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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Freshmen officially allowed in frats this Homecoming

This year will mark the first Homecoming with no ban on first-year students attending fraternity parties. But while fraternity presidents and administrators do not foresee a major spike in '06 party attendance this Homecoming, they stressed that freshmen pose an increased risk because of their large numbers, under-age status and lack of familiarity with the Greek scene.

Last year, less than a week after Homecoming, the Greek Leadership Council voted to lift the existing ban on freshmen attending registered events at Greek houses during Fall term. Since then, it has been up to individual Greek houses to determine whether or not they are admitted into that organization's social events.

Prior to the self-imposed ban, a College-imposed rule prevented freshmen from attending Greek events during Fall term.

In terms of absolute numbers, few fraternities expect the changed rule to cause their Homecoming parties to be flooded with '06s this year.

"I don't think having freshmen is going to make a big difference," said Gamma Delta Chi fraternity President Kevin Noone '03. "It's basically going to be just like a Winter Carnival or Green Key party now."

But Sigma Nu Vice President Mike Pazos '03 said he thinks the changed attitude will make freshmen feel more welcome.

"I expect more freshmen will be coming because I feel like the frats are more inviting to them than in past years," he said.

Other presidents noted that a significant number of freshmen have managed to sneak into parties in the past.

"Students have a way of finding their way into a party no matter how tough you are at the door," Chi Heorot fraternity President John Campbell '03 said.

Trying to monitor the number of people in order to avoid creating a hazard is hard enough, Campbell said, without having to worry about filtering out freshmen.

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity President Patrick Granfield '03 agreed.

"The rule was difficult for freshmen to abide by and even more difficult for us to enforce," he said.

Many also acknowledged that whether freshmen attend parties legally or illegally, Greek organizations need to be aware that they are placing the organization at an increased risk for incident.

"It puts the organization in a more high-risk situation when there are many freshmen at a party," Assistant Dean of Residential Life Deb Carney said. "The '06s are underage, and they're new to campus, and they may not be known by some of the frats."Carney added that Homecoming is a time when the alumni of CFS houses often come back to visit and when the houses hold corporation meetings. As such, their primary focus is not usually on policing the behavior of freshmen, she said.

Furthermore, the fact that all 1,000 members of the freshmen class are simultaneously on campus, and that nearly every single one is underage increases the chance that fraternities will be punished for under-age alcohol violations, Director of Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Marcia Kelly said.

"Freshmen are sometimes more likely to be the people who come to our attention for over-indulging in alcohol," Kelly said.

Fraternity presidents said they were aware of this, but stressed that they do their best to abide by the drinking age law.

"Obviously we're not serving underage drinkers," Campbell said.

Yet, houses differed in how close a watch they keep on freshmen as opposed to upperclassmen.

"To tell you the truth, I can't really tell who the freshmen are," Noone said.

But others worry that some freshmen, who may be new to drinking, may be less likely to drink responsibly.

"I think we watch out for freshmen in particular just because we know they're less experienced around drinking," Granfield said.

Yet the fraternity presidents contacted by The Dartmouth said that it is unfair to assume automatically that freshmen can be trusted less than sophomore or juniors, who are also legally underage.

"The bottom line is , I don't think it's fair to be excluded from a party because of your class," Campbell said. "It's not fair to say that because somebody's a freshman they can't handle themselves responsibly."