The University Police Department is increasing campus patrols this fall to clamp down on underage drinking.
Officers will monitor parties on and off campus where they suspect students are drinking, and UPD Chief Kevin Hay told the Interfraternity Council last week that fraternities should expect a larger police presence at their events, several members said.
Hay said officers will crack down on enforcement, but he declined to comment on why he met with Greek chapter heads. He also declined to provide the number of this year’s on- and off-campus housing patrols compared to past years, but he has said in the past that 18 officers patrol the Foggy Bottom Campus at all times.
Some Greek chapter presidents said they feel targeted in the aftermath of two sexual abuse reports at Townhouse Row – Greek housing – earlier this month.
There are 14 Greek townhouses on campus, with additional chapter housing located at Strong Hall and International House. The University also considers groups of fraternity members who live together in off-campus apartments to be part of chapter-affiliated housing.
Colton Blackman, president of Pi Kappa Phi, said chapter heads were told the crackdown was a direct response to the sexual abuse allegations in Townhouse Row, along with two other reported incidents near campus, so far this year. All four reported abuses involved alcohol.
He said he agreed with GW’s focus on safety, but added that he would feel targeted as a member of the Greek community if that were the only student organization approached by UPD.
Colin O’Brien, president of Beta Theta Pi, called the additional patrolling “unprecedented” and said he felt that the Greek community was being singled out unfairly. He said chapters must create more sexual assault prevention programming to erase a stigma surrounding the Greek community and sexual abuse.
O’Brien said his chapter cancelled a handful of events last weekend to play it safe the weekend before rush begins. Five other chapters said they also kept a closer eye on their parties this weekend and alerted members of the additional patrolling.
One chapter head, who wished to remain anonymous, said his chapter sometimes holds parties that are not registered with the University’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, because they are not planned in advance. He said he is concerned that officers will shut down such parties and force their chapter into probation for breaking the University’s policy of registering every party that serves alcohol with CADE.
Jared Benoff, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said he was “encouraged” that the University was taking steps to make campus safer, but said he hoped the alleged sexual assaults would not spur the University to stifle the Greek community.
Daniel Gil, president of the Interfraternity Council, and presidents from 10 fraternities – including Phi Kappa Psi, where two of the reported sexual assaults this semester took place – did not return request for comment.
Greek Life director Christina Witkowicki did not return requests for comment.
This article was updated Sept. 24, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet reported that Jared Benoff said he hoped the sexual assault allegations would not damage the Greek community. To clarify, Benoff said he hoped the allegations would not give the University cause to stifle the Greek community.
This article appeared in the September 24, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.