Dean of Students Jean DeCosta is looking into three reported fraternity parties that allegedly occurred while greek life was on probation.
Students dressed in party attire carrying half-empty fifths down the street and bouncers in costume welcoming people to a fraternity party: This most certainly was not what Cal Poly administrators had in mind when they placed greek life on social probation this quarter.
For five consecutive weekends, Cal Poly greek life has been barred from partying because of delays in the approval of a new party registration policy. But an unenforceable ban on parties isn’t a ban at all, and what we’ve seen these past few weeks has highlighted the complications of enforcing rules on a population that doesn’t want to follow them.
While walking and driving in the neighborhood near campus on the night of Feb. 7, we saw at least two parties that attendees said were fraternity-affiliated: one at an apartment with widely-known ties to Phi Kappa Psi, and the other at a house that attendees told us Pi Kappa Alpha was using to host a party.
The president of Pi Kappa Alpha declined to comment, and Phi Kappa Psi’s president didn’t return multiple requests asking for more information.
Since then, we’ve learned the university is “looking into” these two parties, as well a third that was reportedly affiliated with Delta Sigma Phi. Dean of Students Jean DeCosta, who took over supervising greek life since an organizational shift was made this year, declined to provide further detail on what her office has found so far.
Several factors make parties — both greek and non-greek — difficult to regulate. They can be at any location, can take place at any time and aren’t always at a central location of the organization that hosts them.
But as we’ve seen during the first half of this quarter, regulating fraternity parties is especially difficult for one reason: The parties’ hosts just won’t cooperate.
The two parties we saw were likely just the tip of the iceberg. Materials engineering sophomore and Sigma Nu member Sam Randall said he’s heard of parties going on throughout the duration of probation — and that it’s essentially common knowledge for Cal Poly students.
Other greek life members scoffed when asked about the fact that they haven’t been allowed to have alcohol-related events for the past five weekends. We also saw Interfraternity Council President Domenic Hjerpe speak with police at a house which attendees said hosted a Pi Kappa Alpha party on Friday. Hjerpe told Mustang News that the party was not a fraternity event.
On Wednesday, greek life leaders and administrators agreed on a party registration compromise with rules that are even more nuanced and therefore more difficult to enforce than the complete ban we’ve seen the past five weeks. The policy will supposedly end shots, pre-gaming, drinking games and hard alcohol at greek life events. It also requires parties to end at 1 a.m. and for chapters to submit paperwork 10 days in advance if more than 100 people are planning to attend.
Under the new policies, a “student managed alcohol team” will be enforcing the rules on the ground. But greek life chapters already had something similar at their parties with sober monitors, and it was a rare occurrence that a chapter was sanctioned because a member turned them in for something alcohol-related, such as underage drinking. Trusting these sober fraternity members to put an end to shots, hard alcohol and drinking games is risky, if not foolish.
The compromise, which was the result of months of work from both greek life leaders and administrators, seems to be the best chance Cal Poly has at bringing fraternity parties in line with their vision of what an off-campus party should look like. But if I didn’t expect to see any fraternity parties when I drove around on Friday during probation, I’m not holding my breath everyone will be following the rules next Friday.