First-year Greek house ban reaches fifth year

by Rebecca Flowers | 9/26/17 2:00am

This year marks the fifth year that the fraternity ban for first-year students has been in place. The ban forbids first-year students from entering Greek houses during the first six weeks of term, or until Homecoming, whichever is later in a given year, Greek Leadership Council accountability chair Chris Huberty ’18 said.

Although there was some initial miscommunication about the length of the ban, the ban will last for six weeks this year, Huberty said.

The ban was originally instituted by the Greek Leadership Council. The “Greek First Year Safety and Risk Reduction Policy,” as it is called in the GLC Constitution, is designed to “increase freshmen safety during the crucial first month of fall term while mitigating related risks that Greek organizations assume when hosting freshman during this time.” The policy was a student initiative that was written into the Constitution in 2013, Huberty said.

Interim director of Safety and Security Keysi Montás expressed support for the ban.

“We welcome but do not enforce it,” Montás said, because it is a policy instituted by the GLC and not a regulation by the College’s administration.

However, Montás encourages freshman students to still make Good Samaritan calls, by which students can call Safety and Security to help others with dangerous levels of intoxication or influence of drugs without repercussions to themselves, even during the ban.

The GLC enforces the ban through its Constitution, Huberty said. If any incidents of first-year students in fraternities are reported, the Greek Board of Accountability — run by Huberty — meets and determines sanctions on a case-by-case basis, Huberty said.

“In general, fraternities take it pretty seriously because the sanctions are so severe, and ’21s generally know not to go to frats,” Huberty said.

As written in the GLC constitution, if a Greek organization is found responsible for an incident violating the first-year ban, it will face a fine. The fine’s amount is determined by the severity of the offense and “should be reasonably significant,” according to the constitution.

The consequences are especially severe for repeat offenders, Huberty said. After a Greek organization’s third offense in a year, the Greek Board of Accountability can recommend College-level sanctions.

Huberty said he finds that fraternities do a good job checking students’ IDs.

“Generally I’ve found that people spend more time looking at what year you are as opposed to if you just go to Dartmouth,” Huberty said.

If, on the other hand, a first-year is found responsible by the GLC executive board, their rush privileges will be suspended until after they have completed their sophomore year, according to the constitution.

Enforcement has therefore been good in the past couple of years, Huberty said, and he said he has seen no violations thus far this term.

While the GLC Constitution emphasizes safety in the policy, Huberty cited its benefit of promoting class bonding.

“The idea is that freshmen can use the six weeks … to get to know their class more and spend some time as a freshman class, meeting people on their floor, meeting people in their house communities now,” Huberty said.

Iris Wang ’20, who experienced an eight week-long ban last year, agreed that the ban made it easier to get to know other freshmen when the social life was not dominated by the Greek scene and freshmen usually went to dorm parties instead.

“There just seems to be more meeting people in the process of the night than in regular ‘fratting,’” Wang said.

Rachel Kent ’21 agreed that the ban as well as the fact that first-years are not allowed to rush until sophomore year encourage students to engage in other extracurricular activities and communities outside of Greek life. However, she feels the issue is two-sided because students who want to drink have no alternative space in which to do that.

“For students who are wanting to drink and party, the only other alternative is dorm parties, which I would say are a bit more complicated and messy than [a frat],” Kent said.

The ban can also be helpful for the Greek organizations themselves. As a sophomore in the middle of rush, Wang thinks that the ban is “beneficial also for the houses in reducing the liability that they have,” she said.

Ultimately, opinions about the ban seem to be mixed. Kent felt that the ban was not a big deal because “we have four years here,” she said.

“I see the pros and cons of it,” Wang added. “I think that I appreciate the pros now more in hindsight, [but] at the time when I was a freshman ... experiencing the frat ban, I mostly focused on the negatives.”