There is a rule that states that freshman women are not allowed to attend any fall semester sorority events involving alcohol.
There is also a rule — a law, in fact — stating these teenage girls are not allowed to consume alcohol, period. We look the other way when that crowd hits the keg. Still, every sorority at Penn imposes the rule about female freshmen. Why are we so intent on enforcing this particular rule? It’s worth noting the regulation does not apply to boys.
I hate this rule. I hated it when I was a freshman, watching guys go to crush parties I was prohibited from attending. I hate it now, as a senior, feeling deprived of an opportunity to meet freshmen who want to scope out what sorority socializing is like before formal recruitment. I think it’s time we treat this rule like we treat many others — including the drinking age one. If we can’t get it changed, we should render it null and void by pretending it doesn’t exist.
“I’m not sure of the origins [of the rule],” said Nursing senior Meredith Bress, Penn Panhellenic Council’s vice president of recruitment. “It probably has to do with the fact that most freshmen aren’t 21.”
I always assumed this rule was a national Panhellenic one, which would explain why it’s inviolable — no one wants to get in trouble with nationals. But when I spoke to a representative from national headquarters, I discovered that while the law exists on many campuses, it’s not a national regulation. Penn can decide to remove it whenever Penn wants.
To Bress’ knowledge, no one has challenged the rule, and Panhel encourages sororities to host alcohol-free events which freshmen can attend.
But why hasn’t anyone challenged it before? All this rule does is set the false tone that sororities are exclusive, mean and less fun than fraternities.
Weird recruitment rules are usually justified by the need to prevent girls from getting hurt or developing an unfairly biased opinion of a sorority. Seeing one wasted sister might make a freshman think the whole house is full of drunks; witnessing a dance-floor makeout could lead her to deem an entire house slutty.
When I was a freshman and I couldn’t attend these events, I wasn’t biased for or against any specific house, however. Instead, I was biased against all of them. I had a sneaking suspicion that the real reason behind the regulation was that upperclassman girls didn’t want freshmen as competition for male attention at parties.
Now, as a member of a sorority on the other side of the rush process, I think the actual reason the rule hasn’t changed is the same reason no one wants class before noon — we’re lazy. No one cares about a policy that only affects half the freshman class for one semester.
Ordinarily I would agree and consider the whole thing a rite of passage. However, the fact that boys don’t have to play by these rules gives the whole situation an ugly, sort-of-sexist flavor. If freshman boys can handle the scandal of talking to upperclassman Greeks with Solo Cups in hand, there’s absolutely no reason freshman girls can’t do the same.
How is it possible that here at Penn, home to some pretty intelligent, passionate, forward-thinking women, we’re willing to accept a rule so double-standardy and anachronistic it’s better suited to an episode of Mad Men than our campus?
For sororities, spring semester rush is dry. This rule is a national one, and it’s one I completely support. Outside of the confines of recruitment, however, it would be extraordinarily beneficial for freshman girls to get to know sorority members in no-pressure social environments.
I mean, as long as the freshman girls aren’t drinking. They’re, like, 19. That would be against the rules.
Jessica Goldstein is a College senior from Berkeley Heights, N.J.. Her e-mail address is goldstein@theDP.com. Say Anything appears on alternate Wednesdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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