While acknowledging some advantages to members-only parties, many from the greek community have expressed opposition to the idea that the administration would discourage open parties on campus.
Administrators have not suggested any sort of rule that would make parties members-only, but Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta noted at a Duke Student Government forum Sept. 2 that he has been encouraging the greek community to make parties smaller and more low-key.
"Ten years ago the greek community controlled Duke social life," he said at the forum, which was attended by a collection of administrators, police officers and students. "Recently I've told the greek world that their parties should be for their members. It just means smaller, more private parties."
Many fraternity presidents said they were unaware of this recommendation and that for the immediate future, they would continue to hold open parties, as well as members-only events.
A common sentiment was that open fraternity parties benefited the general University community as well as the host organization.
"There are a whole lot of Duke students who enjoy the greek scene who aren't members of the greek scene," said Mike Thornton, a junior and president of Beta Theta Pi. "We enjoy having a lot of new people come."
The advantages of members-only parties, as described by Assistant Dean for Greek Life Todd Adams, are generally practical in nature.
"From a risk management perspective, if you know who your guests are or who's in attendance... you have some semblance of who is there and you have some control over the numbers," Adams said. "When you have a completely open event, you don't know if you're going to have 100 or 300 people. You might not even know the people in attendance, so if something happens, who's responsible?"
Adams also said fraternity sections on West Campus were ill-equipped for large-scale parties. "Most of our sections in the commons rooms can barely accommodate the members themselves for a chapter meeting, much less groups of hundreds or more," he said.
However, Interfraternity Council President Brett Green, a senior, said the nature of sections also made members-only parties difficult, since controlling the numerous entrances to sections is a daunting task and blocking the doors creates a fire hazard.
A large number of both administrators and students said they felt that members-only parties should not be enforced by the administration at the expense of open parties.
"There should be a happy medium between stuff that is members-only and stuff that is campus-wide," said junior and Sigma Nu President Andrew Axelrod, who said his fraternity and others host a variety of members-only events that are less publicized in the University community.
Moneta himself acknowledged there would be several drawbacks to creating a rule enforcing members-only parties, saying that such a move would be overly restrictive, would create an environment where following rules is the primary target and would sacrifice spontaneity and casualness.
For Moneta, the point is to avoid a legislative environment and instead stress the wide variety of social options available for students. "The fundamental message is [this is] unlike the past, when the fraternities really felt an obligation to provide core entertainment for all students," he said.
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