Campus Life hosts forum on new Greek life policies

Emma Baker | News Editor

An open forum was hosted to address comments and concerns regarding the new social policy guide for event management Wednesday night.

The new policy—released earlier this week—aims to address safety and risk management concerns at Greek life social events.

Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Austin Sandoval-Sweeney and Executive Director for Campus Life Leslie Heusted hosted the forum to serve as a space to provide reasoning for new policy changes in addition to encouraging feedback on how they could best improve the policy to suit the needs of Greek members on campus.

“This is supposed to make Greek life more equitable but instead it just…further burdens the women of Greek life and gives advantages—that I think are unfair—to the men in Greek life,” sophomore Delta Gamma member Julia Greensfelder said. “They already have their own houses, they get control over who gets to drink what in it, and you know people are going to drink hard alcohol anyways, but it’s just going to be done in an unsafe way.”

Sandoval-Sweeney and Heusted first emphasized the importance of honesty when registering social events.

“We had 68 events registered last fall that were on campus [and] every single one of those was registered as dry,” Sandoval-Sweeney said. “I think it’s pretty understood that those events don’t always operationalize or often don’t operationalize in that way.”

Third-party vendors are also now required to be present at non-dry on-campus events. The fees associated with paying for bartenders as well as the cost of drinks raised concerns about the total equity cost of Greek life moving forward and the realistic safety of students who might feel compelled to drink more beforehand amongst sorority members.

“My biggest issue with this policy is that the implied problem [is] that drunk women walking into frats are the issue,” junior Delta Gamma member Celia Ernstrom said. “My issue is the sexual assault because drunk women are never the problem.”

Third-party vendors are also not permitted to serve hard alcohol. According to Sandoval-Sweeney, this new rule is meant to mitigate any potential issues at an on-campus event.

“What we particularly see at registered dry events on campus from the past is a lot of hard alcohol at those events,” Sandoval-Sweeney said. “I think on a spectrum of risk, hard alcohol is about the riskiest thing that gets introduced to the environment of our social events on campus.”

In addition to hiring bartenders, at least one security guard will be required to be at all events except those registered as dry “on campus sister/brotherhood events.”

“We are asking for one registered security guard at dry events,” Heusted said. “This is coming directly from the info we’ve heard around inability or hesitancy or problems that arise in trying to manage the entrance of parties, people become restless. And that needs to happen in order to adhere to the registered dry event policy.”

Sandoval-Sweeney specified that these security companies have external sensitivity training and students can request a female-identifying security personnel.

“We’ve been really specific with our security company in saying that this is not how we treat our students when they come in,” Sandoval-Sweeney said. “If they think someone is bringing in alcohol, their approach should be more like, ‘Would you be able to open your pocket’ or that kind of thing.”

The new requirements for on-campus social events opened questions about Greek events moving off campus.

“We’ve been clear with our expectations but there needs to be some ownership,” Sandoval-Sweeney said. “A 22-page document isn’t pushing people off campus; that’s a decision for chapters to make or not.”

Questions regarding medical amnesty and honesty were also addressed. Sandoval-Sweeney and Heusted stressed the fact that the revised strikes policies was not meant to discourage Greek members from making Emergency Support Team calls.

“You need to register your events in a truthful way and we need those events to be operationalized in that way,” Heusted said. “If events are happening that are unregistered or they’re violating our hard alcohol or any hard alcohol in cases, we are instituting a $250 fine [and/or] social probation after the first offense…but it does not apply if medical amnesty is utilized.”

Several attending members acknowledged the lack of fraternity brothers at the forum to contribute to the conversation and voiced concern that the policy didn’t include direct measures to prevent sexual assault of Greek members at social events.

“Regardless of whatever bid day is going on right now, them not being here I think shows to a lot of women in this room that these policies don’t matter to them,” Pi Beta Phi sophomore Rachel Sznajderman said. “Everything that’s going on doesn’t matter to them because at the end of the day it’s our safety that’s at-risk and not theirs.”

In response to this, junior Alpha Delta Phi member Ethan Polaski explained how all fraternities had bid voting Wednesday night.

“All fraternities have bid voting right now [and] our bid-extension is tomorrow, and they’re up all night talking about their pledge class, that’s why we’re not here. I’m missing that because I feel like there needs to be at least one person here at this meeting,” Polaski said. “I do believe that most fraternities, if not all fraternities do care about these issues. We care about keeping everyone safe and want to help this. We just weren’t able to show up at this time because we had prior commitments.”

Several students raised concerns about the questions asked about the policy after the policies were already implemented. Sandoval-Sweeney and Heusted closed the forum by asking for more feedback from students on what changes they would like to see.

“The three biggest takeaways, and I understand that the cost piece is still there as a concern, we’ll discuss that a little bit more, but if everybody across the board can just commit to pulling hard alcohol at these events, making sure that they’re registered and making sure that the call is made for those in need,” Sandoval-Sweeney said. “If we see those three things, it goes back to this priority on alcohol. You can still have a great event without hard alcohol and I want to emphasize that.”