The Office of Campus Life at Albion College has issued a pause on social events in fraternities and sororities, citing a concern about the possibility of sexual assaults occurring at Greek events.
The pause, intended to last until Saturday, was issued at a meeting between the administration and Greek leadership on Sept. 9 at the “Greek Retreat,” an event that had been planned since the end of last semester.
Rory Angott, Grosse Pointe junior and president of the Albion chapter of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, said that the pause was announced by the administration informally and conversationally during the meeting, when many members of the Greek community were anticipating that after the meeting they would be able to hold parties.
Project Coordinator of the OVW Campus Grant, Kaydee Hall, explained that the decision was made in coordination with a number of members from the administation. Hall’s job is to oversee the distribution of funds provided by the federal government to assess issues of sexual violence.
The decision to pause parties, Hall said, was done in an attempt to mitigate the possible sexual assaults that can occur during the Red Zone, a period of time from the start of the semester until Thanksgiving break when sexual violence occurs at a higher rate.
“Over 50% of campus sexual assault – any kind of sexual violence – will take place during this period of the academic year,” Hall said. “We don’t have accurate data to reflect what that looks like on our campus, but we have no reason to believe we are any different from any other college campus in the country.”
Hall said that the rate of sexual violence at this point in the semester can be attributed to a number of factors.
“First-year students haven’t really found their group,” Hall said. “[They] haven’t formed those group norms as a campus cohort, and perpetrators of sexual violence see that and are able to prey on that.”
Hall hopes that the Red Zone can be a period of time for students to build connections and relationships while receiving comprehensive education about consent and safety while partying.
Unlike the last time a decision like this was made, it has widely been met with understanding.
“I wasn’t surprised, I was expecting it,” said Angott. “I think most chapters are okay with this decision. They get it.”
Acceptance of the policy is not universal, though, Angott said. Some houses have continued to host parties despite the pause.
Tim Bullock, Dayton, Ohio senior and member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, said that he completely understands the decision, but also recognized that many people don’t.
“It doesn’t matter how much this administration says people can’t throw parties,” Bullock said. “People will find ways to throw parties.”
Bullock also said that the communication from the administration has been lackluster and that it’s possible some of these parties were thrown by houses who did not know that parties had been canceled.
“One of the biggest issues on this campus is lack of communication,” Bullock said. “It can really hinder Albion’s successes.”
As the Greeks work through the Red Zone and the pause on parties, Bullock sees it as an opportunity to develop a standard approach to make parties safer, but he worries that there is not enough communication.
“How are we educated on the Red Zone? How do we, as members of Greek life, prevent assaults?” Bullock said. “How do first-years know what to do at parties when they feel uncomfortable?”
Bullock said that when social events are shut down, people become unfamiliar with how to party safely. He feels that this can be a time to provide resources and information to make Albion’s parties safer.
The Greeks that I spoke to all shared one similar complaint. They feel that the communication from the administration has been confusing. They feel that their concerns often go unheard.
Assistant Dean of Campus Life Sharese Mathis is who called for the pause. Although in the past some Greeks on campus have described an unsteady relationship between themselves and Mathis, others maintain that they have a positive, beneficial relationship with her.
“I know some people don’t feel this way, but I love her,” Bullock said. “I think if people were to have a one-on-one conversation with her, they would really appreciate her.”
Mathis could not be reached for comment.
The landscape of college campuses across the country is changing, and Albion – both students and administrators – are looking to change in stride.
“We are in a time of change. Things have to change,” Angott said. “The way I look at it, these are necessary changes that we will have to adapt to, and we will be what we can in that environment.”
Resources and information for survivors of sexual violence can be found in the Anna Howard Shaw Center for Gender Equity at https://www.albion.edu/offices/anna-howard-shaw-center-for-gender-equity/resources/.