A junior’s perspective: More than just a first-year problem

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By Charles Meyers

 

Being ranked the number five  party school in the nation by Newsweek sounds pretty cool to many of the people who go to or are thinking of going to Union College.  However, the administration’s pushback to being ranked so high by shattered any freshman’s dream of burning the candle at both ends.  So, the question remains, is the response from Union College justifiable given the circumstances?

Every freshman hears about how awesome the parties are, how amazing the good old days of 2011-2012 were and that must be pretty horrible.

As a junior and a member of the Greek system, I empathize with the frustration that many people feel with regards to the new policies on campus; however, as students we must accept that there is no easy way to handle the problem of being ranked the number five party school in the nation.  While this title may attract more prospective students to Union, those may be the “wrong” types of students, and this score is not so helpful when trying to get into graduate school or other programs.  It might feel good to say, “I go to the number five party school in the nation” on spring break, but try saying that to your job interviewer— not so cool. Another reason for the change in policy is that there was a dramatic drop in the mean freshman GPA over these past couple of years, and despite Union’s best efforts, they can’t seem to get out of this funk.  The logic is that by limiting access to the fraternities the overall GPA of the freshman class will rise. But is it true?

While it may appear that I am supporting the new policy, let me be clear, I am not.  I think that it is an unfortunate situation that we find ourselves facing, one that cannot be solved by making things go back to the way they were.  The problem with restricting access to fraternities is that the it is severely limiting the capability of those organizations to recruit. If a freshman cannot get a feel for the values and mood of each fraternity on campus then how does he decide which one suits him best, or whether he does not want to rush at all? Students need all kinds of experiences to learn who they are and who they want to be, and deciding how to self-monitor your social actions is a large part of that. The administration is robbing our first years, as well as many of us upper classmen of the experiences that define college. And, consequently, freshmen are seeking alternative experiences off campus which are even less regulated.

To be ranked number five sounds pretty awesome, but the results are not. I am not a fan of the current policies, but I do realize that it is not just about keeping us from having fun. The question is, where do you draw the line between being too strict while trying to protect your students and not being strict enough and letting them potentially throw their time at Union away. While I don’t have a perfect solution, I do know that these restrictions are only causing more problems than they solve.

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