November 11, 2008

IFC Discusses Dry Rush Nights; Repeals Motion After Passing It

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For fraternities, rush has unofficially begun. From bar tabs to Thanksgiving dinners, guys are already getting excited for a week known by some as “the best week of freshman year.” Last week, the Interfraternity Council considered the possibility of mandating nights of dry rush — an action that could change rush week’s reputation.
At last Wednesday’s IFC meeting, members voted on the issue, which had been discussed at the previous two meetings. A proposition in favor of instituting one night of dry rush was voted into effect by a vote of 19 to 16 with one abstention, IFC members confirmed. A motion to increase the number of dry rush days to two was then voted on, but it did not pass with 32 against and 4 in favor. However, during the discussion about which night should be designated for dry rush, someone motioned to strike the motion that had just been passed in favor of a night of dry rush. The motion to strike was passed by a vote of 23 to 14, thus putting dry rush to bed for this year.
Jason Korenthal ’10, president of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, explained that after the IFC spoke to the Board of Trustees, the groups agreed that they could make a change.
“We wanted to impress the trustees and show them Greek life is great. The trustees want to make sure the Greek community is as great as it has always been because a lot them are Greek,” Korenthal said.
The idea of having a dry rush stemmed from more than just a discussion with the Board of Trustees. Kara Miller, assistant dean of students in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, explained that the concept of a dry rush is far from new.
“The North American Interfraternity Council advocates [dry rush]. The NIC consists of most of the national organizations that our IFC groups belong to. The inter/national organizations also dictate dry recruitment as does the Fraternal Information and Programming Group, which is a group that makes risk management rules to advise inter/national organizations that purchase insurance jointly,” Miller stated in an e-mail.
According to Miller, at a Call to Action summit in September the C.U. Greek community was charged with creating “change that would make their community safer and more responsible,” Miller stated.
Miller saw many benefits to the idea of a dry rush including adherence to the law and creating a more casual environment for students to get to know each other without the influence of alcohol.
Gregory Schvey ’09, president of the IFC, explained the three-week long discussions that the council had about dry rush.
“We were discussing basically, if we chose one night, which night would it be and would everyone want to rally behind this idea of one night without alcohol? The key thing is that many or most chapters have one night where they have no alcohol. We didn’t all agree that it needed to be system wide,” Schvey said.
Ultimately, after multiple long discussions about dry rush, the resolution was not passed.
Schvey explained that during rush there are dry activities. One day, each house has a “smoker,” a three-hour time period where alcohol is not served, giving those rushing the opportunity to experience different houses in a dry setting.
Korenthal, who says his fraternity usually sponsors a dry rush trip at night, understood why adding a dry night may not appeal to all fraternities. Korenthal said a system-wide dry rush event would be beneficial.
He mentioned a Barton Hall event in which every fraternity would have a booth and students could explore the different houses all together in an alcohol-free environment. Such an event would be mutually beneficial to new students — who would get to see all the different fraternities — as well as the houses — which would have an equal opportunity in recruiting, he said.
Korenthal, who is running for the IFC executive board, said he would like to see such an event at the upcoming rush week, but no immediate plans have been set.
Last year, the IFC worked hard to enforce rules against hard alcohol being served. Schvey noted that two years ago 12 students, all of whom had consumed hard alcohol, went to the hospital during rush week. Last year, no students went to the hospital as a result of drinking at rush events.
“Our job is to, above all else, make sure everyone is safe,” Schvey said.
Miller explained the penalties of breaking rules concerning hard alcohol, which include eight weeks of social probation and a $1,000 fine. In addition, the fraternity would not be allowed to host any rush events during recruitment the day following the offense.
Though the OFSA and IFC do not impose strict penalties on serving beer, the Office of Fraternity Affairs does not encourage that beer be served.
“We always tell students that they must first recognize that there are federal, state and local laws that they need to understand and that they should follow. Furthermore, they are part of inter/national organizations that also have rules,” Miller stated in an e-mail.
Miller added, “We also approach the problem of underage drinking with a harm-reduction approach. The Event Management guidelines that the students passed a few years ago mandate marking those who are underage and not serving them. Violators are subject to the Greek Judicial Board and/or local authorities. Regarding harm reduction, we advocate for student safety and responsibility and believe the rules are structured to support this.”
According to Schvey, it is likely that future IFC boards will discuss the issue of dry rush again in the future.