On Nov. 1, two students at the University’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house were stabbed while attempting to remove patrons from the premises. Following the incident, the security measures taken by fraternities for their parties have come under scrutiny. While SAE’s party wasn’t sanctioned by the Interfraternity Council, most fraternity events are required to be, which means fraternities must follow strict guidelines and go through a brief security session to ensure the safety of attendees. Although it’s difficult to determine whether the incident at SAE could have been prevented at an IFC-sanctioned party, an overhaul of the current fraternity security system should be discussed, as well as University-provided security training for all students, regardless of where they live.
Under IFC guidelines, fraternities are required to have some members on guard — called sober monitors — at each party, with the number of them needed depending on the size of the event. Each year of pledges for each fraternity are trained to understand the responsibilities of a sober monitor, which include controlling who enters parties, helping those who have fallen sick and keeping the party itself under control. This training, as well as abiding by IFC sanctions, is beneficial for the fraternity. IFC-registered parties are surveyed twice a night and sober monitors are tested to ensure sobriety.
However, the system is not without its flaws. The training is not entirely comprehensive — only a single, one-to-three-hour lesson is required. There is also a general lack of uniformity between the training of fraternities and sororities, as some sororities are required to take GreekLifeEdu — an alcohol education course designed for Greek Life members — while fraternities are not. In order to improve this system, both pledges and brothers should take refresher courses on sober monitor training at least once a year to ensure party security remains up to the latest standards.
On a larger scale, the University should consider implementing similar training for all students. The University has acknowledged the realities of student life outside of campus with its Stay in the Blue program, so expanding the program to training shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities. Most of campus is outside of the jurisdiction of the IFC, so the current lack of training creates an unnecessarily dangerous environment. The University has a history of distancing itself from fraternities that violate sanctions, but administration must both come to terms with the fact that students are involved with these organizations and embrace an opportunity to improve safety across campus.
The IFC sanctions offer the best model to ensure fraternity safety. But its flaws in minimal training for sober monitors coupled with the lack of alcohol education across Greek life are concerning. While the University should acknowledge the independence of the IFC, it should also begin working on a program to increase party safety for all students — Greek-Life-affiliated or not. Maintaining the safety of its students should be a top priority for the University, even if the events occur off-campus.