University News

U. officials deny ‘crackdown’ on frat parties

Some students say they have noticed more rigid enforcement of security and safety policies

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, October 11, 2013

Fraternity members and unaffiliated students alike have perceived an increase in the University’s efforts to police Greek and program house parties this semester, but University officals denied any increased focus.

“There is no deliberate crackdown on frats. If there was a deliberate crackdown on frats, you would know about it,” said Richard Bova, senior associate dean of the Office of Residential Life.

Discussions about any alleged “crackdown” primarily center around Class F events — parties where admission is charged, alcohol is sold and permits must be obtained from the city — thrown by fraternities and program houses such as Buxton House and Machado House. Natalie Basil, director of Residential Experience for ResLife, added that though sororities tend not to throw Class Fs due to their national affiliations, they would be allowed to if they expressed interest.

“These are permits that are pulled from the city, and we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that they are managed correctly,” Bova said, adding that while the University recognizes the need to ensure such events run smoothly, it has not made efforts to limit Class F event frequency or make these events more difficult to hold.

But some students said this year is different from years past. Students interviewed said they have noticed harsher scrutiny surrounding alcohol consumption, stricter rules for capacity and instances of parties being shut down early, as well as a greater presence of Evening Event Managers from the Student Activities Office and monitors from the Department of Public Safety and Green Mountain Concert Services, a University-contracted security company.

Bobby Lusi ’15, a brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, said party monitors seem more hands-on this year.

Previously, GMCS personnel and EEMs were mostly present outside and let the fraternity brothers manage the party inside, he said. But at Body Chemistry, a party AEPi held Sept. 21, Lusi noticed that EEMs officers were inside, “roaming the entire party.”

A smaller number of Class F events may be creating a perception of more intense monitoring because the EEMs are less spread out, Bova said.

But members of other fraternities said they have also noticed a security change. Tommy Komendzinski ’16, a brother of Phi Kappa Psi, said he also thought security seemed stricter compared to last year, especially at Class F parties his fraternity has thrown.

Kate Tompkins, assistant director of ResLife and adviser to the Greek Council, disputed the assertion that there has actually been an increase in University monitoring of Class F events.

“Every year at this time there is this perception … that we’re cracking down,” Tompkins said. She said these perceptions are often due to changes in house leadership and occupants.

The impression of a crackdown is also common among independents living in the residence halls housing both fraternities and students unassociated with Greek life.

Kavia Khosla ’16, an independent living in Marcy House, where AEPi and Zeta Delta Xi are located, said she noticed both stricter rules for event capacities and instances of officials shutting down parties early. The early endings have led to intoxicated students roaming around campus in search of other places to go — a situation Khosla, a Herald video staffer, said she feels is less safe.

Fraternity members seem to be more cautious about noise and capacity even in small, unofficial events because of increased fears of being shut down by DPS officers, she said.

A member of the Greek community, who asked to remain anonymous, said officers were previously more lenient in their enforcement of Class F rules regarding issues such as capacity and underage drinking. He added that certain changes to the University’s policies concerning Class Fs have made parties less fun and less profitable for fraternities.

But many fraternities and program houses are actually grateful for University support, Bova said. Some students have struggled in the past to enforce capacity and alcohol rules when engaging with their peers, he said.

EEMs are responsible for ensuring that events across campus run smoothly, safely and according to plan, Topmkins said.

While Tompkins said rules about capacity remain constant, she added there have been two definitive changes this year concerning Class F policy — the responsibility of checking students’ ID cards at the door has shifted from student hosts to GMCS staff members, and the host organizations are now responsible for paying the GMCS fee, which a Greek Council member who asked to remain anonymous said amounts to $190.

The new ID policy helps the University ensure students adhere to the Student Code of Conduct, which prohibits underage drinking, said J. Allen Ward, senior associate dean of the Office of Student Life.

The GMCS fee was once covered by ResLife, Tompkins said. In response to concerns that party hosts relied on official monitors, instead of themselves, to enforce the rules and ensure guest safety, a policy was instituted last spring to split the GMCS fee between ResLife and the hosting fraternity. Fraternities were then given the choice to host parties without security, but the University ultimately determined outside help was necessary for all Class F events, Tompkins said, adding that now all hosts are required to pay the entire charge.

Since the houses charge admission, they should be responsible for this fee, she added.

Fraternities used to often make a slight profit on their events or break even, the Greek Council member said. He added that the fee, accompanied with stricter enforcement of capacity rules, impacts an organization’s ability to make up the costs of putting on a party.

The new rules could result in more off-campus parties, he said, adding that these events can pose a greater risk to safety because they require students to walk farther from campus and are often less regulated by hosts.

“I would not say there is a direct corollary with more parties thrown off campus,” Bova said, adding that such parties are an inevitable part of student life.

DPS officers and GMCS staff members are “really there to support the students so that they can have a successful event,” said Paul Shanley, deputy chief of police for DPS. Officers can help manage lines, prevent students from sneaking in and ensure that parties do not exceed capacity, he said.

Shanley said there have not been any focused efforts on the part of DPS this semester to shut down Class F parties more often or earlier.

  • Bruno

    Anyone who is in a fraternity knows that the university has absolutely changed its mindset in the past couple of years. The university just can’t admit that they used to be more lenient about underage drinking, but it is true.

  • B

    Bruno’s right. And the crackdown has definitely increased off-campus partying. Sigma, DPhi, and D Tau all throw almost all their events off-campus because they’ve basically been on eternal social probation.

  • Miami Esq

    Went to my first Brown frat party in about 1958; no shortage of alcohol then. Glad to see some attention to underage boozing, even if it took some decades for Brown to get the point.

  • Dont know how good you have it

    ‘Waaaaaaaaaah.’

  • inside brownbag

    Brown University officials are not doing enough, period. By not doing enough, they are acting irresponsibly, and not as required by their jobs. But they are not ashamed for not doing enough. Instead, they feel ashamed for doing anything at all. These university deans are so incompetent that they could not get jobs anywhere else in the world. So they are stuck with being half-assed bureaucrats at Brown University. Get that, Chris. You are already very much like them, and you will be like them completely within a year. The only hope you have for rescuing yourself is to fire all the deans, and to get your boss Larry fired too.

  • JPalto

    Glad that they are starting to get srs bout underage drinking.