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Alcohol at Penn: Change for the better?Alcohol at Penn: Change for the better?Tragedy was a wake-up call for Greeks. For a number of years, the national Greek community has found itself the object of great scrutiny due to a series of highly sensational and problematic events at different colleges across the country. The effects that this tragedy have had on the entire Penn community have been tremendous, and perhaps no group has felt the effects more than the Greeks. The immediate response to this event was a temporary alcohol ban, which caused uproar and activism among the students on a level which had not been seen since the 1960s. Over the course of the five-week ban, both students and administrators worked together to find an agreeable compromise, and they came up with our alcohol policy. To Greeks, the policy represents more than new regulation of parties on campus; it is a sign of the leadership positions Greeks have taken on the "alcohol issue" at Penn. The "alcohol issue" I mention above is all of the efforts that have been made at Penn to make sure that tragedy does not befall another member of the Penn community. Michael Tobin's death has prompted these efforts, and the groups involved include faculty, staff, administrators and students. The group that has exacted the most change from these efforts so far, however, is the Greeks. As an involved member of the Greek community, I can say that we have learned a lot about ourselves in light of last spring's events. We now know that our voice is one that the University wants to hear when it comes to alcohol issues. Every task force, committee and working group that deals with alcohol includes Greeks as members. The Greek community is now in constant contact with the Offices of Health Education and the Vice Provost for University Life, a definite change from earlier times. We have learned that the administration is not out to get us but wants to work with us, even letting us provide ideas of compromise when one of our houses runs into trouble. The most important lesson we have learned, though, has been what our limitations are. We are not invincible and we will have to join the national trends of change if we want to continue to thrive for another 150 years. The loss of Michael Tobin has served as a painful wake-up call to Penn Greeks that we are by no means immune to the problems that other schools have faced. The leadership in the Greek community knows that changes have to be made to ensure our survival. We will have to do more than hold STAAR/DART workshops and TIPS training. We must add to our current programming to make us even stronger on all alcohol issues. Being Greek means a great deal to roughly 30 percent of Penn students, enough for us to make the necessary effort to emerge from this tragedy an even stronger group than before. One year later, we are well on our way.

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