Student pinpoints administration’s contradictory policies and actions

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I would like to preface this article by stating that I am a proud member of the Union community. Both my parents work at the college, all three of my older siblings attended Union and when people ask me, “Where’s Union?” I eagerly educate outsiders on Union’s top-tier liberal arts status.

Nevertheless during my time at Union I have experienced a shift in administrative conduct. Those who were once helpful and reasonable when they implemented rules have become increasingly bureaucratic and arbitrary in their enforcement of regulations.

Some of you may agree with me that there are indeed contradictions in Union’s policies, and join me in insisting action be taken. Alternatively, if those of you who disagree prove me wrong, an equally beneficial outcome will result.

Before I cite the college actions I have witnessed that directly violate our school’s own policies, I would like to point out some flaws in the section of the Student Handbook entitled, “Social Events With Alcohol Policy: Additional Requirements” (p 115). Do you notice anything strange about the excerpt from the student handbook below? The first and third bullets are exactly the same (although the first lacks a period). This sloppy typo is revealing. It highlights the Administration’s top priority: assume as little responsibility for “campus events with alcohol” as possible:

  • “Registration of the Event with Alcohol does not imply the College’s sponsorship of the Event
  • College funds and Student Forum funds may not be used to purchase alcohol.
  • Registration of the Event with Alcohol does not imply the College’s sponsorship of the Event.”

Here is a confusing rule: “only those 19 years old and have completed social host training/alcohol training program may serve alcohol.”

Maybe this rule is just the result of poor proofreading. I’m not sure because this handbook is riddled with errors and is 187 pages long, presumably to discourage students from reading its jumbled text.

But this is what the rule says: only 19 year-olds can serve alcohol, who, of course are not old enough to consume alcohol themselves, and yet are responsible for monitoring whether someone is “too intoxicated” to drink another can of beer. And lets be realistic, no one is getting transported because he or she chugged 15 beers at a frat if, that is they could even manage to get in before campus safety promptly shut down the party at 11:30 p.m. What are the grounds for shutting down parties, you ask? Minor infractions such as: girls storing their coats in the chapter room (which I would argue avoids awkward encounters for girls who do not wish to be alone in the room of a boy whom they may not know).

Another “infraction” is excessively long lines in front of a house, something that is impossible to avoid if fraternities abide by capacity rules.

There are many other instances in just this section alone where the rules simply do not make sense. One line states that the number of water bottles and bags of chips at an event with alcohol must be proportional to the number of people attending the party.

A few lines later, the handbook states there must be 100 bags of chips and 5 packs of 24 individual bottled waters. Which is it?

One of the first rules is that no hard alcohol is to be served at social events, but later we find the statement, “hard liquor may be dispensed by an approved bartender” (p 120).

Additionally, on page 146 of the handbook, it states fraternities must also be compliant with Fraternal Information & Programming Group (FIPG) regulations and provides a link to the rules. The webpage given, however, no longer exists. With rules like these, it is extremely difficult not to get in trouble on Union’s Campus.

Because space is limited I will simply list some of the actions Union Administration has taken or approved that directly conflict with its own policies:

  1. On May 15, 2016, Student Affairs hosted a Greek Week Scavenger Hunt, a direct violation of what Union College considers “hazing.” That’s not to say that the scavenger hunt was not fun, safe and voluntary, but under New York State Law 120.16, it is hazing in the first degree, punishable as a class A misdemeanor.
  2. On September 13, 2016, Sigma Chi hosted a pie eating contest as a part of its rush activities, fully approved, advertised and supported by Student Affairs. Again, although I agree this is a fun, voluntary and safe activity, if Campus Safety found New Members eating full pies without the use of their hands, Sigma Chi would likely be kicked off campus for “hazing.”
  3. Since September 12, Alpha Chi Omega has been giving away t-shirts, boxes of donuts, pens, pins etc., to students and potential new members while having conversations about not just going Greek, but rushing this new sorority. At the risk of being redundant, I again see nothing wrong with this. However, if during rush a potential new member leaves Gamma Phi Beta, Sigma Delta Tau, or Tri-Delta with anything at all, we are charged with “dirty rushing” by the Greek Conduct Board. If we express why we think our own sorority is worthy of membership we are fined and sanctioned.

I could go on with examples, and honestly maybe I will next week. But for now I would like to leave you with a hopeful quote from the Student Handbook on page 121 regarding “Athletic-Tailgating Events,” which are apparently permissible, “Consumption of alcoholic beverages is limited to parking lots.”

So let’s play by Union’s rules, and throw a rather spirited tailgate prior to the next home football game against Skidmore on Saturday, October 8, that is if we can find a 19 year-old to hand out the beer.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent reporting work.

    What you’ve highlighted is in part what you’ll find (when you begin working) at many large companies.

    Policy updates face a lot of controls. It takes time to update and remove policies and it is done in piecemeal. During my tenure at Union we had three different Greek directors with three different visions.

    Overhauling and updating doesn’t happen overnight and I’m sure this is in part what you’re seeing.

    Secondly, a vast majority of policies sited by the college, particularly those that involve alcohol, are worded very articulately for liability reasons.

    For example, if a student dies of alcohol poisoning in a fraternity, by saying they don’t sponsor the events, the college protects itself from being sued and puts the liability on the fraternity.

    With rising insurance costs and dangerous alcohol consumption by college students, it’s imperative to include clauses denying any affiliation.

    Again, there was a point in time in which hard alcohol was allowed on campus. New regulation prohibits hard alcohol. Frequent policy changes aren’t always reflected in manuals.

    Last, there is a ton of regulation, but how many of these rules are actually enforced? I never even heard of a party shutting down because of excessively long lines. Same applies to the rule that requires students to live on campus all 4 years.

    Again, excellent report. It was a great read, but further investigation/explanation is required to tie together many loose ends.

    Coming from an employee of a multi billion dollar company with 50,000+ employees, it comes as no surprise that some regulations are outdated and/or contradict new amendments

  2. Union College is run by a radical group of left wing elitists that want to use the student body as a social testing ground for their radical left wing agenda. They censor unwanted information, promote left wing hate groups, have tight control over the student elections, they deliberated spin the truth when it comes to briefing he trustees. I will never give a cent to Union College.

  3. Having lived in 821 in which I served minors alcohol and now working for a multi billion dollar company I can tell you that Anon would not have been let into any parties #hack

  4. HAHA I agree, I tried to run for student government and point out everything laura said and get the trustees involved. Yet the paid student activities staffers, literary whipped the votes against me by personally calling non greek life clubs and saying that I was not in their interests! Those hacks that work in Reamer for student activities were paid with my tuition money. Complete Joke.

    • If you are referring to the people who currently work in Student Activities, you are dead wrong about them. They do more for the students on this campus than any other person or group. They constantly work to provide the best experience for students and make student success and happiness their number one priority. Their office is one of the most, if the not the most, positive aspect of Union. Their guidance and relationships with students leads to incredible events, concerts, speakers, etc. They work incredibly long hours, working closely with students and staff to make Union a great place for everyone and get very little recognition for everything they do on campus. Based on your post, maybe you lost the election because you are a jerk.
      P.S. Would really love to see the billing statement that shows your tuition money going to their paychecks.

  5. I think that the argument about 19 year olds serving alcohol is irrelevant. If you are over 18 in new york you are allowed to serve alcohol.

    Also with alpha chi omega they do not have to abide by the same rules as the already established sororities since they are not a chapter here yet. Therefore, they are allowed to give out stuff and say to AChiO because they are not part of the formal recruitment process yet. When they are fully established they cannot do those kinds of things.

  6. The administration at Union is garbage lol they are literally money whores and have no care for students it’s quite despicable actually

  7. YAS LAURA YAS!!!! You’ve hit the tip of an ice berg and I know u can see that entire ice berg. Don’t ever stop speaking the truth. NEVER.

  8. You were given the platform to write about so many major flaws and in which this school abuses it’s students, and instead you write on Greek life? Thats so cute! I didn’t know you were retarded.

    • Only a severely emotionally insecure and intellectually stunted individual would make a comment that insensitive, not only to the author of an incredibly well-written and intelligent article, but to an entire population of mentally handicapped people.

      If you’d like to read articles on other major flaws/about Union’s abuses, why don’t you take a stab at it yourself? Leave people like Laura (who took initiative, time, and mental energy to actually sit down and craft a well-written article) alone. Anyone can write an idiotic and unintelligent comment like you did. Try writing an article that resonates (regardless of topic) with the student body.

    • 1. That’s a rude thing to say
      2. Your comment completely contradicts itself because members of Greek life are students so therefore, Laura is in fact writing about how the school abuses its students, just a more specific group of students.

  9. Bottom line, there is long and historic culture at Union that the administration is ignoring. Every chapter whose Alpha came from Union looks up to this campus, but when members of other chapters actually visit their founding grounds they are throughly disappointed. Our Alpha chapter was kicked off from your campus some time back for alleged actions the college could not firmly prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It seems like the witch hunt is going on and on.

    The ‘Mother of Fraternities’? In all honesty, all the chapters across the nation don’t know what to consider you guys.

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