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“Cal Poly shouldn’t be focusing on these policies for all members of greek life. It should instead deal with the problem that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves: underage drinking at fraternity events.”

Mustang News Editorial Board

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Greek life leaders and Cal Poly administrators agreed on highly restrictive party and alcohol policies earlier this month, but the new rules don’t deal with the problems that need solving. The agreement’s broad swipes at greek life parties are unrealistic and seem to be doomed from the start.

The ban on hard liquor — even for those 21 and older — is the clearest example of where the policy is off base. Minors, of course, shouldn’t be taking a handle pull of Captain Morgan at a greek-sponsored event, but who’s to say a 22-year-old senior isn’t allowed to have a shot of whiskey because they’re at a fraternity party?

Students 21 and older are legally allowed to drink for a reason: The law sees them as prepared, both physically and mentally, to consume alcohol, and the school should, too.

Now, 21-year-olds are allowed to have hard alcohol, take shots and play drinking games at bars — just not at Cal Poly fraternity parties. It’s their right under the law to drink, and the university hasn’t yet offered a compelling reason why they should limit this otherwise legal activity.

The stated reason for banning drinking games and shots is that they encourage “inappropriate drinking behaviors,” which makes about as much sense as having fraternity members enforce these rules (but more on that later). Students who are of age are allowed to drink, and the post-college world is not going to limit their legal alcohol consumption. For these adults, it’s best to learn how to drink responsibly now. By discouraging that, Cal Poly presents an unrealistic picture of the world for its students.

Party registration on its face makes sense. It allows the university to know what events student groups are hosting, so officials can be on the lookout for potential problems. It also creates a way to hold the parties’ hosts accountable, with pre-set definitions for what constitutes a greek life event.

But Cal Poly shouldn’t be focusing on these policies for all members of greek life. It should instead deal with the problem that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it deserves: underage drinking at fraternity events.

The memory of Carson Starkey, a freshman who died in 2008 from alcohol poisoning during a hazing ritual, casts a large shadow over the greek system at Cal Poly. More recently, an Alpha Phi pledge was hospitalized in an incident the university deemed hazing-related in 2011. And it’s no secret dozens — if not hundreds — of underage students mob through the streets near campus on weekends with a fraternity party as their destination.

The new policy took a step in the right direction by requiring wristbands to drink at all greek events and a registered list of people over 21 at every party. But it’s not far enough, and there’s no guarantee it will be followed.

The problem with the new policy is the same as the one that existed before it: Enforcement comes from within the fraternity itself. Chapter members are tasked with making sure no one younger than 21 drinks, and hiring outside security is only “highly encouraged,” not required. It’s unclear if these monitors are supposed to confiscate their brothers’ hard alcohol at the door or intercept their beer pong shots mid-air, but let’s face it — should we expect them to do either one?

It puts the members in an unfair position to be forced to turn in their under-21 friends for drinking, and it’s a risky move by the university to put this much trust in organizations that often tacitly enable underage drinking.

Instead, the revised version of the policy — which must be finalized by the beginning of Fall 2014 — should mandate hired security to check identification and give wristbands to those who are of legal drinking age at the door of every party. Not only this, but the chapter, not the university, should have to pay for the bouncers. If greek life chapters want to throw parties, that’s fine, but they can’t use our tuition money or state tax dollars to do so.

Cal Poly can keep greek life parties safe, and it should start with a better enforced ban on underage drinking.

This represents the opinion of the Mustang News editorial board, which includes J.J. Jenkins, Carly Rickards, Sean McMinn and Olivia DeGennaro.

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