On Friday, Oct. 19, on-campus fraternities held their first, highly anticipated lodges of the year under new Interfraternity Council rules that have generated mixed reactions among students.
The new IFC regulations, which were adopted in accordance with new rules mandated by the national Greek-life organizations, apply to on-campus events with alcohol. Each fraternity member is now allowed to invite only three guests to each event. Alcohol is not served, but 21 or older guests can bring their own six-pack of beer.
These new risk management rules were adopted in response to several deaths that occurred last year at fraternities across the country as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
Several UR students said they worried that the new policies were too restrictive and may have the effect of driving parties off campus where there is no oversight by campus police.
Sophomore Ally Maner, who regularly attended lodge parties last year, said the lodges were her favorite on-campus social activity because they were open to all students and were closely monitored by local police.
“Lodges were always such an inclusive environment," Maner said. "I got to see girls in my [sorority] chapter and other chapters as well. They attracted students from all across the spectrum. Lodges exposed me to all sorts of people on campus."
Maner also said she thought the lodge events were safer than the off-campus parties at student apartments that have taken the place of lodge parties so far this year.
“One problem with the new lodge rules is that students are forced to go off campus to party, where they drink more hard alcohol instead of beer," she said. "Last year was much safer and more efficient."
The president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity agreed that the absence of lodge parties this year resulted in more parties being held off campus.
Despite the concerns, the first lodge parties appeared to go safely and smoothly. The most common complaint among students seemed to be that the new guest policy makes the lodges too exclusive.
Sig Ep used wrist bands to track their invited guests. First-year Caroline DeVita said it was difficult to get wristbands before Friday night lodges.
“It was a hassle to get wristbands without knowing anyone in Greek life," DeVita said. "I was very confused at how the process worked. I didn’t know if we needed to RSVP."
That sentiment was echoed by Alex Swift, another first-year, who said she had been particularly disheartened after learning that a group of five friends from her orientation group could not go to a lodge party because they were not able to get invitations. Swift said the new guest limits made it especially hard for first-years who do not know a lot of fraternity members and therefore can't get an invitation.
Maner reiterated this idea.
“It’s not accomplishing anything except making campus more exclusive," she said. "It also limits freshmen and non-Greek life students from attending. This makes it exclusively Greek-life-oriented."
Senior Rachel Bochner, who has regularly attended lodges since her freshman year, agreed that the new guest policy would be particularly hard for first-years and non-Greek life students.
“I know that the new rules were made for safety reasons," Bochner said. "My only worry is that since people have to get wristbands, it makes the lodges more exclusive, and freshmen or people not in Greek life might feel less welcome."
The president of Sig Ep agreed that the new policies will have the effect in the near term of making the lodge parties seem more exclusive, but he said his fraternity would be looking for ways to open the parties to more students.
“Lodges [are] more exclusive than in the past," he said. "But, over time, I think we’ll find ways to be more inclusive to the campus. The way that everyone looks and thinks about lodges just has to change. It just takes time."
The focus of most fraternities was on safety and security. At Sig Ep, the risk team consisted of 12 brothers who checked all students to make sure they had wristbands before swiping them into the lodges.
Sophomore Gavin Haas, a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, said the members of the fraternity’s risk team were clearly on guard for any potential violations of the new rules.
“The whole risk team was a lot more on edge," Haas said. "There were a lot more restrictions."
Haas acknowledged that the new IFC rules were created to ensure students’ safety, and he said he believed the lodges would indeed be safer this year.
Despite the long wait and restrictions on attendance, many Richmond students welcomed the return of the lodge parties and had a good time.
“The only major difference was that there was no alcohol being served," the Sig Eg president said. "Otherwise, risk was pretty similar and the atmosphere was generally the same."
Contact lifestyle writer Sarah Price at email@example.com.