Rarely is there standing room only during Student Government meetings. But that was not the case last night.
Members of MSU’s Fraternity and Sorority Life attended the meeting in numbers to express their anger about the senate’s decision to cut their funding during the annual budget meeting. Immediately following their presentation, a former member of the Greek community who left due to concerns of bias amongst her sorority spoke to the senate.
Both presentations were in reference to comments made during the March 16 budget meeting that decided funding levels for several organizations funded by the Student Activities Fee.
The comments in question referred to accusations made against Fraternity and Sorority Life about concerns on biases against Christianity, as well as questions as to the necessity of a yearly conference attended by Fraternity and Sorority Life leaders.
Both claims were made during discussion on their budget, and in turn resulted in following the Student Allocation Committee’s recommendation of cutting their base pay by $5,000, or one third of their fee allocation.
With the viewing gallery overflowing into the hallway with supporters and members of various fraternities and sororities, Interfraternity Council President Tim Tuchek and Panhellenic Council President Lauren Wojack showcased a powerpoint presentation accusing the senate’s comments during the budget hearing as being bigoted baseless.
With the definition of “bigot” on the screen behind her, Wojack said, “The biased and baseless accusations that were directed toward the fraternity and sorority community here on campus from some of the senators here on Student Government is the exact definition of being a bigot.”
During the presentation, they spoke on the various advantages that having Fraternity and Sorority Life at MNSU has, including academic and community philanthropy.
The speakers went on to present a slideshow of all the fraternities and sororities on campus, their active members, and their philanthropic endeavors.
“Before voting, speaking on behalf of students, as representatives of the student body, aren’t you supposed to have intimate knowledge of those communities?” said Tuchek.
“The FSL community is greatly disappointed and angered by the actions of the student government at the budget meeting on March 16,” said Tuchek.
Accepting no questions, the presenters proceeded to leave the meeting room, and were followed by their supporters.
Following that presentation, ZhiZhi Patterson spoke during an open forum about her experience in Gamma Phi Beta as a BEDI Chairholder.
BEDI stands for Belonging, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and in that role, Patterson was asked to bring in a speaker for Black History Month.
According to Patterson, the speaker spoke about her experience as an African American woman who is Christian, and challenges that come with that, especially in small, predominantly white communities.
After the meeting, Patterson stated that she was confronted by fellow sorority members with concerns about the topic of Christianity.
“I personally received messages from some of the girls saying comments such as ‘As BEDI Chair, I feel it is important to be inclusive,’” said Patterson, “As an Asian American, receiving this message from caucasian girls, it really hurt me.”
Following the incident, Patterson filed a Bias Incident Report to bring light to her situation. After this experience though, she felt disheartened in the organization as a whole, and decided to drop out of her sorority.
After each of the impassioned speeches, Speaker Minahil Khan thanked them for their time. While the Fraternity and Sorority Life were displeased with their budget outcome, because it has already passed, it cannot be changed by the senate this year.
Header Photo: Tim Tuchek (left) and Lauren Wojack address the senate. (Maxwell Mayleben/The Reporter)
Write to Maxwell Mayleben at Maxwell.Mayleben@mnsu.com