Greeks to boycott tailgate to ‘put pressure on administration and SGA’

By: Gerard Albert and Joshua Ceballos/PantherNOW Staff

 

Members of the Greek community are planning on boycotting the first tailgate of the 2018 football season in response to restrictions placed on them by the University.

Student Media was notified by our reporter Fernando Marca, a member of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, that a meeting was held at noon on Friday, Aug. 31, wherein members of the various Greek Councils discussed the possibility of not attending the tailgate on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Screenshot of email sent out to Greek organization members given to Student Media from sources within Greek Life

In an email that was screenshot and obtained by Student Media from sources inside Greek Life, sorority members were “highly encouraged” to boycott the tailgate in order to “put pressure on the administration and SGA.”

Nelson Barahona, president of the Interfraternity Council and member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, met with Student Media and said that this response comes after a series of roadblocks set up against the Greek community by the University.

A new Room Rental Agreement, signed by the presidents and comptrollers of both Student Government Councils as well as the directors of the Graham Center and the Wolfe University Center, states that members of IFC, the Multicultural Greek Council, the Panhellenic Council, and the National Panhellenic Council can no longer rent rooms on campus free of charge without registering with SGA.

The news was delivered to the council presidents in a meeting on Thursday with SGC-MMC President Jose Sirven.

“It says we have to register through the Council of Student Organizations, but to my understanding we’re not even allowed to register with CSO due to certain language in our constitutions,” said Barahona.

Phylicia Kirk, president of the National Panhellenic Council, also told Student Media that Greek organizations were not allowed to register with CSO.

Sirven, however, contradicted both Barahona and Kirk and said to Student Media that there is no law that prevents a Greek organization from registering with CSO citing other public universities in Florida, like Florida Atlantic and Florida State Universities, who allow their Greek organizations to register with their version of CSO.

Both Kirk and Barahona said that the Room Rental Agreement was not the only reason for the boycott, but it was the tipping point. They believed it added to the bad light being shed on them by the University that needed to be addressed

“It’s even worse than a roadblock…” said Kirk, “We are seeing it as administration not taking into account who it is really affecting and just trying to correct a mistake they’ve been making in the past.”

Barahona said that with the new ruling, Greek organizations and other student organizations will have to pay hundreds of dollars to rent prime spots in GC such as the GC Ballrooms, and this will make it difficult for them to orchestrate philanthropy events to raise money for their respective charities. They also cannot charge admission fees to help raise money if they were to get their rooms paid for.

Florida statute 1009.24 (10)(b) states that “The [student activity and services] fund may not benefit activities for which an admission fee is charged to students, except for student-government-association-sponsored concerts.”

The University had not been enforcing this statute for many years, according to Kirk. It would be nearly impossible for her sorority to pay these rental fees out of pocket now that they are, she said.

Sirven said that he received a commitment from President Mark B. Rosenberg and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Elizabeth Bejar that they would find funding for room reservations for philanthropic events that did not come out of the activities and services fee that students pay.

April Rodriguez, president of the Multicultural Greek Council, said she was aware of Friday’s meeting but did not attend. According to her the boycott was planned to protect the image of the Greek organizations from the negative view that the Greek pause and other issues have caused.

“We really want to work on our image so we can provide a better look for our community of how Greeks are beneficial to us and not hurting us.” said Rodriguez.

Screenshot taken from the Room_Rental_Agreement that says Greek organizations among others must register with CSO, Multifaith Council, or SOC in order to get room rentals subsidized, which sources say is impossible. 

Emily Ervolino, president of the Panhellenic council and Phi Mu member, was also invited to Friday’s meeting and believed the Greeks were trying to get over their troubled past. She cited concerns for her council members safety as well as their image as her reason for the boycott, feeling that the university is keeping a close watch on Greek organizations .

“We are just trying to work through this phase and get out of the rut that we are in,” said Ervolino, “so as Greeks we are trying not to risk doing anything that would set us back.”

There will be an open forum meeting Saturday Sept. 1 at noon in the Graham Center Room 150 for all students to voice their concerns and ask questions about Greek life and how the university and SGA are handling these issues.

We will continue to update this story as it develops.

Additional reporting done by Fernando Marca.

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