Freshmen adjust to fraternity ban

by Iris Liu | 9/15/13 10:00pm

The Greek Leadership Council's new freshman policy went into effect on Aug. 30, marking the start of a six-week period when members of the Class of 2017 are barred from entering Greek houses. Although alternative programs sponsored by Collis After Dark have attracted high attendance, freshmen interviewed reported high levels of drinking in their residence halls.

GLC moderator Elliot Sanborn '14 said in an email that the Greek First-Year Safety and Risk Reduction policy was effective so far at keeping freshmen from entering Greek houses, citing compliance on behalf of Greek organizations and freshmen.

The effect of the ban on incidences of high-risk drinking and sexual assault will be more difficult to measure in the short term, but Sanborn said that initial indicators were positive. The Dartmouth College Health Improvement Project and administrators will work with the GLC to track the longer-term impact of the policy change.

The Collis Center has sponsored late-night, weekend programming to support the policy by providing alternative social spaces for freshmen, Collis Center director Eric Ramsey said in an email.

Collis After Dark will host a series of events over the term, including live music, a casino night and dance parties.

While the GLC policy and the Collis Center promote substance-free social outlets, freshmen interviewed expressed mixed feelings on the six-week ban from Greek houses.

The policy change has not deterred freshmen from consuming alcohol and may promote higher-risk drinking, Haley Woodberry '17 said.

"I don't think this is an effective way of controlling freshmen from getting Good Sammed early on, since this just forces freshmen to have more dorm parties that are more secretive and more dangerous," Woodberry said.

The smaller capacities of parties hosted in residence halls and the risk of attracting the attention of Safety and Security officers has introduced an exclusive nature to many freshman parties.

"This ban is forcing people to stay in the friend groups they first made, and it's creating an awkward, exclusive environment that's not conducive to friendships," Woodberry said.

Woodberry proposed a shorter ban lasting only two weeks, but recognized the value of establishing friend groups before being able to attend Greek events.

Other freshmen interviewed, who requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject, also said the policy is not preventing high risk drinking among first-year students. They said many freshmen have "pre-gamed" the alternative nighttime social events, a dangerous practice because students rapidly drink large quantities of hard liquor.

A female member of the Class of 2017 said she and her friends are appreciative of the nighttime activities.

"The Collis events are definitely a better alternative to just drinking in your room and sitting around," she said. "It's definitely nice that they exist, but I think we should be able to go in the frats for Homecoming."

Orientation activities have generally been well attended, Orientation Team leader Yobi Kelati '15 said.

The most popular events, such as dance parties and an a cappella showcase, attracted high turnout, and freshmen will have a variety of social options to attend during Homecoming, he said.

Another female member of the Class of 2017 said she appreciated the policy change more after she learned in the Sex Signals orientation program about the high incidence of sexual assault among first year students.

"After we learned about the statistic of sexual assaults that occur in the first six weeks of freshman year, I definitely thought it made sense," she said. "It's good to get your friends and get your bearings before you go out, so you have people who can watch out for you and take care of you."

The exclusion from Greek houses may also provide students a greater opportunity to bond as a class, she said.

The GLC policy was originally established to mitigate the risks that both freshmen and Greek houses assume in the early weeks of the fall term. Last year, Princeton University also implemented a policy prohibiting freshmen from rushing and attending Greek events, The Daily Princetonian reported.