on Dec. 13, 2012, she met two or three times with Schlutz and other sponsors of the bill, but the legislation never moved forward in the administrative process.
“The next step was to invite the IFC leaders and it never happened, and I don’t know why. I never heard from them again,” Coffin said of both student government and the Interfraternity Council. “It was like radio static.”
Without approval from Chancellor DiStefano, the Chancellor’s Executive Committee, the Chancellor’s Cabinet and eventually the Board of Regents, student government legislation dies. Multiple current and past members of student government owed the sudden halt to a tight 40-minute window that the administration gave the others to meet them.
“I really don’t think that CUSG’s role is to negotiate the role between the university and IFC, but that’s what we were allowed to negotiate,” Schlutz said. “And if we were going to do that we definitely needed more than 40 minutes.”
Will Silkman, a voting member on CUSG Finance Board and a candidate for representative at large in this week’s CUSG election, said fraternity relations with the university is not a priority of the current administration. A follow-up bill to Shoulder to Shoulder passed Thursday fast-tracks last year’s bill straight to the Board of Regents for approval and acts as “cleanup” from last year, Silkman said.
“I feel it’s important that what we pass on Legislative Council gets through to campus,” said Silkman, a supporter of the original Shoulder to Shoulder bill.
The fast-track may be vetoed, though, as student government Tri-Executives Ellie Roberts, Chris Schaefbauer and Marco Dorado have made no moves to sign the bill before its Wednesday deadline. Other student government officers owed their resistance to this week’s election.
If Shoulder to Shoulder is streamlined and implemented, fraternities will remain unaffiliated with the university. For now, the only party that appears to be complacent with that is the Interfraternity Council.
“I think the university might be interested in defining a different kind of relationship than we have now,” Stine said. “But there is no thought, I think, in the administration to go back to the structure that we had prior to 2005.”
The administration’s door is always open, Coffin said.
“How do we work together to ensure safety and help our Greeks be successful?” Coffin said the answer is to reorganize.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.