Over our four years at Gonzaga University, we have participated in a plethora of experiences ranging from witnessing the first Final Four and National Championship run appearances, creating the first Hip Hop Concerts and Fall Fests in school history, attaining leadership positions in on campus organizations such as GSBA, AKSPI and Mens Club Soccer, to smaller feats such as exploring the surrounding region. However, one thing that has always bothered us was a piece written by Judi Biggs Garbuio in 2016. In this piece, she directs her attention towards Greek Life, but specifically the Kappa Sigma and Theta Chi fraternities. Much of her piece is not only wildly mis-characteristic, but also misinformed.
As members and leaders of both the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and the larger GU student body, we feel it is time to finally confront these remarks. In one of her opening paragraphs, she states that “by their very design, fraternities and sororities are restrictive as to membership,” yet conveniently fails to address that school sanctioned organizations like Setons hold similar “exclusivity” patterns. Arguably, these organizations are equally or even more exclusive due to these opportunities only being available to students in their sophomore year. Setons, for example, only admit 30 sophomores per class. In contrast, the experiences of fraternities and sororities are open to all grade levels, last all four years and have no set quotas.
Furthermore, the piece attempts to portray Greek Life, Kappa Sigma specifically, as directly in opposition to the University’s mission statement. In reality, the two are quite similar. Kappa Sigma’s four pillars are: scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship. These pillars are not only directly in accordance with the University’s mission statement, similar to the values of numerous other clubs and organizations on campus, but also foster a holistic community. GU describes itself as “an exemplary learning community that educates students for lives of leadership and service for the common good.”
As brothers of Kappa Sigma, our first responsibility is to our academic pursuits. Each brother must maintain a 2.5 minimum, but the chapter’s average GPA ranks at a 3.4 with brothers consistently placing on the Dean’s and President’s list every semester. Likewise, our graduates have gone on to work at elite companies such as the NBA, Nike, Boeing, Microsoft, received prestigious internships or have even pursued graduate school at USC and Notre Dame, amongst many others. Additionally, each member is required to complete a minimum of 25 community service hours. The chapter as a whole consistently volunteers at regional sites such as Habitat for Humanity, Union Gospel Mission and 2ndHarvest, with all three Greek organizations routinely lead in fundraising for the annual Relay for Life.
With regard to leadership, our members are also required to be in at least two other clubs or organizations on campus. Members have served as the President of Kennel Club, Class Senators within GSBA and Elections Commissioner, and are active in a plethora of on campus organizations such as AKPSI, La Raza, BSU, Hip Hop & Rap Club and Campus Kids. Some have even participated as work studies at Gonzaga’s Law School, UMEC, etc. All this demonstrates an extreme level of activity and participation in many of the long-standing institutions of GU and the Spokane community by our members, thus posing no conflict. These experiences co-exist and thrive.
Subsequently, remarks that “Spokane-area chapters are not overseen by the university and therefore, as independent organizations, have constituted themselves so that they cannot be held to the same standards of academics, student conduct behaviors, hazing, risk management or safety as the organizations recognized and supported by Gonzaga” are extremely deceptive.
The University itself has chosen to not recognize the organizations, therefore it is through their own decision that our chapters are not overseen by the University. Despite this, each of the Greek organizations report to a National Headquarters, meet & communicate with a designated Alumni Advisor to ensure all regulations are in place, and most importantly, follow strict no-hazing policies. All chapters have established academic standards which closely model the University’s and other organizations on campus, contain executive committees, judiciary boards, risk management chairs and policies which review conduct and implement punishments if members violate chapter by laws.
Therefore, it is imperative to clear up these misrepresentations. Much of the wording used in the 2016 piece is intentional so as to portray our organizations in a negative light, as having no affiliation with GU and as being autonomous to the point that no structure or regulation exists, when in fact everything described has been in place since our inception.
Whether administrative officials like it or not, they cannot deny that all current and past members of Kappa Sigma, Theta Chi and Alpha Pi Phi are students of GU making contributions in the classroom, on campus, within the Spokane community and the workforce upon graduation.
Gabriel Rivas is a senior studying political science and a member of Kappa Sigma. Written in collaboration with seniors and Kappa Sigma members Evan Watson, Luis Peraza, Tate Johnson and Michael Sasonoff.