A welcome back to the same old Row

It’s the first week back at school, so we all know what that means: new classes and lots and lots of partying — cue the fraternities’ Spring 2010 recruitment process, which launches this weekend with a series of pre-rush house parties.

Pre-rush has been largely celebrated for years among the USC student population — for some it’s an opportunity to preview fraternities they might be interested in joining or partying at this semester.  For others,  it’s an opportunity for some free booze.

The USC Interfraternity Council is always the subject of harsh scrutiny on campus. Any time recruitment rolls around the skeptics start shaking their heads and pointing their fingers as they scorn all the ruthless debauchery that takes place on The Row.

Daily Trojan | Julia Vann

Prior to formal rush week, most fraternities host large parties during pre-rush, the week prior to rush, in order to create buzz and draw in a greater amount of potential new members. In the past, the parties have been known to get a little out of hand — leading to some inevitable black-outs and vomiting — which does little to help to showcase benefits of the Greek system to skeptical parents of eager new rushees.

In a move to address these concerns, the rules surrounding pre-rush parties have changed drastically in the past year. Fraternities are no longer allowed to serve hard alcohol and freshmen may not attend. The new regulations also help even the playing field between all the different fraternity houses during recruitment, though it seems that larger houses will always have an advantage.

While the new rush regulations might dampen some of the fun, they represent a positive step forward for USC’s Greek system to better improve its reputation and ensure the safety of our students.

The main concern, however, is whether or not the moves are actually effective in improving student safety, or if they merely give the illusion of positive change. The new regulations do little to promote moderation.

Is it not true that students can get just as drunk off of champagne and beer as they can on vodka and rum? And who exactly is checking everyone’s I.D.s to ensure that no 18-year-olds sneak through the doors?

It seems USC might just be cracking down on IFC in order to dispel the university’s reputation as a party school.  The new regulations provide the Greek system with a fantastic opportunity to promote its concern for safety, but not much has changed except for the fact that some girls are now staying home because they do not like the taste of beer.

There’s not much that can be done to improve the safety standards of fraternity parties without eliminating them altogether or posting policemen at every house door. Fraternities throw parties and students attend; that is simply the way of The Row. It is truly up to the students themselves to make wise choices. No one is going to force you to do a keg stand or, for that matter, to encourage someone else to do one.

It is reassuring to see that IFC at USC is taking an active interest in what goes on over on 28th Street, but their influence can only stretch so far. The changes might have been put into effect for the right reasons, but whether they have any positive impact really remains to be seen. For now, everyone planning on heading out to the Row just needs to make intelligent and safe decisions, and try to have some fun.

Amy Baack is a senior majoring cinema-television production and a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

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