A Students’ Association (SA) Government IMPACT petition calling for the University to rename the Fraternity Quad fueled debate among students last, with many in and outside Greek life arguing on social media about the proposal.
Stephen Wegman, a junior, posted the on March 23, and it was shared on multiple class year Facebook pages, encouraging students to sign.
To be recognized and reviewed by the SA President, an IMPACT petition must receive a minimum of 250 signatures. Wegman’s petition, entitled “Change the Name of the Fraternity Quad,” had 104 signatures as of Wednesday night, and has been subject to comments—positive and negative—on both the Facebook page and the Students’ Association website.
The original petition called for the University to acknowledge that, out of the nine houses situated on the Fraternity Quad, only six of the permanent residences are occupied by Greek institutions. Of the remaining houses, one is an Academic Living Center occupied by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and the final two, Drama House and Douglass Leadership House, are not Greek-affiliated organizations.
Wegman wrote further in the petition that, as a member of the Meridian Society, Meridian tour guides often fail to acknowledge the services provided to students by Douglass Leadership House and Drama House, claiming that the Fraternity Quad’s name “too easily allows our tour guides to avoid mentioning these important and unique residential houses.”
The impact post has elicited 18 comments on the Students’ Association website, with many comments dismissing the petition as impractical and disrespectful of the University’s history.
Senior Ayush Singh commented, “Given that the University regularly names buildings after the people who donate a great deal to the University, this petition seems like a slap across the face to the fraternities that devoted resources decades ago to develop and establish the houses on the fraternity quad.”
Senior Emmanuel Makaruse commented, “Cmon Mister Wegman let’s use our time more constructively.”
The petition has also evoked negative comments from the Meridian society, with senior Martin Séamus McLaughlin stating that “Every Meridian that I have heard giving tours, as well as my own, only give a cursory mention of the fraternities on the Fraternity Quad, and instead focus on the unique aspect of having non-fraternity housing.”
In response to negative comments, Wegman posted a response expressing his dismay at the backlash surrounding the petition, and apologized to any members of the community he may have offended.
“Perhaps due to a lack of foresight on my part,” Wegman wrote, “I did not expect the tremendous backlash on social media following the dissemination of my petition. At first, I was not bothered by this because I try my best to welcome discussion and the refinement of ideas; in my opinion, this is a critical process of higher education and life in general.”
Wegman also apologized to the Meridian society for “using [his] single testimony as a representation of how all tours might represent that area.”
Shortly after the initial posting, junior Juhi Desai posted another Impact petition in response, entitled “Keep the Fraternity Quad named the Fraternity Quad.” As of Wednesday night, there were 234 signatories to Desai’s petition. Desai declined to interview with the Campus Times.
Another petition, penned by senior Dylan Bleir, is titled “Just Ban all fraternities on campus” and has garnered six signatures. The description on this petition reads “lol get rekt,” and has zero comments.
In an interview, Wegman reiterated his discontent both with the petition’s negative response, as well as with the Rochester community’s ignorance of services offered through the Douglass Leadership House.
“Of all the houses on the Fraternity Quad, I have only walked out of the Douglass Leadership House knowing that I’m actively improving as a person,” Wegman said. “The ‘Kinship Quad’ would mean something different from the Fraternity Quad, but that’s not what it’s called.”
Wegman hopes that the student body will become more inclusive with time, but concedes that progressive change takes voluntary participation.
“It has to come from the student body,” Wegman said. “I talked to a professor who told me that every subsequent generation is more progressive. That doesn’t scare me, but it scares some others.”