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Monday May 16th

Ongoing Issues

Greek life a topic of interest at open house

Chancellor Holden Thorp said that he will monitor the relationship between the University and the Greek system. dth/Prairie Reep
Buy Photos Chancellor Holden Thorp said that he will monitor the relationship between the University and the Greek system. dth/Prairie Reep

Chancellor Holden Thorp said Thursday that he will closely watch the relationship between campus and the Greek system to make sure both focus on academics above everything else.

“I just think that studying is so much more important than all that other stuff,” Thorp said. “We want Greek life to be safe and conducive to academic success.”

The chancellor’s first open house of the academic year gave him a forum to explain that he will make sure extracurricular activities supplement the University’s academic mission, something he said he considers in every decision he makes. That includes the University’s relationship with Greek organizations, which has been a particular focus this semester.

The death of a fraternity president, sanctions for alcohol violations against the same fraternity and the discovery of cocaine in a building associated with a fraternity has raised the profile of Greek life and substance abuse. The events caused Thorp and other administrators to re-examine their policies and relationships with the Greek community.

“Carolina is committed to having a vibrant Greek life on campus,” Thorp said to a crowd of about 40 students and administrators in the Student Union fishbowl lounge.

He added that his focus and involvement with the Greek system has increased in recent months.

Thorp said he was surprised by how much previous policies concerning the Greek organizations focused on rush protocol, such as prohibiting hazing and alcohol during those weeks. The most recent version of these policies was adopted in 2007.

Thorp said his non-Greek background allowed him to approach the situation with an open mind. He said most of his approach to dealing with the Greek system has been informed by previous chancellors.

“I’ve always stuck with what my predecessors did unless I need to change it,” he said.

Senior Jennings Carpenter, student body treasurer and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said he thought Thorp’s reactions to issues with the Greek community have been fair.

Carpenter said Thorp’s familial connections with Greek life give him perspective on the situation. Thorp’s father and brother were both members of fraternities at UNC.

“Just because he wasn’t a Greek doesn’t mean he doesn’t have ties,” Carpenter said.

While recognizing the importance of maintaining standards within the system, the chancellor noted the challenges of mandating behavior within fraternities and sororities.

Thorp said being a fraternity or sorority president must be a hard job, dealing with a large budget and numerous members. He related the job’s responsibility to running the philosophy department in size and budget.

Thorp said he doesn’t think any of the issues will be resolved overnight.

“One thing that is true for me is that I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and not have this on my plate,” Thorp said.

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