In an e-mail correspondence last week, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott C. Brown addressed the presidents of Colgate’s six fraternities with a series of new directives concerning the monitoring and organization of their parties. The focus of the correspondence was to immediately cut down on the first-year involvement in Colgate’s party scene.
Brown’s September 9 e-mail assured its recipients that the existing BYOB and drinking age policies would stand, however, now, “no first-year students are allowed at any party until the beginning of the spring semester. The only exception is a catered event. All parties from the spring semester on must be open to all class years and men and women. There will be absolutely no parties that only invite or allow first year/women.”
He asked the fraternities to come up with a system to ensure that this change be put into place, and to present him with a solution by September 15.
Brown explained that this initiative was not prompted by any particular event; rather, it is part of a couple of more long-term plans for the school.
“One is that there are a lot of things we’ve been doing for the first-year experience, and the other one of those is [promoting] residence halls as places of engagement… this action has been really part of the spirit of the whole movement,” Brown said.
“The idea is that there is a pretty full slate of things that students can be doing, and we’re hoping that students will avail themselves of that as much as possible.
There’s a lot of funding that’s available to help students connect in various ways,” Brown said.
He is hoping, however, that students will help work on these alternative solutions, “versus having old people figure out what we think is fun.”
Although his e-mail was addressed to fraternity presidents, “[the regulation] is especially for parties that have alcohol present, but it applies for all Broad Street housing,” Brown clarified. “Alcohol is difficult, because it’s like television for kids. You know, it’s not ideal, but it tends to keep people entertained, though in a potentially harmful way.”
Some students acknowledge this danger.
“It is true that most people kind of go crazy freshman year, and learn through experience how to deal with the partying scene in general. They often have to go over their limits to make that distinction,” senior Sami Kozlowski said. But she and many others are still not sure about the regulations. “I think it would be very hard to enforce, for the school and for the individual fraternities.”
Brown suggested that the eagerness students experience when first on campus “could put folks in pretty risky situations. This is not just at Colgate, it’s across the country.”
According to the logic of the directives, there is a real difference between the experience of first and second-semester first-years. But the reaction of many students has paralleled that of Delta Upsilon fraternity Philanthropy Chair junior Kevin Morgan.
“I don’t see much difference between freshmen first semester and freshmen second semester,” Morgan said.
Others are skeptical about the benefits of delaying the party scene introduction. Co-Philanthropy Chair of Phi Delta Theta fraternity junior Marco Pizzitola compared the new regulation to pushing the driving age back to 21.
“Breaking into the college social scene is an important experience, and regardless of when that happens it’s going to happen the same way,” Pizzitola said.
Many students were skeptical about the plausibility of consistent enforcement of this regulation.
“If he makes the rule, people will find a way to get around it,” first-year Lauryn Kobiela said.
Kozlowski agreed, adding that “the partying wouldn’t stop, they would just find a different place to do it.”
The new directives take on a ‘help them help themselves’ attitude towards Colgate’s fraternities.
“There’s a lot of support that we’re giving to [Greek Life] right now. And a big part of that is to help them sort of figure out what [their] ideal organization looks like,” Brown said.
He is not the only one to see their potential benefits: “with the policy, I kind of take on the viewpoint that it helps avoid the liability of the fraternities, for freshmen consuming alcohol for example,” Morgan said.
However, those looking from the outside note the direct approach of the administration with surprise.
“After all, it’s [the fraternities’] parties,” Kobiela said.
Although the administration is putting the onus on the fraternities for their own attendance regulation, “if [any violation] comes to our attention it will certainly be enforced,” Brown said.