BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD
As with many colleges, a staple of Centre’s student culture is the frat party; nearly every weekend, any number of the school’s six fraternities will open their houses to the student body for a night of themed outfits, blaring music, and dancing away the stresses of the week. Banners hung in Cowan build anticipation for the weekend as many look forward to going out with friends and forgetting their looming assignments for a night or two. Fraternity houses provide a space for students to come together outside the classroom, an opportunity that is limited on Centre’s campus by fire codes and other regulations.
As principal providers of social events on campus, there is a lot of pressure on fraternities to host parties and make them successful. This involves a lot of time-commitment, advanced planning, paperwork, and more–no easy task in a demanding environment like Centre.
This begs the question, why does the burden fall only to fraternity men?
This is just what the women of one Centre sorority found themselves asking. Recently, the Beta Phi chapter of Delta Delta Delta (TriDelta) decided to change up campus culture by throwing a party of their own. This idea manifested in the Battle of the DDDJs, an event with sisterhood, panhellenicism, and philanthropy all in one party. Men from each fraternity were invited to DJ for an allotted amount of time, and attendees determined the winner by donating a dollar per vote to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
The party took place Friday September, 30, and went off without a hitch, raising over 1200 dollars–but not before overcoming some major obstacles.
Though this event was no different than the typical 11-2 fraternity party, the fact that it was hosted by a sorority led the event to be treated as an unprecedented and risky endeavor, and not unreasonably so. Fraternities generally pay higher dues because they have the insurance required to regularly host parties. Sororities, however, do not, thus necessitating a strong risk management plan for the protection of the students, TriDelta, and the college.
There is no downside to limiting risk–everyone benefits from a safe environment and some cautious forethought. The party culture at Centre makes safety a priority, requiring easily-identifiable sober monitors, swiping in and out of parties, and regular walk-throughs by the campus Department of Public Safety (DPS). While the various methods of risk management are always well-intentioned, it is still important to think critically about the implications some of them bring. In this case, male sober monitors.
As TriDelta worked with Centre Greek Life to establish a risk management plan, the use of male sober monitors from each fraternity was suggested. This inherently is not a bad idea, as the fraternity men have experience hosting these kinds of events on a weekly basis. However, this solution has raised many questions and created a campus dialogue on the implications that come with male sober monitors as a way to reduce risks.
While this was the first sorority-hosted party, this was not TriDelta’s first experience with potential risk. Each year, TriDelta hosts a late-night philanthropy event called DHOP selling pancakes in the warehouse; many of the same concerns that apply to parties, such as intoxicated students and fire codes, must be taken into consideration at this event as well. Similarly, all sororities hold formals, which incur much greater risks with elements such as cash bars thrown into the mix, yet male sober monitors are not suggested for these events.
It should also be noted that sororities and fraternities undergo the same risk management training process. Essentially, the only advantage fraternity sober monitors offer is more experience, something that could easily be remedied if sororities were given more opportunities to throw parties.
Apart from creating a risk management plan that Greek Life was comfortable with, TriDelta was faced with other challenges in their efforts to put on the first sorority-hosted party. In addition to being encouraged to use chapter funds to pay an off-duty DPS officer to monitor the event, the sorority was also given the stipulation that failure to manage the risks would mean they could not host DHOP that year.
Centre College is often billed as “a place where important conversations occur.” However, why should these conversations be limited to vice-presidential debates or discussions of the liberal arts inside Crouse? We should grapple with this question of sororities throwing parties. Why should it be a radical suggestion for the women of TriDelta to throw their own party?
During the Cento’s conversations with the Student Life Office and students about the party, it was repeatedly noted that recruiting male sober monitor’s is a common practice for other late-night events that incur additional risks. However, we were left wondering why. Yes, there is some superficial truth to the argument that the average male, owing to his stature, is capable of being more physical with potential troublemakers. But this then implies that fraternities–if they are seeking to deliver the safest possible party environment–should recruit only their largest and strongest members to sober monitor. Yet sober monitors are not given training on physically removing party attendees, and instead their duties revolve more around assisting partygoers who become too inebriated–a duty that women and men can certainly accomplish equally.
While the Cento acknowledges that the ins and outs of insurance, risk management, and social life are far too intricate and delicate to be synthesized in a single editorial, we can begin a meaningful conversation about what it means to host a party. Throwing a party can be an empowering experience, it brings brothers and sisters together in a common space to deliver an enjoyable evening to campus. We at the Cento would like to applaud the women of Delta Delta Delta, you’ve taken a large step forward in advancing our conversations and pushing Centre’s Greek Community into a place of empowerment, of enabling sorority women to have more agency in our college’s social life – and we hope that our school encourages all sororities to do the same.