Last week, the Interfraternity Council released the results of a survey sent to students about their experiences during rush week in January. While the results show that the University’s new Greek recognition policy reduced the amount of drinking that occurs during this period, it is concerning that there has been an increase in the number of events held in Collegetown.
The IFC seems to have done a good job responding to the University’s challenge to make rush week dry, even though many fraternities expressed distaste for the policy. According to the survey administered by the IFC to students who rushed and joined fraternities this semester, 72.6 percent of students reported that they did not drink any alcohol during rush. By contrast, 32.9 percent reported not drinking in 2011. The IFC’s willingness to live up to the University’s charge goes a long way toward maintaining self-governance within the boundaries set by Cornell.
However, the IFC is right that while these numbers are promising, the shift in events to Collegetown is problematic. As long as these events shift to unregulated environments in Collegetown or elsewhere (and there is clear evidence that this has been the result of this policy) there are still problems that need to be addressed. While last year, 8.9 percent of students rushing said that they attended four off-campus events, this year, that number was 14.1 percent. From last year to this year, the number of respondents who reported attending five off campus events jumped from 5.7 percent to 10.3 percent. The number who said they attended six events jumped from 3.3 percent to 7.7 percent. Though fewer fraternities are planning events with alcohol, it seems that those that do are hosting them in Collegetown.
If fraternities were able to skirt regulations during such a regimented and controlled period as rush week, we worry about the amount of drinking that would shift to other settings during other parts of the year. The data about rush week this year seems to support the arguments of those who said that the changes to the Greek recognition policy would only shift activities to more dangerous, unregulated environments in Collegetown. If this trend continues, the University should question the effectiveness of such strict regulations that bar freshmen from fraternity events with alcohol, since Collegetown parties, where there is less oversight from the IFC, are arguably more dangerous.
These surveys go a long way toward illuminating the challenges that Cornell faces when addressing the problems ingrained in the Greek system. While it is still too early to tell what the overall results of the policy will be, the results from these surveys show that the consequences of the changes to the Greek recognition policy are not as simple as the University had imagined.