Nearly a year after the Yale College Dean’s Office increased efforts to encourage more registration among student organizations, administrators are seeing more groups register.
The number of registered organizations reached a peak of almost 450 earlier this fall, Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske said. That figure marks a significant increase from previous years, Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee Chair Allen Granzberg ’13 said, since there have never been more than 400 registered groups. Meeske said cases like the Delta Kappa Epsilon incident last fall — in which pledges of the unregistered fraternity shouted offensive chants on Old Campus — demonstrated the need for organizations to register so that the Dean’s Office can quickly contact group leaders if problems arise. Still, many groups, and fraternities in particular, are resisting the Dean’s Office’s push.
“We’re not trying to force anyone to [register], but we’re trying to encourage thinking about it,” Meeske said. “Our main interest is knowing what groups we have on campus, and who to contact about those groups if there are issues that come up.”
Yale College Dean Mary Miller said that the Dean’s Office also wants the opportunity to work with student leaders and ensure that groups share the University’s values. As part of this effort, she said the University will require that registered student groups send representatives to training sessions on sexual misconduct prevention.
To provide an incentive, Miller said administrators have made sure nonregistered groups do not receive the benefits available to registered ones, such as access to University funding and facilities and the ability to recruit at the annual freshman extracurricular bazaar. Unregistered organizations, including WYBC radio and the News, were asked to leave the bazaar this year.
Though Meeske and Miller both said they have noticed an upward trend in group registrations, they added that it is difficult to separate which organizations are newly created and which already existed but are registering for the first time. The number of registered organizations actually fell from nearly 450 to around 380 after the fall registration deadline in October, but administrators said the fluctuation happens every year since some organizations forget to renew their registration by the deadline. Granzberg said the UOFC received 275 applications for main funding this semester, 45 more than they received last fall.
Leaders of registered groups interviewed said they registered not only to take advantage of University resources but also to maintain a strong relationship with the Dean’s Office. Jonathan Yang ’13, president of the Yale Political Union, said the YPU has always registered with the Dean’s Office to keep the organization “on the radar” of the administration and ensure that it can secure classrooms for events. Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority president Rachael Styer ’12 said that she has registered the sorority for the past two years because she knows it is looked upon favorably by administrators.
“I have no problem registering, [telling the Dean’s Office] these are our officers, these are our bylaws, just so that they know who we are and what we do and what we contribute to Yale’s campus,” Styer said.
Still, Yale has a significant number of unregistered organizations — as many as 100, Meeske estimated, adding that “it is hard and time-consuming” to determine who leads these groups. This fall, when the Dean’s Office organized a round table discussion with fraternity and sorority leaders, Meeske said administrators struggled to identify their officers.
“We ended up asking student employees in our office, ‘Who do you know?’” he said. “It is crazy that our office had to do that just to find out what groups we have here.”
Still, many fraternity leaders have decided to remain unregistered. Jamey Silveira ’13, president of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, said in an interview earlier this month that registering might give administrators too much control over his group’s activities.
“If we register, and we give our names to Yale and sort of let them in and let them see what we’re doing, there’s just going to be an inherent incentive for the University to make us conform to whatever guidelines they want to set,” he said.
But Meeske said he thinks students wrongly assume that registering their organizations subjects them to extra rules. All students at Yale are responsible for adhering to the same Undergraduate Regulations, he said, whether or not they are in a registered group. He added that some groups do not feel the need to register because they do not require University funds or space on campus.
Returning organizations were required to register by the second week of October in order to be eligible for UOFC funding.