Fraternities could lose overnight privileges

By Henry Kittle
CONTRIBUTOR

After USD administration attempted to ban off-campus, overnight events sponsored by student organizations, the Interfraternity Council successfully lobbied to postpone the administration from initiating this policy until Friday Feb. 15.

A would-be large change in Greek guidelines, the proposal’s unenthusiastic reception is no secret to administrators such as Mandy Womack, director of student organizations and Greek life.
“We’re essentially limiting the organizations’ freedom and what they perceive as a right, and very few people have ever been excited about that,” Womack said.

According to Womack, the overnight events represent an unsafe environment, and she has been tracking them for the past five years.

“Significant events are happening at our in town events as well,” she said, referring to students being hospitalized for alcohol. “[However], there are different resources available to people when they are here.”

Greek members believe the postponement seems more symbolic in nature as the policy change has been pushed back a week, with no appeal process in place.

“We’re pretty confident the decision has already been made,” said junior and Beta Theta Pi president Sam Littlefield. “At this point we are trying to find a way to get our chapter members excited about the opportunities that could arise with more money going toward bigger events because we wouldn’t use those funds for an out of town formal.”

At the IFC meeting, Womack said, “This is what we think needs to happen no matter what.”

A recent post titled “Why? It is the right thing to do” on Womack’s blog explains her reasoning in a hypothetical letter to her 20-year-old self.

“When others tell you that they care for you and want what’s best for your life, believe them – even if you don’t agree with what’s happening,” she said on the blog.
Despite her position, Womack said that there has usually been no communication problem when organizations go out of town.

“If there is a significant issue at the event, the organization reports back to the University…most of them as it’s occurring, they’re on the phone with me or campus resources.”
Junior and president of Lambda Chi Alpha Corbin O’Donnell suspects this kind of communication, as well as other risk management precautions, will go away with the new ban on overnight activities.
“We’re worried that ‘unofficial’ trips will still occur and that there will be no school or fraternity oversight, and thus [they will] become more dangerous,” said O’Donnell.

On the subject of the risk posed by students organizing events outside of their formal organizations, Womack said, “It is not possible for the university, nor do I think it would desirable for the university, to regulate what individual students are doing.”

Womack’s focus is on what she calls the “culture” of student organizations involved in these events, much of which is associated with binge drinking. On her blog, she compares this culture to cheating boyfriends, snarky attitudes, and popcorn and mustard diets, among other things.

Several students affiliated with Greek life have confirmed that they will still make the trip to Vegas independent of their fraternities.

One member who requested to remain anonymous to avoid implicating his own fraternity said, “No way would we not do this, it is too fun not to.”

Although attention surrounding this event has been concentrated on Greek life, the policy will be in effect for all student organizations. Ben Donnelly, class of 2012, found the news disconcerting regarding the effect it would have on his former Club Volleyball team’s annual trip.

“Vegas is the only reason we played volleyball,” said Donnelly.

It is to this point that the school and students seem to disagree most. Describing the significance of these events to students, Womack said, “To the sorority and fraternity experience, [overnight events are] not that important…the benefits can be met in a different way.”

Nevertheless, one student called the yearly Vegas trip “the culmination of my being.”

Fraternities have not yet decided how they can recreate this event in town in the case that the overnight trips become banned.

According to Womack, the overnight events represent an unsafe environment, and she has been tracking them for the past five years.

“Significant events are happening at our in town events as well,” she said, referring to students being hospitalized for alcohol. “[However], there are different resources available to people when they are here.”
Greek members believe the postponement seems more symbolic in nature as the policy change has been pushed back a week, with no appeal process in place.

“We’re pretty confident the decision has already been made,” said junior and Beta Theta Pi president Sam Littlefield. “At this point we are trying to find a way to get our chapter members excited about the opportunities that could arise with more money going toward bigger events because we wouldn’t use those funds for an out of town formal.”

At the IFC meeting, Womack said, “This is what we think needs to happen no matter what.”

A recent post titled “Why? It is the right thing to do” on Womack’s blog explains her reasoning in a hypothetical letter to her 20-year-old self.

“When others tell you that they care for you and want what’s best for your life, believe them – even if you don’t agree with what’s happening,” she said on the blog.

Despite her position, Womack said that there has usually been no communication problem when organizations go out of town.

“If there is a significant issue at the event, the organization reports back to the University…most of them as it’s occurring, they’re on the phone with me or campus resources.”

Junior and president of Lambda Chi Alpha Corbin O’Donnell suspects this kind of communication, as well as other risk management precautions, will go away with the new ban on overnight activities.
“We’re worried that ‘unofficial’ trips will still occur and that there will be no school or fraternity oversight, and thus [they will] become more dangerous,” said O’Donnell.

On the subject of the risk posed by students organizing events outside of their formal organizations, Womack said, “It is not possible for the university, nor do I think it would desirable for the university, to regulate what individual students are doing.”

Womack’s focus is on what she calls the “culture” of student organizations involved in these events, much of which is associated with binge drinking. On her blog, she compares this culture to cheating boyfriends, snarky attitudes, and popcorn and mustard diets, among other things.

Several students affiliated with Greek life have confirmed that they will still make the trip to Vegas independent of their fraternities.

One member who requested to remain anonymous in order to avoid implicating his own fraternity said, “No way would we not do this, it is too fun not to.”

Although attention surrounding this event has been concentrated on Greek life, the policy will be in effect for all student organizations. Ben Donnelly, class of 2012, found the news disconcerting regarding the effect it would have on his former Club Volleyball team’s annual trip.

“Vegas is the only reason we played volleyball,” said Donnelly.

It is to this point that the school and students seem to disagree most. Describing the significance of these events to students, Womack said, “To the sorority and fraternity experience, [overnight events are] not that important…the benefits can be met in a different way.”

Nevertheless, one student called the yearly Vegas trip “the culmination of my being.”

Fraternities have not yet decided how they can recreate this event in town in the case that the overnight trips become banned.

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