The Fraternity and Sorority Coalition Assessment Project released an overview on the status of Greek organizations at the College of William and Mary. Their report listed what they perceived to be strengths and weaknesses of our Greek system. They named the usual pros: higher graduation rates among Greeks, lower levels of stress, and members who are active outside their chapters. The problems the coalition highlighted were equally banal, including alcohol use and abuse, hazing concerns and housing issues. For the most part their assessment was accurate, but some of their policy recommendations are ill-informed.
The report states that while there is clearly a special relationship between the college administration and the fraternity and sorority community, there is no codified official recognition. This means the administration and Greek organizations can never have a clearly delineated relationship. The end result is an uncertainty in their interactions and differing policies among Residence Life, Student Affairs and the Campus Police.
The report then suggests that the College should develop an explicit relationship with fraternities and sororities to make clear their rights and responsibilities. It is easy to imagine this happening: Greek leaders would have long talks with the administration and draw up guidelines for their organizations. It would all look good on paper, but in the end, it would be completely meaningless. The administration could never have an official Greek policy that actually addressed the major point of contention between the two groups, alcohol use.
National law prohibits the College from condoning any use of alcohol by students under 21. It would have to be official policy to enforce this law, and most Greek organizations — although they might give lip service to such an agreement — would never abide by it. This would leave the Greek relationship with the administration in much the same state it already is.
Personally, I believe that the current equilibrium is manageable. The administration — although officially bound to enforce the law — realizes unofficially that it is often violated. Granted, this does lead to a high degree of subjectivity and uncertainty when administration personnel and Greek social life collide, but this amorphousness is a sort of compromise between the two groups. It has thus far proved a workable status quo.
The coalition has its own ideas on how to reform alcohol policy. Disturbed by the alcohol use in the
fraternity complex, they recommend the College create a space in which all student groups can host social events with alcohol. This place should have “a third-party vendor and cash bar with age verification, and they must not serve alcohol to members or guests who are under the legal drinking age.” I believe we have a few of these already — they are called delis. As much as I would applaud an on-campus bar, I fail to see how this would reduce social drinking in the units.
An equally useful idea put forth by the coalition was a ban on beer pong tables. Given that a beer pong table is basically any table on which you play beer pong, enforcement of such a policy might be a challenge (plus, it would be a shame now that pong balls are subsidized by the Student Assembly).
Putting misguided policy prescriptions aside, the coalition’s report is a decent, although not perfect, outline of the state of Greek affairs on our campus, and I encourage you all to read it.
Click here to download a PDF copy of the full report.
Email Ed Innace at email@example.com.