Animal House Days are Over for Fraternities

Jason Rand

The days of Animal House and its Delta Fraternity are no more for Colgate University. Now a day, our “out of control” frat parties are catered by a third-party and other such house events need to be registered with the university. What has happened to Colgate? My sister, Senta, an alumnus of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, graduated in 1999 from Colgate. From pictures I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard, it sounds as though Colgate in the 1990s was a non-stop booze fest. I definitely had a certain perception of Colgate when I accepted my offer of admission, and to my dismay, there are some things that Colgate has not stacked up to be; you could start at one end of Broad Street and work your way, stopping off on any given night at just about any house “on the row.”

What really is the prerogative behind the Board of Trustees, President Chopp and Dean Weinberg? I was at a talk in San Francisco in August 2003, where Chopp explained and defended the “New Vision” for Colgate. The room was filled with Colgate alumni, young and old, concerned about what was to become of a social center stone of our campus. Some supported the President’s efforts, while others were furious with what appeared to be “sketchy” actions on behalf of the University.

President Chopp said that when she was at Emory, the University saw a “renaissance” of the Greek organizations when administrators decided to change policy. She said that where Greek systems have failed at other schools because the administration has not stepped in, she did not want this to be the case with Colgate. By the University stepping in, she believes this will actually benefit the Greek system at Colgate. Sure, we can bring the houses all up to fire code, but the fact that it seems hypocritical for the University to trudge close to our personal lives. Colgate is supposed to prepare us for the “real world,” to make us, in the words of President Chopp, “world leaders.” How can this vision ever become a reality if we are being babysat and overly controlled by the University?

True, we are a residential college, and part of our education is to live and learn from one another. But, we’re not 12. We like our independence. Sure, first-years need more Campus Saftey patrols and Resident Advisors. After all, this is probably when they are the most likely to drink themselves to the point of alcohol poisoning due to a lack of understanding of their own tolerance. As a senior, I truly hope that I will be able to live and party where and when I want.

My concern with the University’s acquisition of our houses is that this brings the University one step closer of ridding our campus of fraternities and sororities. We’ll be marked as the latest liberal arts college to hit Greek tragedy and would follow in the way of other premier Liberal Arts Colleges, like Middlebury or Colby College.I applaud DKE for its efforts of protecting its long tradition. By the way it looks, the University is none too happy about this lawsuit. On Colgate’s main website, the headline reads “Residential plan proceeds; DKE suit repeats failed strategy.” Such a headline leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. This, in my mind, is how the University currently views all Greeks on campus: “My way, or the highway.” It’s unfair, not very democratic and certainly not a model for the type of people Colgate hopes to produce.

And let’s be honest. What else are we supposed to do in the middle of Central New York? It’s not like we have a booming downtown. Sure, we have the Jug and Chili Willy’s. It’s funny. I remember President Chopp talking about how great the Palace Theater was. Sure, it looks nice, but the University is losing money on it, and I can only think of one band I’ve seen and Soap is Dope. The Palace Theater has failed; let’s be honest.

Particular fraternities and sororities on college campuses come and go, but this does not seem to be the case with Colgate. When one closes, it appears as though another does not start. Will there come a time when perhaps there will be only be two fraternities because the other five are kicked out?

I do not think that the administration will listen to my cry for keeping our Greek system in its current state, and who knows? Some might even call me a “putz,” but I know that I’m not the only member on Colgate’s campus that feels this way. All I can do is be optimistic about this situation.

Joining a Greek organization has been one of the best experiences I’ve had at Colgate. Even for those that are disinterested or not part of a Greek organization, I hope you know that Colgate would be a different place without the Greeks. We are not the enemy; it’s simply another social option.