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.
In the months since Dixie State University denied student Indigo Klabanoff’s request to start a sorority on campus, both parties have stood their ground.
DSU officials maintain they don’t want to perpetuate a “party school” image by approving a sorority and that other endeavors are a higher priority at the moment. Klabanoff says that 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.”
If DSU is concerned that a sorority will destroy the entire university’s reputation and years of accomplishments, then that is the real concern. The quality of education speaks for itself. Is Harvard known as a party school because of its Greek clubs? No. It is known for its quality in education.
We encourage DSU to focus on expanding in all areas relating to education. We 100 percent agree with administrators that such an endeavor is the highest priority. However, administrators are overlooking just how much of an impact a sorority could have on the growth of the university.
Administrators have stressed the importance of recruiting out-of-state students to attend Dixie State. One lure, in many instances, is the social aspect of a school. That isn’t something to be feared but embraced. Though St. George may not have much night life, this is one aspect of social life that Dixie could promote.
Factor in that many thousands of college-bound daughters out there have moms who once were sorority sisters, and it’s easy to see why this addition could be a real positive to the university. Another factor is it costs the school nothing. No fees would go toward what amounts to a Greek club.
So what’s the real fear in this decision by Dixie State? To be concerned about DSU becoming known as a “party school” is laughable. There are no large parties filled with drunken college students like you would see at universities in California or in the South. And there are far too few bars and other kinds of establishments to perpetuate such a myth.
Now that DSU has achieved university status, it must live up to that designation if it wants to truly thrive. That means expanding academic programs. But it also means bolstering the portfolio of experiences for students. One of those experiences could be a sorority – and the camaraderie and support that comes with such an organization.
We strongly encourage DSU officials to take into consideration student suggestions such as starting a sorority and to keep in mind both the pros and cons – not just the perceived cons. If there is no compromise between students and school officials, DSU will start to gain a lackluster reputation that could be just as damaging in the recruitment of new students as anything associated with being a “party school.”