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We believe that Trinity College’s administration and faculty are failing in their core mission. When President “Jimmy” Jones took over Trinity College in 2004, the school was among the top 25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges, and 9th among the nation’s most selective Liberal Arts Colleges according to US News and World Report. In 2012, Trinity College has fallen again and now ranks 38th according to US News and 89th according to Forbes, behind schools such as: Harvey Mudd College, Wabash College and Kalamazoo College.

We believe that Trinity’s recently announced Social Policy is an attempt by President Jones to distract from this long record of failure. The 26 members of the Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to the new Social Policy but our petition of over 3,600 students and alumni (and growing every day) asks that they hold an open, transparent and democratic process in order to ensure the school’s and the students’ best interests are met. We believe the Board of Trustees has been misled into adopting Jones’s proposals because they have been supplied with what appears to be biased and in some cases false information. In addition, we believe the Board of Trustees’ Charter Committee has been neither open, honest, transparent nor democratic.

Alumni for a Better Trinity believes that Trinity College is experiencing a serious, steady decline in reputation and can only return to a position as one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges if it successfully:

  • Provides a safe and secure environment for the pursuit of academic excellence
  • Preserves and builds upon the qualities and traditions that have been associated with Trinity’s success in the past
  • Embraces necessary change through truly inclusive and considerate dialogue with all stakeholders, especially the alumni and students
  • Equally respects the rights of all individuals and groups
  • Engages the national alumni to seek the best and brightest solutions, particularly in areas relating to recruiting top students, creating more active career mentoring, aggressively increasing the endowment and developing meaningful social options for all students
  • Operates in a completely open, honest, transparent and democratic manner

While the current Trinity administration and Board of Trustees believe that they are trying to operate according to these principles, we represent a large group of Alumni and students who strongly assert that the College’s best efforts have been flawed and, in some cases, biased against the very groups that have contributed in many ways to the Trinity we love and hold dear.

Our mission is to organize all Trinity College stakeholders to call for the full compliance of the administration and Trustees in support of these principles.

Comments

  1. Disagreeing Pal says:

    Trinity’s academic standing is already decreasing and its biggest draw to students lately has been its “work hard, party hard” reputation. This issue, however, is hardly as significant as the blatant feelings of mistrust the administration is giving its students. That our college seems to have no problem stripping away our rights without any representation or warning is ridiculous. I fully support this website and am glad to see the alumni care deeply about Trinity and its students. Thank you for your support

  2. Roger Knight says:

    College is a time where maturation occurs in the classroom, in the dorms, on the athletic field, within organizations, and in every experience available. It is unconcionable that the College admits failing to maintain financial and other support for a rich and varied social landscape, but moves to eliminate one of the important few outlets available. The fact that the restrictions apply only to one type of organization, one type of association is, at a minimum, discriminatory, particularly toward women. The same report that stresses women’s rights, women’s safety, women’s leadership, eliminates an important option for women to associate with other women. Adding to the discrimination is the restriction that one type of organization (Greeks) must maintain a collective 3.2 GPA average to exist. Consequently, 1) the “average” student as measured, falsely, by GPA, is being singled out and restricted from a meaningful social option, 2) 3.2, as a measure of acceptable classroom performance, has no precedent in the academic world, 3) the restriction adversely affects the kind of student that the college should covet – active in all aspects of the college (no study has been done to assess the correlation of GPA with amount of outside activities that enrich the college environment and experience in ways no less important than the classroom), 4) violates common decency of freedom of association, 5) was done without any forum for interested and affected parties to discuss recommendations from 11 people that decreed a fundamental change to a nearly 200-year old institution, 6) mandates the end of pledge education requirements, or any requirements, whatsoever, for membership, essentially turning the organizations into party and eating barns with no connection to history, brotherhood/sisterhood, and, therefore, responsibility, 7) ignores many of the strong aspects of greek life (i.e. 78% of undergraduates in greek life at Trinity have been involved in community service vs. 28% for the college as a whole), 9) is inconsistently applied furthering the accusation of discrimination – there is no justification for these restrictions on greek like and not, for example, on music groups (no more all women or all men a capella groups) or sport teams (3.2 collective GPA or end the season, and 10) in no other aspect of the College do alumni and undergraduates interact as often and as deeply as in greek organizations, becoming connected in ways that further the maturation/education of the undergraduate during his/her time at school, and enriches and reinforces the lifelong connection to the College from the alumni.

  3. John McCarthy says:

    I wish to share with you conflicting messages from President Jones on the issue of Greek life at Trinity.

    An email excerpt from President Jones sent Wednesday, October 24, 2012: “We wish to be clear that we want Greek life at Trinity College to succeed and uphold the traditions that have had a positive effect on the community.”

    From President Jones’ “A White Paper Written For The Faculty Retreat” October 2011
    “If only I had Harry Potter’s wand, I would wave it over Vernon Street and change all the fraternities and
    sororities into theme houses, with their themes chosen by the students and with their governance structures based on the above-mentioned model.” pg 31

    If Jones’ wish for the future of Greek life at Trinity is not clear please read on.

    “But I must also state clearly that it might be possible to transform the fraternities and sororities into theme houses before the end of my presidency on June 30, 2015, to allow my successor the freedom to begin his or her tenure without the considerable burden of such a potentially controversial decision on the part of the board.” pg 33

    The email President Jones sent on October 24, 2012 is explicitly contradictory to his wishes in the White Papers. The schools new restrictions on Greek organizations at Trinity will cause many to lose their charters due to the new co-education rule forcing organizations to accept members of the opposite gender. Trinity’s rules are causing Greek life at Trinity to fail, not to succeed President Jones.

    Lastly, The “Report of The Charter Committee for Building Social Community at Trinity College Prepared by the Trustees of the Charter Committee and including an Amendment by the Board of Trustees” does more than make it difficult, if not impossible, for Greek organizations to “succeed” at Trinity. This document imposes on my First Amendment Right to Peaceably Assemble in the section of the Report titled “Consequences of Failure to Meet Standards”. In this section, consequence 5 states, “Students who participate in prohibited organizations will be subject to separation from the College.” A prohibited organization, according to the Report, is any group that The College deems prohibited. So I can get kicked out of school if I want to assembly peaceably off-campus?

    There has been a long history of powerful individuals and the censorship of organizations and practices. (I learned this in college) It did not work out well for those in power. This issue cannot be ignored when only days after it’s inception the petition to “Stop the Proposed Changes to Trinity” has over 2,200 signatures. The size of the student body, according to Trinity’s Admissions webpage is 2,254. There are as many signatures on that petition as there are students at our college.

    I don’t remember seeing that many signatures on your proposed changes report.

  4. Tony Sanders, A.D. 1961 says:

    The power of the Internet is being demonstrated by this website. The wider the exposure to what the “New Social Code” says, the greater will be the recognition of (a) how outlandish it is in terms of civil liberties and influencing student behavior and (b) how unrelated and counterproductive it is to the need for a House System of residential, dining, and social facilities.
    My opinion is that Jones and the “Charter Committee” should not survive after exposing themselves as fools and charlatans. Jones has zero credibility and should resign for creating a hugely messy diversionary issue that will threaten raising money for the House System and his fanciful “Academic Village.”
    Raether is incredibly arrogant. It is clear from the attitude and responses of Raether and Jones at the meeting during Homecoming that they are not going to back down on the issue of permitting selective gender-exclusive social organizations to be recognized by or affiliated with the College. They, supported by the faculty, are dogmatically adamant that such organizations are discriminatory, prejudiced, and inconsistent with the College’s “educational mission.” If such organizations want to remain selective and gender-exclusive, they will have no choice except to go “underground” as has happened at other schools which have addressed this issue in the way Trinity has chosen to address it. Trinity certainly has the right to conduct its mission in whatever way it wants, wisely or not. What it does not have is the right to coercively infringe on the rights of students by threatening expulsion from the College if they become members of a selective gender-exclusive private social organization that conducts its affairs on privately-owned property.
    Negotiating with the “Implementation Committee” is to get drawn into the deep weeds about the many issues being discussed on this website. That’s why I advocate litigation to obtain an injunction to stop the implementation of the new social code before it is too late to undo the damage it will do to Trinity.
    Thornton G. Sanders, ‘61
    Charlottesville, VA

  5. joe says:

    College kids go to parties and drink alcohol. If they do so on Vernon Street they cause some limited damage to themselves and the feelings of the left out. Unfortunately dealing with such is part of growing up.

    The alternative is creating a sterile police state at a school that is surrounded by an ugly, poor, minority section of an ugly poor city where Trinity students stand out as targets. If the students head off campus with fake ID’s there will be a continuing parade of students picked off by violent thugs looking for cash, watches and cell phones at 2 AM. Clearly President Jones is operating in LA, LA land. Maybe he still thinks he is in Kalamazoo.

    He has failed to protect students. He has failed to protect the schools reputation. He has presided over the most dramatic drop in rankings of any school in history of college rankings. Uconn is rapidly overtaking Trinity in grades and SAT scores at a cost $35,000 less. The rest of the NESCAC has moved past Trinity as if it is standing still in a race. The average NESAC SATs are now 100 points higher than at Trinity. Connecticut College, the second lowest ranked has scores 70 points higher. Former peer schools such as Holy Cross, Bucknell and Rischmond now view Trinity in the rear view mirror.

    He deserves to be sent to an early retirement where he can go off and figure out alternative uses for his magic wand.

  6. David says:

    We all can agree that Trinity is failing to attract strong academic and socially-minded young men and women relative to alternative university and liberal arts college options. We can also agree that the value of a Trinity College BA is not what it used to be. What we do not share is similar views as to “why”. As someone who, for many years, has given extensively of their time and economic resources to Trinity (and I’m not sure how many on this site or who signed your petitions can say the same), I actually know the facts of the matter at hand: i) Trinity’s alumni, as a whole, have given woefully few dollars to build the college’s future and foster a diverse student body supported by financial aid. As a result, our endowment net of debt is merely $270 million, far less than nearly all peer schools; ii) Because we cannot provide at least some financial aid to many otherwise qualified candidates (white, black, brown and yellow alike), Trinity’s student body is less economically, socially and racially diverse and a higher percentage male than our peer schools; iii) In turn, the pool of candidates financially able to attend Trinity is, by definition, smaller than many more richly endowed colleges and comprised of less academically-excelling students; iv) Poor performing students drive Trinity’s national standing lower over time, secure less lucrative employment post-college and donate less to the school because they have less to give; and v) The cycle continues… In other words, because the school for many, many years failed to adequately fundraise and because too many alumni have failed to give generously to build the endowment (thereby failing to enhance the economic diversity of Trinity’s students), we are faced with a multi-pronged crisis: A male-dominated, excessively homogeneous student body performing at unacceptable academic levels, which, in the end, diminishes the value of a Trinity diploma.

    This does NOT have to do with our current president nor whether or not Trinity has a Greek system. Scapegoating Jimmy Jones is too easy, simpleminded and ignores Trinity’s fundamental problem: Trinity does not have any competitive advantage against peer schools! Was a vibrant The Greek system an advantage?? Really?? Give me a break! Unless Trinity is viewed by smart, socially active high school students and their parents as the best choice for college, it will die. There are already too many small liberal arts colleges in the U.S.; who in their right mind would expect parents to pay $60,000 PER YEAR to send their child to a mediocre school like Trinity?

    The issues Trinity faces in 2013 have been caused by many prior Trinity presidents’ failures to admit the school’s various flaws and to aggressively seek funding to address these issues. Further, you, a large pool of alumni, have not donated enough to keep Trinity vibrant and competitive! How else can Trinity regain its national standing as a fantastic small college at which students actually work and play hard (not just party)? We need to commit ourselves to academic excellence and give generously to the school that was a formative part of all of our lives. Please put your significant energies toward giving to Trinity, rather than angrily blaming those who give so much of their time and energy trying to save our school.

    • Robert says:

      @David, thank you for your thoughtful input and for being part of the discussion. Since you refer to facts, here are some helpful facts which come from Trinity College’s own research (for corroboration, please see David Iannella’s post on our FaceBook page on December 6, 2012 at 9:03pm):

      1) As of 2009, students transferring out of Trinity was at a 20 year low. It has recently bumped up again but the high was in 1991 at almost 10%. We understand though that lately it is climbing. Trinity has been a safety school for a long time and removing fraternities/sororities will certainly not change that any time soon, nor will removing fraternities/sororities have any meaningful effect on transfers because most of these happen in the first year, when people are not yet permitted to rush anyway.

      2) In a 2010 survey, 92% of Trinity’s female students were concerned about campus safety, perhaps this has some bearing on male vs female attendance. Trinity is a dangerous campus and women don’t want to apply to places they don’t feel safe. This is something that is eminently addressable by the administration and yet it continues to be a problem.

      3) According to a 2005 survey, Greeks are more likely to donate to Trinity than non-Greeks. If you want people to donate to Trinity, we are sure you will agree that needlessly antagonizing those who are most likely to give is a pretty dumb idea. Furthermore, doing so with a bunch of trumped-up accusations and statistics which do not stand up to scrutiny is certainly not going to impress anyone.

      4) If you feel blaming Jones is simplistic, perhaps we should look at some unbiased Trinity 3rd party assessments of the school, please keep in mind that Jones started in 2004 (and before you say it, no, the rankings are not based primarily on the size of the endowment):

      U.S. News Rankings: #22 in 2004, #38 in 2012
      Washington Monthly Rankings: #88 in 2006, #171 2010
      Forbes and Kiplinger Rankings: #58 in 2008, #96 in 2010

      Perhaps it is all the other factors which you site which are responsible for Trinity’s decline and not Jones. But consider that in 1990, when Trinity had some of its highest transfer numbers, the school was ranked #20 by U.S. News. It is under President Jones that it began this precipitous decline into mediocrity. Is President Jones responsible? It happened on his watch, so yes, he is responsible.

      If we ignore all the other factors, such as campus safety or a faculty which is ranked lower by students than any other in the NESCAC (except for Hamilton, see http://www.ratemyprofessors.com), perhaps a simple example can demonstrate how President Jones has managed the Herculean feat of sending Trinity plummeting in the school rankings. In September 2012, President Jones spent over a quarter of a million dollars on a temporary sand sculpture (a “Mandala”) which was created and then disassembled by a group of buddhist nuns. To put this remarkable amount into perspective, Trinity College’s student activities budget in 2012 was $50K. Or, to put it in simpler terms, PRESIDENT JONES SPENT 5 YEARS OF THE STUDENT ACTIVITIES BUDGET ON A TEMPORARY SAND SCULPTURE WHICH WAS ASSEMBLED AND THEN SWEPT UP WITHIN ONE MONTH.

      Perhaps you feel this is a sensible use of Trinity College donations but many of us to not. Nor do many of us believe that it is sensible for us to donate money to a school which is destroying Trinity’s 160-year old fraternity/sorority system simply because the president and a few members of the faculty ‘just don’t like them.’

      @David, thank you for your time and generosity toward Trinity College. We have no doubt that you are well-intentioned. But you are neither possessed of all the facts, nor is your interpretation of them necessarily correct. You are simply repeating what you have been told by President Jones. Or as we say here at SaveTrinity, President Jones has sold you a Mandala.

  7. David says:

    Robert

    I appreciate your information, some of which I was aware of, some which I did not know and some of which I question. Regardless, I did not intend to enter the fray regarding the school’s academic rankings under Jimmy Jones or other presidents. We all agree they are unacceptable. What I focused on were the root causes of those performance rankings. Your assertions that: i) the school is dismantling the Greek system “because the president and a few faculty just don’t like them” and ii) that I am “simply repeating what Jimmy Jones has told me” are falacious and misleading to others in your group. Many of us who sit on various Trinity boards or committees and who were members of the Greek system believe that it is essential to convey a more academically-minded approach to prospective students. We have spent the time at the college over the past decades, we have read the reports depicting Trinity’s lack of fiscal well-being, we have interviewed students and faculty for input on the state of the school. Simply put, we are informed with real, primary data, not rhetoric. All of us (including those of us, such as I, who were members of fraternaties and sororities) should face the fact that the Greek system is outdated and irrelevant to most high performing, liberal arts-education-seeking high school students.

    The great news is that you and others in this group genuinely care about Trinity. The bad news is that you seem to be ignoring the root causes of our school’s current demise. Please know that I don’t dismiss the other issues you raise as being irrelevant, but they simply pale in comparison to the deeply problematic concerns I raised in yesterday’s posting. If at all possible, please try to think beyond the current president and focus on the life of Trinity as an institution. Remember, you can designate your donations to financial aid, which will directly help the school broaden and deepen its student body. Hopefully, we can all agree that has the best chance of helping Trinity survive (and eventually thrive) for another hundred years!

  8. James says:

    With all due respect, I do not believe that the “Greek system is outdated and irrelevant to most high performing, liberal arts-education-seeking high school students” who attend:

    (1) Harvard
    (2) Yale
    (3) Princeton
    (4) Columbia
    (5) Dartmouth
    (6) Penn
    (7) Cornell
    (8) Brown
    (9) Stanford
    (10) Emory
    (11) Wesleyan
    (12) Tufts
    (13) Duke
    (14) MIT
    (15) NYU
    (16) Virginia
    (17) North Carolina
    (18) Cal
    (19) Washington University
    (20) Michigan
    (21) Emory
    (22) Vanderbilt
    (23) Texas
    (24) Chicago
    (25) Davidson
    (26) Washington & Lee
    (27) Sewanee
    (28) Union
    (29) Hamilton
    (30) Colgate

    and

    Trinity

    Thanks.

    • RH Coleman says:

      Great point here. This certainly shows that many of the finest, most intellectually rigorous schools in the country incorporate greek life.

  9. Remy says:

    I just thought I’d point out that part of the precipitous drop in U.S. News ranking relates to Trinity’s joining the Anapolis Group meaning they’ve refused to formally participate in the survey. Missing data will clearly hurt the school’s standing by U.S. News’ standards regardless of the actual quality of the institution. Just look at the frequent ranking of Reed College in Oregon, and most people would consider that to be a superior school to Trinity.

    Also, applications to Trinity have skyrocketed in the past couple of years. For the most recent class Trinity has had the largest increase in applications of just about any school in the nation. I graduated in 2010, and for my class the acceptance rate was in the low forties I believe. Now it’s in the low thirties. Trinity may have experienced a lull the second half of the noughties, but it’s on the upswing.

    Lastly, despite the oscillation in ranking average SAT scores have pretty much remained the same since 2004. The 25th percentile for CR is 590, and it’s 600 for math. That’s essentially what it was when it was in the top 25 back then.

  10. Remy says:

    With that said, Colgate appears to be the only top tier liberal arts college that’s managed to maintain a well-established Greek system without compromising its integrity as an institution. Trinity certainly hasn’t wholly succeeded in that regard, and maybe they never will. Only time will tell, but Colgate’s certainly do something right that Trinity isn’t. Most likely, they’re securing better funding from alumni. Amherst abolished their Greek organizations and they’re hardly struggling to survive. Trinity may not be Amherst, but it certainly fancies itself the academic equal of schools such as Colgate and Bates to which it’s clearly inferior, despite the glowingly positive nature of my previous post.

  11. Robert says:

    Dear All,
    Please see the Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/groups/254745931302865/) for a letter we just received from PIKE’s national fraternity to President Jimmy Jones. This letter makes it perfectly clear that Trinity College’s new “Social Policy” is in violation of:

    1. The United States Constitution
    2. The Connecticut State Constitution
    3. Trinity College’s own Charter
    4. Trinity College’s Statutes and Standing Rules of the Board of Trustees
    5. Trinity College’s own Integrity Contract

    If this is the case, then conceivably, potentially any student who abides by the new Social Policy is not only violating state and federal law but also risks violating Trinity College’s Charter and its Integrity Contract and could therefore be subject to expulsion.

    Remarkable.

  12. Biff Maddock says:

    Since choosing, paying for and having pride in a liberal arts college is similar to the process of choosing, paying for and having pride in a consumer product, Trinity might be wise to undertake a valid strategic planning process that:

    –Gathers meaningful, implementable information from stakeholders
    –Identifies its value proposition vis-à-vis competitors, including alternate career paths
    –Uses the skills of outside, unbiased experts rather than assuming that the staff and faculty are smart, knowledgeable and available
    –Creates an action-oriented plan with the guts enough to fail in certain areas while making giant strides in others
    –Positions Trinity as unique and desirable (location in Hartford is no longer Trinity’s “hook”)

    While the administration continues to blame fraternities and sororities for Trinity’s precipitous fall, the real cause lies in the misunderstanding that parity in price equals parity in value and ,yes, prestige.

  13. Art judge '59 says:

    I have signed the petition even though I was not a memember of a fraternity at Trinity. I support the rights of those who wish to do. There has to be a solution that is sensitive and respectful to all. In my opinión, Pres. Jones is dead in the water and should resign over the summer. I think that any lawsuit is contropriductive to all.
    Thanks for reading this.

  14. Rachel says:

    I LOVE TRINITY!!!

  15. Dana says:

    Really guys…? If this is your number one cause in life to fight right now, then you absolutely have too much time on your hands. A little perspective, people. Come on. Go take a pottery class.

  16. Robert Bibow says:

    All of the lawyers and other professionals who work pro bono for the Foundation for Student Freedom of Association are active professionals and none of us have spare time on our hands. We all volunteer to take time out of our busy schedules because each of us fundamentally believes that fighting for people’s constitutional rights is important. Perhaps you have different values but that is your choice. Enjoy your pottery.

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