Greeks close party door more often

by Rachel Osterman | 5/8/00 5:00am

Partly because of financial constraints and partly out of new concern for College penalties, Greek houses have been hosting fewer campus-wide parties during the past few terms.

Though the phenomenon corresponds with the Trustee Initiative's stated purpose of reducing the Greeks' dominant role, it may be adding a level of exclusivity rarely seen in the era of more frequent open events.

The recent discipline exercised over Psi Upsilon and Phi Delta Alpha fraternities, some Greek leaders said, as well as a perceived need to direct funding toward programming and co-sponsorship of activities, has discouraged many houses from holding more frequent parties.

"I think that there's an increased awareness associated with having parties and much more enforced punishment," president of Chi Heorot fraternity Jeff Davidson '01 said. "If you have infractions, like with crowds, which can easily happen, we try to limit the potential for trouble."

Along with the decline in the number of open parties from an average of roughly three per weekend to between one and two, there has been a growth in non-Greek social options, according to Mike Weir '01, who compiles the Weekend Update BlitzMail service.

"As of late there have been more smaller events, like with movies being shown on Friday and Saturday nights," he said.

Weir added that the decline in the number of open parties has not prompted houses to hold more small, closed events, although it is difficult to determine how frequently invite-only or house member only parties take place.

The precise point at which many houses adopted a more cautious approach to hosting campus-wide events remains unclear.

According to Weir, the trend became noticeable just this year.

But Mike Johnson '01, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, said it began earlier.

"I think the whole fear of getting in trouble started when President [of the College James] Wright announced that the Greek system would undergo some changes. Ever since then, fraternities have realized that their place at Dartmouth isn't set in stone," he said.

Nonetheless, not all Greek organizations have decreased the number of parties they host.

"Our house hasn't changed at all," president of Theta Delta Chi fraternity Barry Staples '01 said. "We certainly haven't been redistributing funds or anything like that."

President of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity Isaac Berniker '01 had a similar reaction. "We definitely haven't made any conscious decisions. Just every term it comes down to a matter of finance," he said.

At the same time, the question of whether the decrease in open parties has altered the College's perceived drinking culture remains ambiguous.

For certain, students have not ceased to consume alcohol, though the commitment to alternate programming provides the social options called for since discussion of the Initiative began.

"It cuts down on extracurricular activities, but at the same time it adds more,"Weir said, referring to the simultaneous decline in Greek parties and increase in other events.

"I think there's also an expectation on the entire Dartmouth campus that fraternities will continue to have open parties because there's not much else to do," president of the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council Eric Etu '01 added.