This note has no desire to take a stance on Sigma Phi Epsilon’s current situation, as The Observer staff recognizes that some of their sanctions were based on accusations far more serious than underage drinking, and we in no way condone violating the law. Instead, this note aims to comment on how this situation reveals a deeper issue in the Greek community.
Greek Life is a community where many students can find the support of their peers in the form of brotherhood or sisterhood. However, some policies seem to undermine the support system within a Greek Life chapter, especially, the four-person policy, in which if four people from a Greek chapter are present at another party, then it becomes that chapter’s party as well as the party actually hosting the event. This policy is not a national policy, but a Case Western Reserve University policy specific to our Greek Life. This policy makes it difficult for people who are of age and from the same chapter to be together if they choose to drink together. The concern is that if students from the same chapter start preferring off-campus opportunities to drink, rather than on-campus conjunctions; it is more unsafe.
Greek brothers and sisters took a pledge to be there for each other. These are the people Greek members feel the safest around, but policies discourage members from drinking with the people who will protect them the most. Brothers and sisters are the ones that will stop a member when they have had too much and make sure they get home safe, and preventing them from spending time together may prevent members from utilizing safe drinking practices.
The Greek Life Office should use its influence to become a place where members can go when they encounter problems that starts to interfere with their lives. They should be able to turn to their support network without fear of losing their letters. The GLO needs to make changes to their policies that allow them to be proactive rather than enacting retroactive punishments. The recent membership reviews have created a fear that turning to the GLO for help will lead to punishment instead of solutions, even if that is not the case.
We do not wish to excuse our Greek Life community from breaking policy. In truth, we see great value in our Greek Life community and wish to see it get better. We do see room for improvement, however, and more room for compromise. Greek students must feel that they are supported in order for this community to thrive. If the GLO can take more student input about the way in which policies have impacted the community and weigh the positive versus the negative to ensure that there are optimal outcomes, we see a better future for Greek Life.