Andrew Logan Lawrence, Chief Justice – Armstrong State University Interfraternity Council
In the April 28, 2016 issue of The Inkwell, an article entitled “Are we really a “dry campus?” was published in the Opinions and Editorials section by Copy Editor, Kylie Fields. I, along with other members of the Greek Community, found the article to be exceptionally hostile in its evaluation of the value of Armstrong’s Greek Organizations, and found the facts presented in the article to be irrefutably inaccurate.
I currently serve Armstrong’s Greek Community in a leadership capacity, as the Chief Justice of the Interfraternity Council. Yes, the Greek organizations which many of you believe socially run-a-muk, answer to formal, organized, governing councils (The Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and Multicultural Council). All of this is spearheaded by the Office of Student Life.
It comes as no surprise that like a majority of other social facets in this age, the image of Greek Life has been strongly swayed by film, television, and music. Yes, we’ve all heard Asher Roth’s “I Love College.” A study done by the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Assessment and Knowledge Consortium revealed that on 31 university campuses, 42% of the students surveyed disclosed that they have a negative view of Greek life. Of that percentage, over half of the students with negative perceptions revealed that they had never actually taken the time to interact with Greek students. So, where are these negative views coming from? I would tack them to pop culture. think that students who harbor negative opinions of Greek Life fail to realize how much our presence on campuses, like Armstrong, benefit universities. Every Greek organization on campus is required* to plan and participate in a number of community service and philanthropy events. For instance, my organization, Kappa Sigma, raises over $3,000.00 every fall for breast cancer awareness. We also contribute $1,000.00 a year to the Military Heroes Campaign, which is a campaign that is near and dear to our brothers who are Veterans. A closer look at the photo that accompanied the article (yes, the one with the beer can in the newsstand), indicates that the April 12, 2016 issue of The Inkwell covered Pi Kappa Alpha’s 48 Hours Homeless event, where they spend the weekend outside to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness, and to take clothing donations for shelters in our area. Releasing images of beer cans into the public, which are sitting on top of articles covering a Greek philanthropy event that is raising awareness for the homeless, and then proceeding to blame the Greeks, is in bad taste. This does nothing to help change the perception people have of our organizations. This pushes us ten steps back. Also, it was stated in the article that the beer was still cold… No fraternity or sorority on this campus would hold an event, where alcohol was served in the middle of the day, during classes. That brings me to my next point…
Per the Office of Student Life, let it be known that Armstrong State University has never allowed, and will never allow Greek Organizations, or any other organization for that matter, to hold events on-campus where alcohol is served. Greek Organizations are required to hold wet social events off campus, and have always been required to do so. We comply with the regulations of the University just like other organizations. Armstrong is a dry campus, and Greek organizations have always complied with that policy. Also, in the defense of the Housing Office, there are restrictions in place to regulate alcohol consumption in the University’s 21+ communities (Crossings and Terrace). Students in these communities must be 21+, they are only allowed to consume alcohol in their apartment, and are not allowed to have an open container in their apartment if students under the age of 21 are present. That policy seems pretty controlled.
The “Risk Management Plan” on the Greek Event Registration page that was referenced in Ms. Fields’ article is not quite as simple to gain the approval of as she made it seem. If anything, Greeks, who may I remind you, are solely social organizations, take an extra precaution in their event planning process that organizations like the RSO, Go Green, Anthropology Club, do not take. Those organizations are devoted to service, academics, environmental awareness, etc. Our events are always registered with the school, and if they are not, sanctions are handed down. Once an organization registers an event, the Office of Student Life ensures that if an organization is holding an event where alcohol will be served, that the alcohol is being distributed by a licensed, third party vendor, or the event is BYOB (You all know what that is. Don’t play). I can speak for the IFC when I say that any event where alcohol will be consumed is in compliance with the North-American Interfraternity Conference Standard, and that every chapter is aware of these standards. (And FYI, BYOB does not constitute bringing as much alcohol as you want. The standard that we enforce is one-six pack of beer or wine coolers per person). NO HUNCH PUNCH. NO KEGS. Once the registration is processed with the Greek Life Office, copies of the registration are forwarded to our headquarters for approval (They’re way stricter than Armstrong), and our chapter advisors (Usually a faculty members, or alumni).
I would also like to discredit the idea that we pay for alcohol in our dues, or that we have “bought the right” to have socials with alcohol. No amount of money that we take in through our dues can be used to purchase alcohol. That is against Armstrong’s policy, and every organization’s national bylaws. Armstrong does not directly benefit from moneys collected through dues or events, so to insinuate that the University is allowing us to drink because we bought our way in, or that they
contribute to us financially, is incorrect. Greek Organizations are self-funded. We need our money to pay national dues, liability insurance, etc.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that Greek Organizations on Armstrong’s campus have never, and will never hold events where alcohol is consumed on this campus. We do not purchase alcohol through our dues (I would be happy to supply copies of my organization’s bank statements; I’m Treasurer), and Armstrong does not accrue money from the collection of our dues. What we can learn from all of this is that if you reach out to someone in Greek Life, get to know them, and learn what their organization is about, then maybe, you can gain a new appreciation for the service that they bring to our community.