Two weeks ago, members of Delta Upsilon were busy printing up invitations and setting up the bar for the fraternity's housewarming party. But while the music was blaring, the Interfraternity Council was voting on a policy that would make DU's first keg party its last. At the IFC meeting that night, the council adopted a new "bring your own booze" alcohol policy. Citing insurance risks, the fraternity leaders prohibited all fraternities from buying alcohol with chapter funds -- a practice which has traditionally been a major draw to fraternity parties. Both administrators and IFC members have supported the BYOB policy as a way to reduce insurance risks. The change is the latest in the conservative drift of fraternity social life over the past four years, as the chapters -- in the face of pressure from the administration, fraternity alumni and national fraternity organizations -- have changed their policies, especially those concerning alcohol use. But many fraternity members say they view the policy as just another attempt by the administration to decrease the importance of fraternities on campus. Long-term Strategy? Because of the new policy, which some fraternity members said the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs masterminded, and administration efforts to bring non-Greek students to Locust Walk, members say the administration is trying to push fraternities to the sideline of campus life. Former IFC President Garrett Reisman said that he thinks President Hackney has an "overwhelming desire to change the [campus] atmosphere." He added that the administration has responded to national trends "at a much more extreme rate than it had to." But Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson said the recent rash of changes to fraternity social policy attempt to exercise caution and safe practices, and are not attempts to de-emphasize the system. "It certainly isn't part of a long-term strategy," Morrisson said last week. "I think the whole trend has been to adopt a more responsible behavior in the light of realities that very serious things can happen." "Otherwise the dangers are too great," she said. New Social Scene Both Greek and non-Greek students predict that the new, self-imposed BYOB policy will create a more tightly-knit fraternity social scene, shutting out a substantial number of students. Eric Newman, the assistant director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, said he is concerned that while fraternities will continue to spend the same amount of money on social events, the number of parties -- and the number of people who will be entertained at parties -- will decrease. (EDS NOTE ****CORRECTION - NEWMAN IS 1986 WHARTON GRAD) "The social scene will shrink in size between 60 and 70 percent," said Newman, a 1987 College graduate. "There isn't going to be a Friday night party [for everyone]." "[Party] money is only available to members and close friends of the system," he added. Reisman also predicted that the fraternity social scene will shrink and that fewer students will interact with the system. "Previously, the only way people saw the Greek system was in parties," Reisman said. "Now people will be shut out and fraternities will be seen as more elitist." And while Social Planning and Events Committee Chairperson Varsha Rao said the BYOB policy will require more campus-wide social programming, Reisman is not sure if SPEC will be enough. "I don't know what will replace the Greek system," he said. VPUL Morrisson said that the administration will evaluate whether SPEC is able to fill the space previously occupied by large-scale fraternity parties. "We will continue to see the development of efforts like SPEC to create opportunities and see how [SPEC] develops with great interest this year," Morrisson said. But Morrisson said that SPEC's funding would not increase until the administration sees how the group spent this year's allocation. Although some fraternity members are predicting a gloomy future for Greek social life because of the BYOB policy, IFC President Bret Kinsella said that it it too early to judge what effect the new policy will have on the social system. "It's going to depend on the individual chapters," Kinsella said. "It's too early to be speculating on any trends." Roots of BYOB Fraternity brothers and administrators trace the roots of the BYOB policy to the fall of 1986, when Interfraternity Alumni Council forced chapters to adopt a dry rush policy. At the time council members said that dry rush would move fraternities' emphasis away from alcohol and toward brotherhood. "In 1985 and 1986, people were asking 'What are we doing,' " OFSA's Newman said. " 'Are we selling a fraternity or a bar?' " Newman recalled a fraternity social scene radically different than the one current students know. His descriptions of rush sharply contrast the delayed, dry rush now mandated by the Interfraternity Council. "Rush started when you got to campus," Newman, a Sigma Alpha Mu brother, said last week. "When you went to rush, you were expected to get drunk." But the increasing concern for risk-management -- highlighted by the formation of the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group in 1986 -- convinced the alumni council that changes were needed. The alumni pushed for a dry rush policy so that fraternities would follow state drinking laws and so they would not use alcohol to lure freshmen into their houses. Newman said that many fraternity brothers though dry rush was "forced down fraternities' throats." Former IFC President Reisman, a sophomore during the dry rush controversy, agreed. "Dry rush was pushed on us," Reisman, a fifth-year Engineering and Wharton senior, said last week. Brothers said they didn't disagree with the policy as much as they were upset that it was forced on them. Students blocked off Locust Walk with kegs and printed up t-shirts referring to the University as "CCCPenn" in protest of the move. The students charged that the keg ban went beyond even the state laws and that administrators did not incorporate student input in formulating the new policy. Administrators countered that the move was justified because the new state regulations forced the administration to assume more responsibilites. Tensions between the administration and fraternities ran high during the two and one-half months the policy was in effect, as fraternity members tried to pressure the administration into revoking it. "It got very ugly," Reisman said, recalling one meeting in which a student stood up and asked top administrators " 'Why don't you just get the hell out of here?' " A compromise was eventually reached under which the administration agreed to allow kegs and the IFC redrafted its alcohol policy to require proof of legal drinking age. Reisman attributed the overturning of the keg ban to student initiative, but said fraternities' inability to hold up their end of the deal because of problems monitoring led to the new BYOB regulations. And Newman said that the 1988 policy was bound to be short-lived and that BYOB was inevitable. "The fact is that there were parties where we felt the policy wasn't being followed," Newman said. "They are supposed to check for 21 ID at the door, but OFSA suspected some were not checking at the bar."Comments powered by Disqus
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