Six-week fraternity and sorority ban lifted

by Aleka Kroitzsh | 10/31/19 2:05am

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First-year students can now frequent the Greek houses on Webster Avenue and around campus with the lifting of the frat ban.

by Sydney Gilman / The Dartmouth

On Monday, the six-week fraternity and sorority ban, which prohibited members of the Class of 2023 from attending most events at Greek houses, was lifted. Although first-years had access to dry events hosted by Greek organizations prior to the end of the ban, most events hosted by fraternities and certain sororities will now be open. 

The Greek Leadership Council established the frat ban in the spring of 2013, said GLC chair James Park ’20. He added that the creation of the frat ban was an attempt to address the “red zone,” the few weeks during which first-years are most likely to experience sexual assault in Greek spaces. 

“That was our way of making sure there was a better transition [and to minimize] risk,” Park said. 

He added that in the years following this decision, the frat ban evolved into having other benefits as well, including class bonding. 

Inter-Sorority Council president Kenya Jacobs ’20 said that she views the frat ban as beneficial. 

“We all think that the frat ban is a positive, mostly because of the red zone and the difficulties of adjusting to college,” Jacobs said. 

She added that the six-week duration of the frat ban can help cultivate friend groups that can be responsible for each other once first-years do enter Greek spaces.

“Things can go very poorly super quickly when there’s no one watching to make sure you’re okay,” Jacobs said.

Some first-years agree that the frat ban helped ease what can be a difficult transition into college. 

Joshua Freitag ’23 said that the frat ban allowed him to minimize distractions while easing himself into his college classes. 

“This first week’s probably going to be a little crazy,” Freitag said. “But at least this is happening later on in the term.”

Jack Shire ’23 described the time in which he was able to make friends outside of Greek spaces as effective. 

“Now, I don’t have to rely on the frats to make friends, and I’ve made friends outside of that,” he explained. “But I also think it lasted a little too long — we were getting pretty bored.” 

Although he feels content in his friendships, Shire also expressed excitement about the opportunity to branch out and meet new people now that the frat ban has ended. 

“Most of [my friends] are from [South Fayerweather Hall], and we all have the same experiences so far at Dartmouth,” Shire said.

Sophia Gawel ’22 said she believes the frat ban fosters friendships that do not center around Greek involvement, although she worries that it pushes first-years drinking into unregulated spaces, leading to “unhealthy habits.”

Elliott Tang ’21 said he is concerned that the frat ban encourages exclusivity between underclassmen and upperclassmen.

“I think there’s a paradox there, where, yes, we want to foster friendships among the new class,” Tang said. “But at the same time, we want to make them understand that Greek life is not the end-all be-all.”

Some sororities are making efforts to become more open to first-years so that fraternities are not the only social space open. Sigma Delta sorority, for example, will be open to first-years on Saturday.  

Jacobs said that the ISC was excited about the opportunity to allow a female-dominated space to be open to not just the members of its chapter, but also the larger Dartmouth community. 

“This was something that in our presidents meeting, [Sigma Delt] brought to the table and everyone was super excited about,” Jacobs said. “[We’ve been] figuring out the capacities in which every house can help, even houses that are prohibited by certain restrictions.”

Jacobs added that it is particularly important to promote the understanding that sororities also make up a large presence on this campus. She said that many people do not realize this until the rush process, which typically takes place during the fall and winter of sophomore year.

Jacobs said she hopes that this conversation about collaborative sorority spaces will continue in the terms to follow. However, she did worry about limiting accessibility to sororities, as opening the spaces could increase sorority dues.

Sigma Delt vice president Breanna Sheehan ’20 said that though Sigma Delt does have an open basement, difficulties lie in the fact that sororities generally do not operate in the same way fraternities do ­— for instance, sororities do not have students on duty and managing the doors.

Sheehan added that it is no coincidence this is happening so soon after lifting the frat ban, since first-years are potentially at risk. 

“Both as a symbolic gesture and as a functional one, we thought it would be cool to give students a space that we can control as self-identifying women,” Sheehan said.