September 14, 2010

Idol Resistance

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Fifteen-hundred Cornellians, the male members of the Cornell Greek community, are currently united to address the drafted IFC regulations that could go into effect soon. As many of you know, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, the male Greeks met on the Arts Quad, marched into Uris Auditorium and showed mass resistance to the impending legislation. I joined the group late, and was deterred at the door as the room had drawn to capacity. I looked at the police officer, told him that I was a “reporter” for the Cornell Daily Sun, and he consulted his fellow officers and let me through. His lack of due diligence to verify my claim forces me to consider that he was dumber than the German cop who arrested me in Munich for throwing lemons at a crowd (sorry this is the first time you are hearing about this Mom and Dad). Reflecting on the event, I must say that Dean of Students for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Travis Apgar, Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67, and award winner for most hysterical comment of the night and Vice President for Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 did the best Randy, Simon and Paula rendition I have seen in a while. Travis was Randy in that he was straight-up awesome, would nod his head during moments that merited a good nod and spoke in a more methodical, bearable tone than his counterparts. Kent was Simon in that he was stubborn, and would deny any good idea while bearing the secret thought of, “Man, that was a tough one to say no to.”Susan was Paula during her moments of illogical delirium. My favorite Paula moment was, when asked, “Do you plan on doing research or finding research to determine whether the policy changes will make Cornell safer off-campus?” Murphy bluntly replied, “No.”  We cannot assume, however, that her and Paula feel the same way about substance abuse. On a more serious note, these impending regulations ultimately restructure the rules governing fraternities to the point where the very essence of Greek life would be altered.  But if you truly think about it, why would 1,500 bright, young undergraduates bother to peacefully resist something without good reason? The sheer act of it should be indicative that something is awry. But the intricacies of the situation prevented this resistance from being fully considered by the University.The crux of the resistance lies in the fact that Cornell must enforce the New York State law prohibiting consumption of alcohol for those under 21 years of age, while ensuring and advancing the safety of this campus with regards to alcohol abuse. The administration’s answer is to bar fraternities from having access to and disseminating alcohol. However, the Greeks believe that underage students, specifically freshmen, who eagerly want to drink will do so regardless of the rules. The self-efficacy of a Cornell freshman — one has got to believe — is pretty high. If little William wants a shot of Captain Morgan, gosh darn he is going to get it. You will not discourage him from having one by instituting harsher legislation on fraternities through the IFC.In fact, the irony is that Cornell has so much governance over fraternities, that there are fewer safer places for William to have his first beer (I remember mine … it was in high school … just like a lot of people…). We allow the IFC to come into our houses before every registered event, giving the fraternity the equivalent of a full body search. Each time, its members feel vulnerable and exposed, but the two seconds of excessive touching is worth the fun to follow. Second, the IFC is entitled to random sweeps if they so wish at any time during the party. Honestly, I no longer fear stating the truth about the taboo subject of underage drinking. The fact is people in fraternities will drink, but they happen to be some of the most impressive, well-rounded individuals on this campus. Most have a clear understanding of the social world, and the realities of life. These people — many of whom will make major impacts on the world — are generally sociable and gregarious. Besides, if you kick them out of their beloved Greek community, they are still going to get little William that drink. Only this time it will have hard liquor.After I attended the infamous forum last Tuesday, I came to think that maybe we in the Greek system do drink too much. So while I disagree with the new legislation, as it will only make this problem worse, I would like to impress upon my peers a couple of thoughts. First, one or two days of dry rush during rush week might be beneficial. However, it is during this time that I ask each fraternity to define and enunciate its values and mission to the freshmen in one way or another. Second, I recommend that each fraternity indicate how much it drinks, the house GPA and the extracurricular and leadership activities of its members. I know we will all hate doing this. But if we truly want to move away from our association with the Animal House stereotype, it will be these crucial moments that show Kent Hubbell that we are adults, not children. And Kent, if you don’t remember calling us children, I wrote it down. You said in reference to your college days, “Now I’m a grownup,” leading to the natural assumption that you believe college students to be children. Tough stance to have considering your job title, I might add. It is through these efforts that we can make our Greek system more sustainable, while not sacrificing its essence or values.  As I mentioned at the forum, the Greek system is one of Cornell’s best marketing tools, and continues to give the school soul and character. I hear the wind blowing over the cold frozen tundra in the middle of winter, and the one thing pulling so many of us through is the mosaic of memories we develop through that social network. The times we laugh and cried, became united over issues and gained our best leadership moments, could be wiped away without concessions. Let us show Kent that we truly are adults, and let us keep intact a system that helps us get through these important four years.

Mathew Sevin is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be contacted at msevin@cornellsun.com. You Wanted a Hit appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Mathew Sevin