EDITORIAL: Panhellenic drinking restrictions make women the outsiders at campus parties

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Traditionally, students all over campus would be waking up late today with headaches and queasy stomachs, sick from over-drinking due to last night’s celebrations.

This year, due to Inter-Fraternity Council restrictions, there will be penalties for IFC chapters that chose to hold social events for any non-member during the night called “Black Monday.” This editorial board does not disagree with the anti-Black Monday stance adopted by IFC insofar as it relates to class attendance. However, there are possible solutions within the Greek community that might reduce safety hazards and make celebrations like last night’s cancelled festivities a possibility.

On January 19, the New York Times published an article titled “Sorority Anti-Rape Idea: Drinking on Own Turf,” in which the author, Alan Schwarz, argued that allowing sorority women to hold parties—with alcohol—in their chapter residences would contribute to safer campus cultures. 

There is something to be said for the home court advantage. It may not be possible to claim that this proposition would cause sexual assault numbers to drop, or would even encourage safer drinking habits. But if a woman is in a space she knows well, surrounded by other women, it is hard to argue that she would not at least have a feeling of greater safety than she would in a home that is not her own. 

This editorial board understands that by disallowing alcoholic on Panhellenic property, Panhellenic is attempting to hold Greek women to a higher standard. Unfortunately, instead of staying inside their houses and staying sober, this rule only makes it more likely that Panhellenic women will drink elsewhere.

At a surface level, this is an issue of women of the legal drinking age not being able to enjoy a class of wine, or even a nice strong shot of bourbon—if that’s what she prefers—in her own home. On another level, this is a potential solution to an ongoing safety issue. If women had more control over the social landscape of DePauw, it is possible that events would be more controlled, would contain more risk management and would create an atmosphere of heightened security for attendees.

Of course, allowing Panhellenic women to drink in their homes brings with it inherent risks. It is by no means certain that this is a viable way to control partying, and a measure like this one might instead backfire leading to an even more ingrained culture of binge drinking. However, a move like this one, or at least an open discussion about this possibility, might lead to safer events, where women feel more in control. The home court advantage is not one to be lightly disregarded, and it is an advantage that might make a night like Black Monday once again possible.