There can be little denial that Union’s administration has been increasing the pressure on the school’s Greek houses, likely in hopes of distancing the college from the “party school” reputation that it has garnered over the years.
This has taken the form of meting out disproportionately greater punishments against fraternities, which frequently result in a suspension of the houses’ abilities to host social events.
I would like to invite the campus community to consider a likely consequence of the recent decrease in weekend social events hosted at on-campus fraternity houses that has occurred as a result of this new policy of greater rigidity and punishment.
As Union slips into Spring term, the number of students who are transported to Ellis hospital for alcohol-related incidents will rise to unprecedented heights.
Let me begin to present this argument at its root: when people are transported, it is not from drinking just beer. I don’t have access to the school’s data on this and I am sure transported students are not always honest about the events leading up to their hospitalization, but I believe that the data would support this assertion.
I’m unashamed to say that I am a beer lover: but in my eyes, one of the drink’s best qualities is that it takes up so much space in my stomach. I know that if all I drink over the course of a night of partying is beer, I will be able to keep my wits about me.
The same is not true for hard liquor and especially mixed drinks. It is all too easy, as most who read this will likely have experienced, to wind up in a drunken stupor.
So, when, in the night, do people drink liquor?
Not at the fraternities – Union’s strict policies against the service of liquor at all social events has been successful in keeping on-campus fraternity parties clean of passed-around handles and coolers of punch.
Even at the off-campus houses, the hosts of those events are smart enough to know that guests are unpredictable and often ungrateful, and certainly not above stealing an unguarded bottle.
No, people drink liquor to pregame especially in dorms where if the wrong RA were to spot an unhidden empty beer can, conduct charges could be filed. It’s the perfect subtle transgression of the rules. Liquor is easier to transport unseen or unnoticed, easier to transport to inauspicious containers and carry in full view. It is also easier to hide in a small room. It doesn’t require being kept cold, and is quicker and easier to get drunk on, the inherent cause of all this trouble.
While it’s true that some people may take themselves to dangerous levels of intoxication at that early point in the night, in general that is not the real danger.
Imagine a student who pregames in a down-campus dorm, becomes mildly intoxicated and heads out for the night with his friends. It’s the spring, the night feels alive and full of possibilities, and the group is determined to find a party.
After being turned away from one threshold, they arrive at a house where a member of the group knows someone at the door, and go inside. In all likelihood, they won’t drink at this event: even if they’re of age, the beer bought for the mixer that preceded the party’s opening is likely long gone, but they’re not there to drink, they’re there to socialize.
Everyone has fun, then goes home when the party closes and goes to sleep safely.
Now let’s take that story from the point where the group leaves the dorms and make it a bit more realistic to the current state of the campus.
In all likelihood, there are only one or two parties open that night on-campus: when the group arrives at the first, the house is already at its capacity, and when they arrive at the second, they find it quiet, the fraternity brothers having decided opening up to the school was not worth the risk of unwanted attention from campus safety.
Frustrated, the group heads off-campus, but encounter similar problems, only making it into one party which is so crowded that they leave soon after.
To anyone who takes advantage of Union’s night life, this should not be an unfamiliar scenario so far.
Frustrated and now sobering up, the group heads back to their dormitory, where an unfinished bottle of some pungent clear liquid is still waiting. This is the cause of many of the transports – students return to their rooms frustrated but still wide awake, and hit the bottle again.
I would wager that most transports take place well after midnight, not from the houses that host parties, but rather from students’ own dorms. For what they’re worth, my own mere observations would support the claim.
And just to belabor the point, this doesn’t happen when the students just got into a good- sized, well-managed event in the first place. Even if they did drink at the event, it was only beer, posing a substantially lower risk than the alternative.
That is what a correctly-run on-campus party looks like, and especially with consideration of the school’s “Good Samaritan” policies and requirement that hosts of on-campus events provide food and water for attendees.
It should be no great leap of faith to say that if a student begins a night with the intention of partying, a registered social event at a campus fraternity house is the safest place for them to do so.
As the number of organizations which can host parties week-to-week is reduced, so the risk to those who would attend the events is enlarged.
If it is truly Union’s goal to work toward the best experience for its students, the College should abandon its goal of shredding its party reputation. Instead, it should continue its policies that make on-campus events the safest option it can be for students who make the decision to take part in weekend night life.