Frats in trouble for unregistered 'parties'

by Jeremy Skog | 11/6/01 6:00am

It's Friday night at Dartmouth. You and some of your friends head to a nearby fraternity basement to hang out and maybe play some pong, joining perhaps 40 other people in attendance. There's no D.J., no thumping music and no kegs.

Is this a party?

It may be. According to College rules, CFS houses must register as a party events with more than the size of the brotherhood or 40 people, whichever is greater, in attendance. Even if it's just a normal weekend night.

The number of events that may be registered with Safety and Security is limited and the events are then subject to inspections by officers.

The burden may be worthwhile though, as several fraternities have been tried this term for hosting unregistered social events, an occurrence that had not received much notice in the past.

The new Organizational Adjudication Committee, successor to the now-defunct CFS Judiciary Committee, has been responsible for hearing the cases.

According to Marcia Kelly, director of Undergraduate Judicial Affairs, the OAC has heard two cases since its creation at the beginning of Fall term. One concerned Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, which plead guilty to the charges, and the other concerned Alpha Delta fraternity, which was not found responsible for violating the rules. Other houses had charges that did not reach the hearing stage.

Chi Gam was accused of providing alcohol to a minor during orientation, a charge the house denied and was acquitted on, and of hosting an unregistered social event where alcohol was served. The fraternity argued that the policy is commonly violated by other houses and that it should not be punished. Chi Gam was eventually sanctioned by not being permitted to host alcoholic social events or have alcohol in common spaces until Feb. 4, 2002.

This "indicates some of the problems with the social events management system itself," said Eric Powers '02, President of the Inter-Fraternity Council and a member of The Dartmouth sports staff, who criticized the system that "allows very little latitude on the number of outsiders allowed in a house." He added that "we need to initiate an overhaul, or at least a moment of introspection."

The case of Alpha Delta may be taken as a representative example of these violations.

The violation occurred on the night of the recent Counting Crows concert in Leede Arena.

"When the concert got out at Leede, we had a huge influx of people at AD," fraternity president James Colligan '02 said. Colligan added that the alcohol supply was shut off when the people began arriving, but that Safety and Security arrived after a fight broke out.Several weeks later the house was tried for the large number of people which qualified the night as a social event. AD was eventually found "not responsible" for the event by the OAC.

Colligan said that there had been little trouble before, although AD had received some warnings about having too many people at the house. "We've complied pretty well," Colligan said.

"By their very nature, fraternities are going to see a lot of outsiders, even on nights when there's no registered social event taking place," Powers said.

Kelly said that the OAC was a new organization and is still trying to work out the judicial structure. But, she added, right now "if it looks like [a charge is] a violation of the College's Standards of Conduct, all those cases are going forward; probably going to a hearing." She added that "if people are responsible for a violation, then they'll take responsibility for it."

The events have led to some discussion within the IFC as presidents share tales and advice, although the system is not changing anything yet.

"All the presidents realize what the consequences can be," Powers said.

Colligan said that while his house will "be a little more cautious in the future," they would not start having people monitor the door on non-party nights.

He said that he tries to monitor the number of people in the house and that if the number got out of hand again, he would call Safety and Security, as per their recommendation.

Gamma Delta Chi (GDX) fraternity was also accused recently of hosting an unregistered social event and has decided to plead guilty, according to fraternity president Nathan Mitchell '02. They will meet with a Dean and not go before the OAC.