NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
by Casie Forbes
ST. GEORGE – Dixie State University officials are not wavering from their decision to deny an attempt to establish a Greek life system on campus, but a DSU student refuses to accept the institution’s decision.
Earlier this year, DSU administrators denied an application to approve a sorority club using the Greek letters Phi Beta Pi founded by DSU student Indigo Klabanoff, stating the club would not coincide with the institution’s mission. Administrators also voiced concerns that a Greek life program would hinder efforts to eliminate its “party school” reputation as it rebrands itself as a university.
Wednesday, DSU public relations director Steve Johnson reaffirmed the university’s stance. Johnson said while administrators recognize Klabanoff’s desire to start a sorority, they are not open to establishing a Greek life system at this time.
“There area lot of things we need to accomplish and other priorities that we haven’t met like (bringing in) other programs and services for the students that take priority over establishing a Greek system on this campus,” Johnson said. “(DSU Dean of Students) Del Beatty has explained the challenges that the student activities and student services (departments) would face if they establish a Greek system on this campus. We’re not in a position to do that.”
Johnson said university administrators support Klabanoff’s desire to have a club; however, she cannot use Greek letters to “pass it off as a sorority.”
Klabanoff said she has been in contact with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on a daily basis. Members of the nonprofit organization are encouraging her to continue pushing for the acceptance of the sorority.
“We did a petition on campus (on Tuesday), and we got about 200 signatures,” Klabanoff said. “(DSU) can’t just pick and choose what club names they like and don’t like because it’s freedom of expression, and it’s a constitutional right.”
Although the club is not officially affiliated with DSU, Klabanoff and the 18 other members of the club have held fundraisers and are planning a Women’s Career Conference that will feature several local female speakers.
“We are not asking for anything administrative wise,” she said. “We don’t want housing or funding. We just want a club with Greek letters.”
Jordon Sharp, DSU’s director of student involvement and leadership, said sororities and fraternities are typically associated with expensive dues, increased regulations that require “constant oversight,” and additional housing and insurance costs that DSU is not in a position to fulfill. DSU administrators have also voiced concerns of potential copyright infringement lawsuits since Phi Beta Pi since the letters already represent a medical fraternity.
Klabanoff first approached Beatty in 2012 inquiring about a possible sorority on campus; since then, she met the requirements set out by DSU’s student government. However, Klabanoff’s application for a sorority known as Phi Beta Pi was denied in a student government meeting on Aug. 20.
“I’m not here to ruffle feathers,” Klabanoff said. “I’m just here because this means something to me and many other girls. I hope they would change their minds and see this is something that so many girls want to do.”