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Monday, Jun 24, 2024

STAFF EDITORIAL Clarifying the System

Author: [no author name found]

The annual review of social and academic interest houses, now in its second year, has recently come under scrutiny following the disclosure of confidential information regarding the future of Alpha Delta Phi (ADP) to house membership by a member of Community Council. This information was given to Community Council members in an executive session report from the Council's subcommittee on social and academic interest houses. While the Council is still in the process of deciding on the status of all houses, ADP, after receiving the preliminary report from the still-anonymous Council member, grows increasingly worried about the possibility of being disbanded at the end of this semester.

This breach of confidentiality is a severe one, as executive sessions of Community Council are closed to the public. For the integrity of Community Council and the actual house review process, the Council must ensure that further discussions from closed sessions are not leaked to the public and that members recognize the implications that such leaks can have on the fledgling system. The irresponsible behavior of the Community Council member compromises the effectiveness of the review system, especially because it does not give the Council enough time to come to a decision before facing questions from the social and academic interest houses.

The breach, however, provides an opportunity for the review process to be examined and revised. The process as it exists does not adequately clarify the terms of each status that houses can be placed on. Currently, houses can be placed on permanent status, with or without stipulations for improvement, or provisional status with significant stipulations to be improved upon by the next review. For houses already on provisional status, the subcommittee can issue a recommendation "to take the appropriate steps to remove the house from provisional status to discuss ongoing problems," according to Student Government Association President Brian Elworthy '02.5 in an article in the Nov. 28, 2001 edition of The Middlebury Campus.

This is the first year that social and academic interest houses have had benchmarks on which to base future improvement, but with such vague descriptions of the terms of punishment for infractions, houses are not made aware of the consequences of what provisional status may bring. As the review process is only in its beginning stages, it can be reformatted and clarified so that all houses are knowledgeable of the nature of the levels of status, especially the possibility of being disbanded, and what such a drastic action entails.

Only then can the policies and recommendations be adhered to, as the review process would be a more serious part of each houses continuation. One possible change to the system would to implement a comprehensive point system with which to evaluate the houses, where party infractions or other areas where the subcommittee finds flaws or improvement can be given a numerical meaning and measured accordingly.

In addition to revising the review process, the houses also must take the responsibility to address the problems that they have incurred. The Council should recognize positive efforts made to address or correct previous transgressions. The disbanding of one social or academic interest house means that remaining houses would have to bare a heavier burden, something that neither the College nor Community Council should like to see.