MENNINGER: New FOAs are unfair

Targeting fraternities in the effort to prevent sexual assault will not ultimately improve safety

Last week I lay marooned on my couch recovering from a successful hip surgery. In my delirium and unrivaled state of boredom, I couldn’t help but hope for a speedy return to student life, and to having homework again. That’s how bored I was. I needed something to do, so I probed the internet looking for anything to distract me and eventually found what I was looking for: the Cavalier Daily article announcing the University’s new Fraternal Organization Agreements.

The list of newly implemented stipulations for fraternity life include, but I am sure are not limited to: 1) Mandated sober brothers at each drink station, 2) a sober brother positioned at the stairs with key access to upstairs rooms, 3) regulations on the types of alcohol offered and the manner in which it is served, and 4) required guest lists for all functions.

These novel regulations apply to all fraternity functions occurring after 9 p.m. — in other words, to the majority of fraternity events happening...ever.

On the surface, seeing this article regarding the recently passed regulations reminds me of the tragic events last semester, the Rolling Stone article, and its effect on the University. However, at the same time, like many others around Grounds, I can’t help but feel slightly disgruntled. I am not a fraternity member, and I admit that changes must occur, but it seems as though the University has chosen to implement unrealistic solutions. The aforementioned stipulations might superficially uphold safety, but in time they will prove impractical, unenforceable and possibly exceedingly harmful for the general student body.

Let’s re-examine just one stipulation: mandatory guest lists for all functions. I can see why the University has passed such a restriction. They fear the repetition of past tragedies and hope that guest lists will provide an accurate account of the people attending a function. They want a record of who was where, and on what date, in case something goes wrong.

Let’s ignore how the University is going to oversee every frat, every night (because that seems impossible) and instead just focus on what might happen if there is a guest list. First of all, mandatory guest lists will never account for every person at a party. Believe it or not, I have been to a few frat parties, so I know first-hand that kids will jump fences, sneak in and utilize any other Trojan horse method to get into a party. Countless eager party-goers will always go unaccounted for.

Some might argue that documentation of some sort is a necessary step toward preventing future sexual assaults and holding accountability at fraternity parties. Maybe so, but it could also lead to more problems. Consider this: If a guest list is enforced, then the goal is to get yourself on the guest list. To do so, you’ll have to befriend an upperclassmen, more specifically a fraternity member, by any means necessary. However, while some might easily and willingly strike up relationships with their older peers, many certainly will not. Innumerable first-years cramming for a spot on a guest list will inevitably fail.

While some first-years might submissively return to their beds to sleep off the pain of rejection, many will not. Those who wish to drink will find a way to drink, and in the case of first-years, they will either return to drink in their dorms or take to the streets and bars, using fake IDs in the process. Unfortunately, students drinking in their dorm rooms are doing so behind closed doors. If something goes wrong, who helps? A drunk friend? The truth is that underage drinking is inevitable and at a frat party, more help, whether utilized or not, is available, while in a dorm room it is not. Students purposely subvert their RAs to avoid getting written up Sadly, sexual assaults occur in residence halls just as much (in fact more frequently) than at fraternity houses. Forcing first-years back into their dorms certainly can’t help this situation.

Maybe the solution is not to use the fraternity system as a scapegoat and drastically limit their freedom, but instead to promote a community based on interconnectedness. For example, the ISC could amend sororities’ no contact policy, which influences how Greek women socialize and whether they help underclass women. Or maybe, the administration could host on-Grounds parties. Either way, there are other more enforceable, positive changes that can be made instead of the above mentioned newly implemented fraternal restrictions.

Nate Menninger is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at n.menninger@cavalierdaily.com.

related stories