28.7.11

CRACK DOWN ON YOUR ZOO FRATERNITY.  A DeKalb government survey of Northern Illinois University students discovers a perception that the Greek Row area is not safe, that despite evidence of higher crime rates elsewhere in the city.

The report might be no big deal if headquarters were prepared to crack down on the backward ballcap set, but one of the reports of the oh-so-imaginatively named Vision 2020 working groups proposes to enhance the student experience by inter alia working with the Greek-letter organizations.
To that end, the group was charged with benchmarking the current outof-class student experience. After early discussions with committee members, five subgroups were identified to examine those experiences: (1) intercollegiate athletics, (2) career services, (3) on-campus living, (4) recreation services, (5) and student activities. (Though technology was initially considered to be a critical part of the working group’s goals, it was dropped due to the Facilities and Environment Working Group’s consideration of technology.)

Each of the five subgroups was specifically advised to work on inspirational and aspirational goals. The inspirational goals were those that could be accomplished by optimizing and utilizing human, fiscal, and intellectual resources at the current funding level. The aspirational goals were those that could be accomplished in the future through investments, resource allocations, and a change of priorities.
Leaving aside the problem that resources cannot be optimized, although resources can be optimally allocated given an objective function and a feasible set.  The point of the exercise appears to be to identify things that can be counted and compared so as to better be able to recruit against other institutions that are presumably counting and comparing the same things.
This subgroup benchmarked student involvement in fraternities and sororities, student government, and residence hall government. Additionally, the number of service and volunteer activities performed by students was benchmarked.

In terms of student and residence hall government, NIU appears to be a leader and the goal was to maintain the current involvement. However, the subgroup believed that increased student involvement in fraternities and sororities and volunteer/service opportunities would be beneficial to both the university and its students. In particular, the subgroup recommended the development of and use for a cross-institutional database/clearinghouse to track student involvement and engagement at NIU.
From this perspective, an unsafe Greek Row becomes a source of bad numbers that other institutions can point to.  Left unsaid is whether potential students are comparing the university and its perceived competitors on the basis of big-time sports and the social scene and service learning.

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