Monday, May 23, 2005

Moratorium, Again

From Marcia Riley's e-mail resent today:

There have been many questions with regard to the specifics of the current moratorium. As stated in the letter issued on Monday, May 9th 2005 by Dean Kenney, this moratorium is in place until further notice and prohibits any chapter sponsored events with alcohol either on-site or off-site. This includes but is not limited to:

  • parties, exchanges & invitationals
  • philanthropy events
  • alumni events
  • BBQs
  • activities hosted by summer boarders on chapter property
  • parties / celebrations with alcohol hosted by individual chapter members on chapter property
Exceptions to the moratorium will be considered on an individual basis. Requests for exception must be submitted in writing at least ten working days prior to the event and will require meeting with an OSL staff member for review. If you have specific questions regarding these provisions, please email dosl@berkeley.edu.

Though I can see how drinking has a strong correlation to unhealthy behaviors and actions that disturb the peace, I fail to see how banning alcohol at ALL events will be productive. Especially glaring are the last two points. How can the school, or anyone for that matter, really ban alcohol consumption by individuals? And, how can fraternities hold boarders accountable for drinking? These are unrealistic and reek of Prohibition--and we all know how that ended.

Furthermore, even though there is allegedly a task force that is geared at reducing underage drinking throughout the campus and not only the Greek system, it is unfair that only one segment of the student population is banned from having alcohol; if this is the case, then every single one of the 28,000 or so undergraduates and even all the graduate students (because 21+ residents in fraternities cannot drink) should not be allowed to drink. I fail to see how "ending" drinking, either in one segment of the population or the whole population, will solve any of the problems that are supposed to be solved.

Any thoughts?

Monday, May 16, 2005

IFC Election Results

The new IFC president is Andy Solari, who was philanthropy chair for the IFC for the 2004 term.

His qualifications include one-and-a-half years as president of Zeta Psi fraternity, a year on IFC, and a year on J-Com. He was also involved with the Cal Lobby Corps, and is affiliated with Cal Dems.

He delivered a very good speech in front of the emergency Presidents' Council meeting held yesterday at Delta Upsilon. In it, he advocated working with the University but also holding firm--achieving a balance between compromise and "flexing muscle." Significantly, and also lacking from the other candidates' speeches, he is aiming to work not only with chapter presidents and the University but with other groups on campus such as the ASUC.

It was interesting to compare the five candidates. Andy was definitely the moderate in the mix, with Tom Rupp from Sigma Nu appearing to be the most conciliatory and Ian Richardson from Sigma Chi appearing to be the most hard-line. Phil Zackler from FIJI and Gordon Wilson from Delta Kappa Epsilon also ran.

Although the situation of having to elect a new IFC president in the middle of the year is never favorable, the summer will give Andy and the execs some time to transition into the new presidency, and will allow the IFC and all other concerned bodies to work with the University on reversing the moratorium. Hopefully, the summer will stop the crazy incidents that have been popping up in the Greek community and make room for cooler deliberations.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Moratorium... looking forward

First of all, I think it's a serious conflict of interest for me to blog here. While I do have a lot of thoughts about "frat" life in general, I've decided this isn't the best forum for me to post them. So, this will be my second, and final post.
As I bid adieu, I would like to share a few thoughts on the current situation of Cal Greeks...

Now is the time to look forward. I know it's frustrating and a lot of us know that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the focus needs to be on what we can do to make our community better.
We need to open our eyes to the fact that our community isn't perfect, and focus on creating positive change. It's definitely easier said than done, but my vision is that in the near future we will go down to 102 Sproul and figure this all out... calmly, rationally, and professionally. Coming out of it with a realistic and enforceable plan of action.
Life isn't fair, the university comes down on the Greeks faster than anyone else when it comes to alcohol and parties... we are who the media loves to pick on, and frankly the university has more authority over us than over any other student entity [sans the dorms].
Seriously though, let's not cry over spilt milk, let's move on.
Although I adamantly believe that a moratorium was not the best plan of action [having one affects those who follow the rules the most], what's done is done.
I know emotions are running high[if you try to tell me that a moratorium was a good idea, i'll probably still get a bit huffy puffy], I strongly believe that now is a time to look forward. Anybody who is interested in finding the solution, please get in touch with me at nith@berkeley.edu .

Greek Alcohol Moratorium Announced

MEMORANDUM
May 9, 2005

To: Chapter Presidents & Leaders of the Greek Community
Fr: Karen Kenney, Dean of Students
Office of Student Life

Re: Immediate Suspension of Alcohol at All Chapter Events

During this academic year, there have been a number of significant incidents within the Greek community about which I am gravely concerned. The significant increase in the number of non-compliant Greek sponsored events as well as concern raised by a number of reported hazing incidents in chapters throughout the Greek community obligate the University to take action. Such disregard for the policies and procedures designed to assist your chapters in having safe events is unacceptable.

Effective immediately and until further notice, there shall be a moratorium on all fraternity and sorority events with alcohol, both at chapter and university houses and at off-campus events.

Be advised that chapters that violate this moratorium shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including the revocation of chapter recognition by the University.

If your chapter has prior plans for hosting an upcoming social event with alcohol, you may continue to host this event as long as the event is alcohol free. This moratorium applies to all chapter events, including those taking place at locations outside Greek chapter houses and off-campus.

While I recognize the recent efforts that have been made by leadership within the community, late incidents leave me no alternative at this time. In an effort to identify the root of these ongoing risk management challenges, a working group including students, staff and alumni will begin this summer to lay the groundwork for long-term solutions. This group will continue to convene and progress until there is significant change within the community. The moratorium will remain in effect until such time as the level of compliance and progress within the community justifies ending it.

Any questions may be directed to the Greek Life Staff.

Cc: IFC, Panhellenic, NPHC and Multicultural Greek Executive Officers
Greek Affairs Staff
Student Judicial Affairs Staff
City of Berkeley Partners (UCPD, BPD, BFD, Dwight Hillside Association)
Chapter Primary Alumni Contacts
Fraternity Alumni Council
Panhellenic Alumni Advisors Council

the worst of times?

So, Andy beat me to it...
my first post is about the letter [e-mail] writing requesting an increased dialogue between Greek leadership and university officials, considering the particularly alarming nature of recent public comments. A shorter sample letter is below.

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau,

Recently, rumors in the Greek Community have abounded that a moratorium on alcohol is impending. These rumors have been fueled by media attention in which high-ranking University officials have consistently mentioned the possibility—even likelihood—of a moratorium. As a member of the Greek Community, I feel that there are many valid arguments as to why this moratorium is ill-timed, unreasonable, and unlikely to solve the problems at hand. It would be a great injustice to make such a wide-sweeping decision without even consulting the leadership and members of the Greek Community so that you might receive this alternate point of view. I urge you to speak with the Greek Community leadership and hold a forum for the members of the Greek Community to give you feedback before you make any decision on this important issue.

Respectfully,

it would be nice if people could send it in to moratorium@lists.berkeley.edu as soon as possible. maybe i'll put up some thoughts about this next week after i'm done w/ my finals. good luck everyone!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Continue Writing Campus Administrators with Your Concern About a Moratorium
For those unfamiliar with this, IFC has urged concerned Greeks to send e-mail to moratorium@lists.berkeley.edu, which will go to various campus administrators, voicing our concern over a possible alcohol moratorium. Here is the sample text of an e-mail, and I would encourage other students can cut and paste sections of this to send off also.

To whom it may concern:

My name is XXX, a fourth year member of XXX. I have served four different positions of my chapter’s executive committee, including as president. Speaking on behalf of myself, XXX Fraternity [or Sorority], and all other Greek students and chapters who are affected by a moratorium, I am shocked and dismayed at the lack of good faith, due process, and ultimately, disrespect shown to the Greek community by the university's administration. I speak to my chapter's president on almost a weekly basis about general topics of discussion within the Greek community, and for the past month all I have heard from him is how the administration is making it harder and harder for the Greek community to thrive, let alone exist. With the outlandish fines and long-lasting probations placed on chapters for minor violations, as well as the general witch-hunt attitude that is permeating the Student and University's judicial offices, many chapters are struggling to make ends meet and sustain their membership.

When I was told that there was a possible moratorium on the horizon, I asked if there was anything that I could do. I was told by my president as well as other members of the Greek council that there were meetings planned with Vice-Chancellor Padilla and Dean of Students Karen Kenney. I was encouraged by this news because I remember that when a moratorium was in effect three years or so ago, the administration was quick to work with the Greek community on an effective inclusive solution. Over the past three years since then, I have worked extensively with the IFC and Greg Smith, Kevin Roy, and Taz Patel, where they were provided with proper resources and outlets to voice concerns, as well as with capable advisors to create a sense of proactive problem-solving between the administration and the Greek community.

However, just recently I was told that the administration's representatives have not showed up at any of the planned meetings and have refused to discuss the situation with any of our chapter's presidents and other representatives of the community. I find this disrespectful to the thousands of students who are members of the Greek community and have basic civil rights that are being infringed upon by over-bearing policies designed to solve a problem that is over-blown within the Greek community, yet is not even being discussed campus-wide. We are all aware that there have been recent events that have shed a bad light on the Greek system and have been a publicity nightmare for the university. However, those are isolated incidents that should not cloud the administration's judgment when dealing with the Greek community as a whole. I feel it would be an overstepping of boundaries to punish the more than fifty Greek chapters on campus for the mistakes of a few.

The other thing that seems to be missing from this discussion are the positives that the Greek community brings to the University as a whole, including tens of thousands of dollars in philanthropy, hundreds of hours of community service, and more school spirit than most of the student body can muster on any given day. I realize that there is pressure on the University to respond to some of the incidents that have occurred over the past weeks, but I find it unacceptable that the administration might come to a unilateral decision affecting thousands of people without hearing the opinions of the people a broad stroke punishment would affect. As a concerned CAL student, Greek member, and Brother to the thousands of other students who have found a home within the Greek community, I implore my fellow students to speak out and make their voices heard, because otherwise the university has no intention of listening.

If anyone would like to discuss the issues with me further, feel free to
respond to me at XXX or XXX.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Office of Student Life Hires New Greek Advisor
Please join us in welcoming Melissa Lang to UC Berkeley as an Advisor and Program Coordinator for Greek Life. We are very excited to have Melissa join our team and we believe her perspective and skills will help the Greek community to both surpass current challenges and continue to realize excellence in the years to come.

Melissa is currently finishing her Masters degree in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Arkansas, where she has served as a Greek Advisor for the past two years. In addition to her academic career, Melissa has worked as a Legislative Assistant in DC and served as a consultant for Alpha Omicron Pi. Through her experiences with Greek Affairs she has advised Panhellenic and co-advised NPHC. She has coordinated the expansion process for Panhellenic, advised to the Greek programming board and Up 'Til Dawn and facilitated multiple leadership programs such as Greek 101 and a new member retreat. Melissa also initiated new programs such as the first annual Greek Week and Hot Pink Ribbon, an organization where sorority women educate other sorority women about violence against women. She completed her internships with Judicial Affairs at the University of Arkansas and in Orientations at George Mason University.

I am sure you will all have an opportunity to get to know Melissa personally over the coming months and the next few years. I know she is looking forward to working with the entire Greek community and our colleagues for quite some time. She hopes to make it to Cal by the beginning of July!