January 22, 2012

Culture Shock for the Greek Community

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While the Interfraternity Council and the University successfully limited consumption of alcohol during rush week, their collaborative effort has yet to create a true change in the binge drinking culture that has historically been pervasive throughout the fraternity recruitment period and on campus in general. It should be a top priority for the administration to regulate high-risk drinking and prevent the dangers that can result from it. However, rule changes alone are not enough to curb these practices; the University must create a shift in the campus culture.

When the University issued a mandate for dry recruitment, the IFC amended its rush week schedule by eliminating the first night of rush and shifting dry recruitment events to the evening to limit potential new member access to alcohol.

As The Sun reported Monday, members of the Greek community found that taking these measures largely prevented fraternities from serving alcohol at chapter houses while freshmen were in attendance. We commend the IFC and the administration for working together in a constructive manner on this important issue. The IFC’s success in limiting access to alcohol in fraternity houses during rush week was significant, especially considering that an entirely dry rush was originally slated for 2013 but was expedited following the death of George Desdunes ’13 last February.

However, the IFC’s admission that, in fact, alcohol consumption moved to Collegetown annexes and other off-campus locations confirms that there remains much work to be done by Greek leadership and the administration to ensure that Cornell sees a full-scale departure from high-risk drinking — and the serious consequences that result from it. Without a true cultural shift, dangerous alcohol consumption will continue to be displaced.

This is not a revelation for the University or the Greek community. Collegetown landlords and residents have voiced concerns about the shift of high-risk behaviors to off-campus housing since changes to the Greek Recognition Policy were made last February. The administration claims it has a renewed commitment to curbing high-risk behavior in Collegetown but admits that its progress has been limited. While the University’s recognition of the problem and attempts to solve it are a step in the right direction, the revised rush week schedule and other joint efforts between the IFC and the administration have done little to limit the pervasiveness of binge drinking.

If the IFC and the University hope to see a true shift in drinking behavior in all venues of student life, members of the campus community will have to start thinking differently about how they approach their nights.