“I’m exasperated with this unacceptably long delay”: SCOGL Report Now Six Weeks Overdue

From the top right down, Former President Nick Arbaugh, SCOGL Co-Chair and Former Vice President Patrick Custer, and SCOGL Member Marisa Balanda (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian)

From the top right down, Former President Nick Arbaugh, SCOGL Co-Chair, Former Vice President Patrick Custer, and SCOGL Member Marisa Balanda (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone involved seems to agree that the Student Senate Committee on Greek Life’s report is not done and that the process has taken longer than expected. What is less clear, though, is what is taking so long, what the current status of the report is, and when it will be released.

Nine days ago, on June 5, The Gettysburgian contacted committee co-chair Patrick Custer ’19 to ask why the report was nearly five weeks overdue and did not receive a direct answer. Then, on Thursday evening, The Gettysburgian contacted Custer again, and he said the report would be released in the fall. A few hours later, however, after it was clear The Gettysburgian intended to publish a story on the matter, the tune changed as members of the committee began to signal that the report would be finished within the next week.

Committee member Giacomo Coppola ’22, who several sources familiar with the committee’s deliberations say has emerged as the one who will take the lead in writing the remainder of the report, said in an email shortly after midnight that the committee plans to finalize the report by the end of next week, while committee co-chair Timothy Wilson ’21 told The Gettysburgian Friday morning that “[m]ost of the report has been written” and that “[t]he report is almost finished.”

It’s been more than a month, however, since any writing of the report has actually occurred, committee member Marisa Balanda ’21 said, and, privately, many of those familiar with the process say significant work remains to be done.

New Student Senate President Patrick McKenna ’20 said he expects to receive the report by the end of next week and release it to campus soon thereafter.

The Committee’s Formation and Composition

At the Oct. 30, 2018, meeting of the Gettysburg College Student Senate, then-President Nick Arbaugh ’20 announced the formation of a Student Senate Committee on Greek Life (SCOGL). Arbaugh charged the committee to “study the social environment and interactions between both constituent populations of the campus and divine ways with which to better the Gettysburg College community as a whole.”

Custer, who was Student Senate’s Vice President for the past academic year, served as the committee’s Greek-affiliated co-chair for the entirety of its duration. Randy Feeley ’21 initially served as the unaffiliated co-chair but resigned during the spring semester citing disagreements with the committee’s direction, questions about its aptitude, and a desire to focus energy on other pursuits. Since then, Wilson has been the unaffiliated co-chair.

Custer said that the committee finished its interviews with students on campus during the first week of April, but that other end-of-semester obligations prevented the panel from writing the report itself.

“I think the information we gather[ed] is valuable, we just didn’t give ourselves the necessary time on the back end,” he said. “We probably should have dedicated an entire year to this with interviews in the fall and then writing, debating and refining in the spring.”

Custer said that Feeley’s departure as co-chair, which occurred around the time the committee finished interviews, was a “bit of a distraction, but I don’t think it was a major hindrance.”

Balanda concurred that the scope of the task made it challenging to complete in a single semester.

“Producing a report addressing the state of Greek and non-Greek relations at Gettysburg is an enormous undertaking, especially for one semester,” she said Tuesday morning. “The report our committee has compiled thus far is not at a state that we are comfortable sharing with the entire campus.”

Moving Forward

Balanda indicated that she would not be involved in Senate’s future efforts around the issue of Greek life nor does she plan to continue working on the report. Custer and Joshua Getz ’19, both of whom were members of Sigma Chi and Kayla Cooper, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, graduated, which now leaves the committee with five members: Wilson, Coppola, and Cailin Casey ’20, who are not members of Greek organizations, and Charles Hagen ’20 and Katie Troy ’21, who are.

“No one has stepped forward to continue with the report this summer,” Balanda said Thursday evening.

About an hour later, though, was when sources familiar with the situation began to indicate that the timeline had been accelerated and work would resume soon. Coppola was the first to indicate a new target date for completion to be the end of next week. Next Friday, June 21, would be exactly six weeks past the original deadline.

“But what can I say? I’m exasperated with this unacceptably long delay and I’ve made that clear to the committee. This is important work, and at the end of the day it needs to be done.” – Nick Arbaugh

For his part, Arbaugh, who set the deadline to be two weeks before the end of finals so there would be time to review the report during the spring semester, called the delays exasperating and unacceptable.

“I’ve tried to take a very hands off approach to SCOGL because I want this report to reflect the opinion of a representative group of people. My only influence throughout has been to push the committee to release the report before the end of the school year. Obviously that hasn’t happened, and that’s quite unfortunate,” he said. “But what can I say? I’m exasperated with this unacceptably long delay and I’ve made that clear to the committee. This is important work, and at the end of the day it needs to be done.”

Getz concurred that the process took too long, but he expressed excitement about the prospect of the report’s forthcoming release.

“I am disappointed in how long it has taken for the report to be submitted to Senate Exec,” he said. “I am, however, excited to hear about how next semester’s campus community utilizes the findings in order to improve the campus climate.”

McKenna said he was “disappointed by the efforts of previous leaders of the committee to not conform to the original timeline,” but he pledged to work towards implementing the committee’s recommendations in the fall.

Whether that will take the form of reconstituting the ad hoc Senate Committee on Greek Life is an open question, he said.

For his part, Wilson believes that the committee should continue to exist moving forward.

“I do think that the conversations had with members of the campus community have been productive,” he said. “Different voices were able to be heard and I want more voices to be represented.”

Gauri Mangala contributed to this report.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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1 Comment

  1. Why not just pass on information gained including raw files to a reorganized successor body to continue the work in the Fall?
    Superficial deadlines imposed on divergent working body is sure mix for unacceptable result, contention.
    The fraternity system is staunchly supported by majority of alumni who extol its positive values and visions. Those views should be weighed.

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