Director of the Student Activities Center Tim Miller was driving home one Saturday night in August when he noticed crowds of students swarming around seven Greek-letter life townhouses on F and 22nd streets.
Knowing that no parties were registered that weekend with the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education – a requirement for on-campus parties involving alcohol – Miller went into each of the houses, spoke to chapter presidents and shortly thereafter, the parties were shut down.
“Honestly, it was not a plan, I don’t usually drive looking for events, it just happened because those are the roads I took home that night,” Miller said.
Miller said the event sparked the University to once again enforce rules that have been in place for a number of years, which force Greek-letter organizations to register parties with CADE, serve food at events where alcohol is present and retain security officers to check IDs in order for parties to take place. Greek-letter life organizations that hold unregistered parties before sorority recruitment and fraternity rush take place in the coming weeks will lose their privileges to recruit new members. If chapters break the rules after rush and recruitment take place, revoking University recognition could be a consequence, Miller said.
Tara Pereira, assistant dean of students and the head of Student Judicial Services, said the incident sparked “a frank discussion about alcohol” at a previously scheduled retreat for all Greek-life life residents.
“[We said] this is something we’re worried about, there were all of these parties. we’re guessing there was underage drinking,” Pereira said.
The re-enforcement of alcohol rules comes on the heels of SJS’ re-evaluation of alcohol policies at the University, which Pereira has said will focus more on education rather than doling out judicial records. Both Miller and Pereira stressed that no new rules have been put in place for Greek-letter life organizations, instead calling the crackdown an emphasis on pre-existing rules.
“There are absolutely zero new rules,” she said, adding that Greek-letter life groups might feel like new rules are in place due the fact that all of the information regarding registering parties was presented “in a big mass.”
Miller and Pereira said they want Greek-letter life organizations to partner with the University on alcohol policy, rather than create a contentious issue.
“By telling them, ‘If you host an unregistered party between now and rush and recruitment you will not participate,’ I know they understand the significance of that,” Miller said. “They’re willing to come to the table and have a good discussion with us to really plan out what we’re going to do next.”
Greek-letter life presidents have responded by warning their chapter members about the possibility of losing their rush and recruitment privileges. One president sent out an e-mail to members advising them to be careful with their weekend activities.
“If members of a fraternity or sorority holds a social gathering or event that involves or serves alcohol that is NOT CADE registered and then caught by UPD [they] will then ban that fraternity or sorority from participating in recruitment,” the e-mail said.
A Facebook message provided to The Hatchet from a chapter hosting a party last weekend warned attendees that UPD would be present at the door.
“Hey guys as you all know Greek Life and Tim Miller have been especially difficult this year. We had to register this party through CADE and one of their rules is we need security at the door, aka, UPD. That being said don’t be turned away when you show up and see an officer outside the house, it’s simply protocol. Show your ID, come on in and get ready for a banger,” the message said.
One former Greek president reiterated that rush is a risky time to get in trouble with the University.
“I think it would be na’ve to think that because the University cracks down that everyone stops drinking,” the president said. “But no one wants to be in trouble, no one wants the University on them, especially with rush coming up. It’s definitely in the back of people’s minds, much more so than usual.”
But Renee Nichols, president of the Panhellenic Association, said Pereira and Miller are working to make sure the community has “the support we need to enforce our own rules.”
“They are working with us so alcohol does not become an issue in our community,” Nichols said. “This will not change our community. We are about so much more than alcohol.”
-Amanda D’Ambra contributed to this report.