Richmond officials developed a new guest-list policy for fraternity lodges which became effective yesterday.
Alison Bartel Keller, director of Greek Life, said that the new policy was a result of a rise in concern for students' safety and student health.
The online registration is for all students who would like to attend a lodge function, Keller said. The only students who do not need to complete the registration are the brothers of that lodge, she said. But, if a brother wants to go to another lodge, he must register to do so, she said.
Here's how the new online registration system works: Once students receive an email from Keller, they will sign in, register and identify which lodges they are requesting to go to, Keller said. Students must register by noon on Thursday and will get a timely confirmation that the registration has been received with specifics about what guest lists the student is on, she said. Fraternities will receive that list and will use it at the lodges, she said.
"What's going to be interesting is that the perception is that you're going to have 3,000 people registering for lodge events," Keller said. "The reality is that's not true. I've tracked statistics of how many people are on their guest list and then how many have come and how many they've turned away.
"What I have been able to determine is that at this point in time, the number of people who come is far less than the people that are on guest lists. So, therefore I am not worried yet about the number of folks who are going to show up."
Students may register for more than one lodge, she said. But registering for a lodge would not guarantee that a student would get into the lodge, Keller said.
"It is not going to be a denial system at this point," Keller said. "But, if a person comes to the lodge, is on the guest list through the registration process, has been pre-partying and is obviously not in a position to be in a lodge, the fraternity has the ability to refuse them to enter the lodge, even though they might be on the guest list, as with every guest."
There has been positive feedback from students and fraternities about the new online registration process. The men, who have seen and tested it, think it is great, Keller said. The downside is that it requires people to think ahead and plan, instead of just being spontaneous, she said.
"I think it's a great because it streamlines the whole lodge risk-management experience," said Michael DiStefano, risk manager of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. "It protects us from potential liabilities."
Senior Ben Washburne, who is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said that the old guest-list policy had caused the fraternity to alienate friends through the one brother- to- three-guest-ratio policy.
"If you're forced to pick three people from the list, that's basically saying pick three out of however many friends you have at this school," Washburne said. "If you have 20 friends, what do you say to the other 17?"
James Fair, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said that Greek life had to come up with a new idea in terms of dealing with the University's concern over our ability to manage risk at on-campus events.
"It's up to the students to check the box's and submit the reservation to come to our lodge," Fair said. "It puts the burden on the student interested in attending the event to register ahead of time."
Senior Robert Heller said that the change in policy was good because with the old policy, the lines were long and most people in line had not even been on the list.
"I've never been on any of the lists and have always gotten in," senior Dan Popescu said. "If they stick to this new policy, I think it will be a better experience."
Andy Bloom, president of Kappa Alpha, said that the new system could be positive for the school, as long as everyone was on board.
"What I was most afraid of with the impending changes was that we would lose the inclusiveness of the Greek system," Bloom said. "The last few weeks have exemplified this concern, as our lists were limited to three-to-one guest ratios, forcing fraternities to have to turn people away in droves. I think that the new registration system eliminates the specter of exclusion by allowing everyone to register for the lodges that they want to be able to attend, while simultaneously cleaning the system up a touch."
Brian Cherry, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, said that he supported the new lodge registration system because it allowed for more thorough and accurate risk- management procedures.
Keller said that initially Richmond had been looking at the swipe card system. But, there had been a lot of concerns with that, so the school found another way to do it online without swipe cards, Keller said.
"Bottom line is that it resolves a lot of the issues relating to it," Keller said. "It allows us to keep statistics and allows us to have accurate information. One of the problems has been that people go to the lodges, sign in and use false names. That will no longer be able to be done."
Campus Police Chief David McCoy, who is also associate vice president for public safety, said that Keller had done a very good job enforcing policies that currently exist. McCoy said that he encouraged officers to be more interactive with risk managers.
"We have put mandates on ratios, checked for alcohol and bottles as students go in and are really raising the bar of what risk manager is supposed to do," McCoy said. "Intent of that is not to discourage someone from having a good time, but let's be responsible to some degree. It's about enforcing what already exists."
"We're not here to shut anything down," McCoy said. "There's a sense of responsibility that should be occurring at each of these locations."
Keller said that the goal of Richmond was not to create new policies.
"The last thing we want to do is be in the position where we have to call a parent with regards to a tragedy with one of our students," Keller said. "The idea is not to create policies to create policies, rather it is we have to be stewards. We are given responsibility that when students come to this campus parents entrust us with their students' lives.
"We have to do everything possible to create a safe environment as much as possible, and to alert students of dangers when appropriate."
Contact staff writer Rachael Specter at firstname.lastname@example.org.