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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.