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Columbia Spectator Staff

This year Barnard's Student Government Association voted to formally recognize Greek life after months of debate and lobbying from members of sororities. Barnard has historically not recognized Greek organizations because of the conception that they choose members on a "discriminatory basis," but after several votes SGA will fund the InterGreek Council, the three-branched Greek life governing board, and allow the IGC to post posters and request meeting space around campus. Barnard students in sororities represent 10.4 percent of the student body, but they make up half of the sorority population at Columbia. SGA voted down a resolution to formally recognize Greek life last April, but during the fall semester SGA agreed to create an internal committee to reassess the issue of sorority recognition after the IGC said it would consider a cap on Barnard enrollment in Greek life. Barnard students participated in town halls and a non-binding student poll on Greek life. According to SGA Vice President of Finance Priyata Patel, BC '11, 1,345 students—57 percent of the student body—participated in the poll. 57.1 percent voted in favor of recognition and 42.9 percent voted against. "The poll was one of the many initiatives that SGA led in order to gain student feedback on the issue," Patel said in November. "Obviously the poll has a lot of weight." In November, SGA's Representative Council voted in favor of stage-one sorority recognition, which gave IGC sorority members the right to put up fliers on Barnard's campus, hire a group adviser, and reserve space. Last month SGA voted to give the IGC stage-two recognition, which means the Panhellenic Council, InterFraternity Council and Multicultural Greek Council will receive funding from Barnard in the fall. SGA Representative Council members said they based their decisions on student feedback from the town halls and poll. Five SGA members voted against stage-one recognition on the grounds that a significant number of students voted against recognizing sororities on campus."I don't think we can discount the 577 students who voted against Greek life recognition," Megan Shannon, BC '11 and vice president of student life, said. Lauren Perrine, BC '12 and Panhellenic Council president, emphasized that additional funds were needed because of their membership growth over the last few years. Perrine said that their hope is that with stage two recognition, the Panhellenic Council can also begin to add a new sorority—a process that would need to start this summer in order to have a chapter begin operations in fall 2012. "The chapter size had become unmanageable and another chapter was desperately needed," Perrine said. Amanda Evans contributed reporting.

year in review 2011 sororities SGA