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Friday, May 06, 2005
Moratorium Moratorium Moratorium
[Excuse the length. If you’re not interested in issues affecting the Greek Community, then don’t read this.] Consider this a comprehensive post on all the various ongoing issues related to a possible alcohol moratorium from the Office of Student Life on the Greek Community, prompted by the report on KTVU Channel 2 that aired at 10 o’clock tonight..
1. The news report said there would be an announcement about a new policy on Monday, although it was unclear what that announcement would entail. That being said, in a situation like this, it is in the interest of the Greek Community to act under the assumption that we will receive as harsh and intrusive an alcohol moratorium as we can imagine. If OSL does not impose something terrible then we luck out, but if they do, we are ready and prepared to respond.
2. The news report said that university officials are considering banning alcohol at fraternities and sororities, similar to the previous moratorium that was in place. [My guess at this time, which I feel roughly 85% confident about, is that the University is planning to impose a moratorium at least as limiting as the previous one from two years ago, on Monday.] It is in our interest to delay this announcement, because it will be much easier to convince the University to impose a less drastic policy than it will be to get them to rescind an overly harsh policy.
3. The recent incidents that have angered the University are only loosely connected to issues of alcohol at fraternities. Hazing will continue regardless of any alcohol moratorium, and unless the University finds a way to enforce a ban on alcohol at events occurring in San Francisco, then events like the recent frat ferry fight have the potential to occur again. [Makes you think that the University has been wanting to do this for a very long time, and is using recent incidents as a prompt, even though it's not a reasonable response to recent transgressions.]
4. If anything, the Greek Community has been on particularly good behavior lately, concerning alcohol. IFC and Panhellenic Officers have informed me that not a single house was busted in the last three weekends for illegal parties. The Greek Community actually has been self-policing itself and abiding by the rules, and yet the University might still attempt a stridently punitive crackdown.
5. If self-policing by the Greek Community won’t help us achieve limited autonomy, then there is no reason to cooperate with the University. Echoing the words of Mano, there are times to stand up and fight against the University, and this definitely looks like one of those times. The problem is that IFC has spent the last however many months trying to avoid a University crackdown by being as subservient as possible to the wishes of campus administrators. That, in my opinion, makes them rather ineffective as leaders in a movement against overly excessive University action. Because of the working relationships they have, I think they are not in a position to lead any type of radical action against the University. Hopefully, I’m wrong, and if the situation presents itself, they will lead the Greek response to any policies that are not in the interest of the Greek Community, but for now I think we need to assume that IFC has potentially been co-opted by the University, and other folks need to lead the charge.
6. This struggle is about both alcohol and autonomy. Regarding alcohol, Greeks are college students, and we want to drink alcohol in our houses with our friends, just like everyone else. But beyond naked self-interest, students quoted in the news report offered a couple of reasons why allowing continued alcohol consumption at parties is a good idea. First, Greeks go through alcohol educational training every single semester. We know how to drink responsibly, what to do if someone has had to much, and information about pain pressure points and the recovery position that make us uniquely suited to deal with students who have had too much to drink. Even if a moratorium led to a decrease in drinking, it would lead to an increase in less safe drinking. Secondly, another student said that students will be more likely to drive into the city to drink there, leading to a potentially dangerous increase in drinking and driving.
Regarding autonomy, this is something all students should be concerned about. Whether it is co-op autonomy, Greek autonomy, ASUC autonomy, or the right for students to be represented by a competent defense at a judicial hearing before the University, administrators always seem intent on denying us as many rights, freedoms, and protections as they can get away with. They seem eager to exert absolute control over us (if only they could get away with it), and every battle they win endangers future student freedom. If the University continues to win these battles, then I guarantee they will come after someone else after they have neutered the Greek Community.
7. There are ways that we can resist any drastic action by University. I’m going to throw out some ideas, and I would encourage others to offer their own thoughts. First, Greek donations make up a large pool of money for the University (for a couple of reasons). Encouraging Greek alumni to donate to their chapters instead of to the school itself is a potent tool to influence University policy. I would encourage Greek readers out there to get in touch with their Alumni Associations to begin finding out if they would be willing to withhold donations as a response to an overly excessive policy from the Office of Student Life.
Another strategy would be to force the University to actually engage students in a discussion about the costs and benefits of a potential alcohol moratorium, and whether it is a response that is needed at this time. I find it problematic that Dean Kenney would talk to news reporters about this issue while students are relying on rumor and innuendo to figure out what is going on, because the University won’t engage the Greek Community in a meaningful way. When James Walker brought news of a potential moratorium to the last IFC meeting, he had scant details on what an upcoming moratorium might entail or information on alcohol related incidents that might prompt this crackdown. Greeks have been effectively self-policing recently, and a moratorium would be a radical punishment that exceeds the alcohol infractions currently occurring. To that end, I think a sit-in in OSL on Monday with the demand that the University meet with leaders of the Greek Community to discuss this issue before they make an announcement would be a wonderful idea. At the very least, the University is obligated to sit down with the Greek Community to discuss their policies before they take any unilateral action.
Another idea could be a lawsuit. Members of the Greek Community could accuse the University of violating our right to freedom of association, equal protection under the law, and due process. Would students lose this lawsuit? Almost certainly so. Would it still be an effective way to draw attention to excessive university action and rally support among Greeks? Potentially yes!
8. An effective response will require coordinated action throughout the Greek Community. The Daily Cal is generally considered anti-Greek by the fraternity guys that I know (although they have been improving lately), but I think when issues of autonomy come up, they will side with the Greek Community. That being said, please pass on word to your chapter Presidents and fellow Greeks that a comprehensive alcohol moratorium would be a bad thing for the Greek Community. CalStuff will continue to post updates on this issue, and I encourage all of you to pass on word to your Greek (and non-Greek) friends to stop by CalStuff and offer your opinions on what we should be doing (as well as to stay informed on this issue).Email This Post!
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