Greeks question new SEMP policy

by Grace Wyler | 11/15/06 6:00am

Some members of Greek organizations have said they see an increased effort on the part of Safety and Security to monitor SEMP policy.
by Phil Bracikowski / The Dartmouth

Executives and members in the Coed, Fraternity and Sorority system expressed frustration with the College's "keg policy" as it is outlined in the SEMP guidelines, a set of policies that were revised last spring and implemented in late September. Some members said that the current guidelines are incompatible with the social environment at Dartmouth.

"Kegs aren't allowed in the house unless you are having a party, and if the party is closed you can only have one keg," one fraternity president said. "So the problem is what do you do when you don't finish a keg? Do you just get rid of the alcohol even though there are members over 21 who paid for it?"

Multiple students belonging to CFS houses said that the change in SEMP has coincided with what they perceive as a more rigid Safety and Security department and upper-level administration.

The administration has started to cite fraternities for minor violations, such as the lack of door monitoring and wristbands for of-age members, in a way that they did not before, according to one fraternity president.

"I have definitely noticed that [Safety and Security is] looking for things and being more stringent than they have been in the past," Sigma Delta sorority President Sarah Overton '07 said. "They are more observant of SEMP policy violations."

College Proctor and Director of Safety and Security Harry Kinne was reluctant to state that there were any changes in College policy.

"Things haven't changed -- we have just asked officers to take a checklist with them and mark down violations and whether those violations were major or minor. We then pass that checklist along to the administration," Kinne said.

Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson hinted that there has been an effort to make these Safety and Security checklists more thorough, though he did not comment whether his administration was monitoring the lists more closely.

"We are asking Safety and Security to concern themselves with the health and safety of students and to record any and all violations of College policies and pass those along to the appropriate administrators," Nelson said.

Members of organizations that frequently interact with SEMP guidelines expressed growing frustration with the policies.

"There are specific rules that are hard to follow all the time," one fraternity social chair said. "I do not think that the administration has feasible policies for social events, and I think that that really perpetuates a cycle."

For instance, among several keg violations this term, both Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority and Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity were cited for violating the procedure that requires kegs to be returned by 6 p.m.

The current keg policy does not allow organizations to have kegs at members-only or "tails" events. Kegs are also not allowed in houses over interim breaks. Alumni, however, often ignore the policy, according to members of Greek organizations.

"Last spring, over alumni week, an alumnus left a keg in the basement," said D'Arcy Danychuk '08, who served as Chi Heorot fraternity's president this past summer. "There were only one or two active brothers in the house."

Heorot received a three-week probation for the violation, which was enforced at the beginning of this term, along with the fraternity's five-week probation for an unregistered semi-formal event held with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority this summer. Sigma Phi Epsilon was also cited this term for a keg violation committed by a visiting alumnus.

Organizations also argue that the limitations of the keg policy make it more difficult for members to control the distribution of alcohol -- both in the sense of who can drink from it and how much people consume.

"When you have a keg, you can control who you are giving the alcohol to, you can tell if someone is underage or too intoxicated to be drinking more," one sorority president said. "But when you have cans, anyone can take them; You have so much less control over your source."

The College has stressed, however, that the onus lies with the organization, not the policy, to make sure that alcohol is distributed in a way that is safe and legal.

"I think that students need to take some personal responsibility," Mary Liscinsky, associate dean of the College, said. "There needs to be better communication with alumni, and houses have the ability to control how many people they let in, who they serve alcohol to, and what kind of alcohol they serve."

The new SEMP policy, which took effect on Sept. 21 of this year, also allows organizations to register for tails events -- cocktail parties attended by members of organizations and their invited guests.

"Last year students told us that organizations were having tails events in a clandestine way, usually with two organizations," Deb Carney, the director of CFS, said. "They felt they were manageable and low-risk, and they spoke to us about 'what do we do to the let these events happen in a more open way?'"

Only one source of alcohol is permitted at a tails event, precluding the distribution of beer or wine later the same night.

"The problem with tails is that it forces people to drink hard alcohol," the sorority president said. "This makes them that much more dangerous, because hard alcohol is just inherently more dangerous than beer."

The majority of tails events continue to go unregistered because organizations frequently hold parties afterwards, according to one fraternity executive. Organizations cannot register two events for the same night.

The administration recently said that the SEMP policy is in need of revision.

"I am not satisfied that [SEMP] is the best or most appropriate tool that we can devise for managing the distribution of alcohol at social events in a way that best protects student safety and that best carries out our individual and collective responsibilities," Nelson wrote in a campus letter on Nov. 10.

Nelson also said he would like to engage himself, his colleagues and students in a discussion about SEMP.

"I would like to structure some conversations on campus with students about social issues on campus," he said.

The SEMP committee has been disbanded and currently there is no group or committee on campus that engages in discussion with the administration about SEMP or the alcohol policy.

"The SEMP policy needs to be addressed in some fashion," Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity President Quig Bruning '07 said. "There needs to be a dialogue on a year in, year out basis."

Several students were granted anonymity because they uniformly said they feared an adverse reaction from their organization or the College administration.