November 1, 2019

GUEST ROOM | Proposing a Freeze on Mixers in Greek Life

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I urge members of the Panhellenic community to consider the power we yield in regard to changing unsafe party culture on this campus. I ask that Panhellenic’s 13 chapters unanimously vote to stop attending mixers at fraternity houses until the following demands are met by the Interfraternity Council President’s Council and Executive Board:

  1. An action plan demonstrating tangible ways they will cease dirty rushing, including forms of punishment for chapters that engage in dirty rush events.
  2. A commitment to make their events safer in the following ways:
    1. Scanning IDs of every individual in attendance and fully marking over or under 21 years of age.
    2. Having Cayuga’s Watchers, who are students trained in both bystander intervention and sober monitoring,  at every event hosted by a fraternity.
    3. At least one sober monitor at every exit of the chapter house to check that individuals leaving the house are able to arrive home safely, and have sober people offer rides for those who need transportation home.
    4. A poster with the definition of affirmative consent at the front of every chapter house that will be read aloud by party attendees upon entering.

I acknowledge that Panhellenic members participate in and are accountable for some of the unsafe behaviors that occur at fraternity houses. During this time of not having mixers, I ask that Panhellenic chapters do the following:

  1. Conduct a council-wide sober monitor training.
  2. Create systems to ensure that no first-year students are present at Panhellenic social events in the fall.
  3. Enforce and strengthen punishments for Panhellenic members who attend fraternity dirty rush events.

If Panhellenic chapters feel confident that we have strengthened our own risk management policies and IFC chapters have demonstrated that they have mechanisms in place to ensure their events are safer, Panhellenic will begin mixing with fraternities on a probationary period. If any fraternity is found to be in violation of the commitments listed above or any other event management policies, Panhellenic chapters will discontinue attending mixers until the rules are adequately followed.

I acknowledge that this is not a perfect solution to the issues of how dangerous Cornell parties are. Many events take place off campus or in other environments. I believe the University can help support safe partying in those spaces, and I hope that they consider creating policies that can facilitate this. Nonetheless, I believe it is our obligation as Panhellenic members and Cornell students to do anything in our power to improve safety at parties.

If you are a member of Panhellenic, please consider your role in this. Unsafe partying may seem inconsequential, but it has real consequences on the Cornell community. If you are not involved in Greek life but care, please voice your beliefs to your peers in Greek Life.

The Panhellenic Council will be voting on freezing mixers for the foreseeable future on Wednesday, Nov.6 at 6:30 p.m. in Willard Straight Hall 413. Each Panhellenic chapter has one vote. Members of the Cornell community are welcome to attend.

Maya Cutforth is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the president of the Cornell Panhellenic Council. Comments may be sent to opinion@cornellsun.com.