The following is an open letter to President Martha Pollack.
Dear President Pollack,
Underage drinking, particularly of hard liquor, has and always will exist on college campuses. Since neither you or I can change the legal drinking age, I would hope we could ensure that when this drinking does occur, it occurs in a regulated environment.
The banning of hard liquor from chapter houses inevitably does nothing to the amount of hard liquor consumed by college students, but rather changes the locations in which this consumption occurs. Rather than occur in an environment in which there are sober monitors and university policies in place, such as Greek mixers, they will occur in unregulated off-campus environments. Some of the leading academics on the matter are at our university, such as Professor Sonnenstuhl of the ILR School, and will tell you that regulated and visible environments for drinking are crucial. What was once a small drinking and sexual misconduct issue will become a silent but deadly matter.
In an effort to hold fraternity men more accountable, thousands of women have had their safety jeopardized by this rule. This is not us crying because we want to party with fraternity men, but rather because we feel infinitely more comfortable knowing our closest friends are drinking in regulated atmospheres rather than in unknown off-campus environments. I know that myself, and many of the women I hold dear, have experienced the grave consequences of binge drinking and sexual harassment in the apartments of others rather than in the safety of a Greek mixer in which we have dozens of women looking out for one another.
I understand your experiences with Greek life are not pleasant. I am a Michigander myself and have witnessed the social culture at the University of Michigan. However, the policies that were implemented at the university have not reduced the amount of drinking that occurs but only the visibility of the locations and accountability of those in which it happens.
Subjugation of any student is unacceptable, and it must come to an end in and outside of Greek life. Removing the safe spaces for students to conduct normal college drinking behavior, however, is not the answer.