The Augustana College community learned early last week that the Director of Greek Life, Katey Bignall, will be leaving her position after the 2016/2017 school year.
As stated in Marlen Gomez’s Observer article from last week, “Students react to Bignall’s departure”, Bignall is leaving because her values and the values of the college no longer align.
The Augustana administration has decided that they will be eliminating the position of Greek Life Director and will not be replacing Bignall. The administration cited this decision as being entirely due to budget cuts.
As a member of Greek Life on this campus, I, and many other students on this campus, am disappointed and saddened by this potentially harmful decision.
Members of Greek Council were informed of Director of Greek Life position elimination at their meeting last Monday. I had to opportunity to speak with Marley Marriott, a Greek Council representative for the Delta Chi Theta Sorority, and she insisted that terminating this position is a mistake.
“The fact that the school has chosen not to replace Bignall in the Director of Greek Life position says a lot about the regard they have for the Greek system, in my opinion. I think that the benefits that greek life has brought to this campus cannot be ignored,” Marriott said. “I hope that the administration considers this as we move forward next year.”
Many students are concerned about the effect that this change will have on greek life in the future. Bignall’s position is crucial to the function and efficacy of the greek groups. As it currently stands, the Director of Greek Life is one of the only accessible advocates for students that are in sororities and fraternities.
Eliminating this position will weaken communication between greek students and the administration, and could in turn harm the benefit that greek students bring to the campus community.
As Marriott explained, this decision sends a clear message to students that administration does not value greek life enough to maintain thorough communication and provide a faculty advocate. Regardless of administration intention, there will be negative effects from the decision to eliminate this position.
There is concern that without proper report and advocacy for these student groups, there are ample opportunities for miscommunication and divides between the greek groups and the administration. Without the Director of Greek Life, it will become difficult for the greek community at Augustana to thrive.
These 14 sororities and fraternities have been home for thousands of students over the years, which have forged life-long relationships, contributed to the campus culture, and volunteered countless hours to local and national charities. It is only right that we honor that and keep a designated faculty member for the greek students.
Our greek community is about serving Augustana and the greater Quad Cities area, providing students with a feeling of inclusiveness, and growing together as students, greek members, and human beings.
My college experience has been immeasurably enhanced thanks to my sorority sisters and the members of other greek groups on campus. All we ask is that administration consider the gravity of this decision and the significant potential for fallout when advocacy and communication are diminished.