Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Penn State Limits Freshmen Access to Greeks

Summer freshmen banned from frats
By Adam Clark and Sara Williams

In an effort to boost fraternity recruitment, Director of Greek Life and Advancement Roy Baker and the IFC have developed a new policy aimed at keeping all non-greek freshmen from partaking in social events at fraternities this summer.

In an e-mail sent Wednesday, Baker instructed freshmen students not to attend social functions at fraternity chapter houses during the summer session.

"We have already experienced several first-year students being in violation of University policy," Baker wrote in the e-mail. " ... while we welcome your interest in the sorority/fraternity community during formal recruitment in the fall, you may not visit fraternity chapter houses during the summer."

Baker believes by keeping the students away from fraternities, it will help with a new recruitment policy to be implemented in the fall. Under the new recruitment policy, students would be asked to partake in non-drinking events during the fall recruitment period, Baker said.

The policy is a new idea developed by Baker and new Interfraternity Council (IFC) recruitment officers to help the struggling fraternity recruitment efforts at Penn State, Baker said.

"There is not a university policy," Baker said. "There is an IFC policy."

Last year, 850 freshmen signed up for recruitment, but only 412 of them joined fraternities, Baker said.

If freshmen are found to be in violation of the policy, they could forfeit their opportunity to join a greek organization in the future, according to Baker's e-mail.

Baker said when he asked freshmen why they didn't want to join fraternities last year, they told him " 'all [fraternities] do is drink.' "

By keeping freshmen out of fraternities during the summer, Baker hopes freshmen will realize greek life is about more than alcohol.

"There's a new rush program going into effect in the fall. They are going to have freshmen come out and not participate in drinking events," Pi Lambda Phi fraternity President Dave Shanks said. "We understand we need to get our numbers up."

All fraternity presidents received notification of the new policy, Shanks said.

Baker wants recruits to see the service and philanthropy aspects of fraternities, he said.
"If we don't do recruitment right this greek system is gonna die," Baker said.

In addition to helping in the recruitment process, the policy also helps fraternities stay out of legal problems, Baker said.

"I've got several fraternities right now that are on the verge of losing their permit to have a house," Baker said.

Freshmen caught drinking may tell police where they were drinking, which can get the fraternity in trouble, Baker said.

"I know that it's important that greek functions remain greek for a variety of reasons, including safety," said Panhellenic Council President Ann Marie DiPietro.

Baker said fraternities also face an insurance liability by having non-members in their houses, especially those who are drinking underage.

"It's good ideals, but I'm just not sure how it's going to work out," Shanks said, "It's a big question of how we are going to enforce that the freshmen stay out."

Baker recognized it would be a challenge to enforce the idea.

"If you can't enforce something, you can't really call it a policy," Baker said.