Leah Horner and Benjy Egel
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The presidents of various Cal Poly fraternities voiced their responses to the St. Fratty’s Day party where a roof collapsed and injured nine people at Monday evening’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) meeting.
Many presidents felt greeks should not be blamed for the event, as it was open to the community and was not a registered IFC party. IFC president and kinesiology and communications senior Alex Horncliff noted that a number of uninvited guests came from out of town.
“We didn’t provide any alcohol, we didn’t provide any infrastructure. There were a lot of people there who didn’t even go to Cal Poly,” Horncliff said.
Alpha Gamma Rho president and soil science junior Brad Kurtz mentioned that, in addition to the non-Cal Poly students, there were also student representatives from other on-campus organizations who ought to be held to the same standard as greeks.
“Campus is almost trying to pin this on us … I saw people on sports teams; I saw club sports; I saw clubs in general,” Kurtz said.
Many presidents said if greeks had not been on social probation, the partying would have been more spaced out and fewer people would have been at the congested event.
Delta Chi president and mechanical engineering senior Alex Campbell said that no matter what, students will drink, and the most regulated place to do so is a fraternity party.
Fraternities are required to register all parties with the school. Drinking games, hard alcohol and beer bongs are not permitted at parties. Many fraternities have “sober bros” to be designated drivers on weekends.
We should be working on having safe fraternity parties rather than taking them away, Campbell said.
“I guarantee you if (a roof collapsed) at one of your parties, every single person would have been running trying to help out,” he said
When the roof collapsed, IFC Vice President of Judicial Affairs and communications senior Luke McDade said some greek members ran toward the wreckage and began pulling people out. Others began clearing bystanders away from the destroyed house, pushing people into the street away from injured people.
“I personally am proud of a lot of guys in this room. A lot of you guys were actually doing something to help, unlike people who were just standing around taking videos,” McDade said. “I’m personally proud to be a greek member after seeing what you guys did and how you reacted that day.”
IFC emailed Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey immediately after the collapse to let him know the party was not a greek event. Humphrey responded saying it raised concerns based off of IFC’s ability to hold responsible events since there were many greek leaders present, as seen on Facebook and through pictures and videos from the event.
Fraternity and Sorority Life coordinator Kathryn O’Hagan said administrators she spoke with had a split view of who should be held responsible for the party. Some see greek life being pinned for an independent party, while others think fraternity and sorority members are trying to deflect responsibility for their actions.
With a name like St. Fratty’s Day, people naturally associate the party with fraternities, and it was in fact started by one. Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) founded the event back around 2006 at 364 Hathway Ave., where it was held on Saturday, according to Horncliff.
Sig Ep was disaffiliated from Cal Poly before the start of the 2011-12 academic year, but old members continued to live in some of their satellite houses, including those on Hathway. There are no longer members living at the “pink house,” around which the party occurred on Saturday, Horncliff said.
“This is the first year that Sig Ep isn’t here and isn’t throwing it. But that house is historically known for doing it, regardless of the occupants,” he said. “And so whoever lived there probably realized that people were going to congregate there with no reliable way to stop them with anything short of putting a barricade in front of the house.”
Residents of the house boarded up windows and put a sign up reading “No Roof” on Saturday. The roof that collapsed was on an adjacent property.
Delta Sigma Phi (DSP) president and business administration senior Derek Morefield said Cal Poly students as a whole were to blame for how the party got out of control, not just greek life. Members of fraternities and sororities who attended the party Saturday should share an equal burden with the other Cal Poly students who were there.
“What would this have looked like if everyone had registered their own St. Patrick’s Day event? I guarantee you the roof wouldn’t have collapsed,” Morefield said. “It’s up to us to see how we can party safer.”
City of San Luis Obispo Neighborhood Outreach Manager Christine Wallace spoke at the beginning of the meeting, saying she was “disappointed, sad and a little emotional” at the chaos on Saturday morning.
While Wallace acknowledged that fraternity and sorority members were not the only people at the party, she said the houses could have done more to prevent it from getting so crazy, like pushing brothers and sisters not to attend. She beseeched fraternity presidents to step up as leaders and stop out-of-control partying at Cal Poly before things get worse.
“If I have to see another impaled leg with a giant splinter this year, I’m going to freak out,” Wallace said. “Does it take someone dying for you to get it? Because the behavior we saw this weekend says yes.”