Instead of shutting down the Row, administrators need to find a better solution to campus drinking problems.
Let’s face it: Though the government shutdown might be over, USC students have a different problem to deal with it — The Row shutdown. The administration’s choices are solving all the wrong problems. By ending weekday parties, the administration does not properly address the larger problem of student drinking habits.
The shutdown has been a response from administration due to multiple transports this past weekend, as well as to a Loyola Marymount University student who is in serious condition after falling off a table at a party at Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Student Affairs characterized last weekend as the “worst weekend of the semester” in a letter to all Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council organizations.
A memo sent by the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Beth Saul and Associate Director for Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development Ray Carlos has since extended the rules of the shutdown, stating that fraternities and sororities can only host registered events between Friday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
The new rules also state that students will be required to show USC identification to attend events, and registered events must also be approved by the Los Angeles Fire Department. SAE is also on social probation.
But The Row shutdown is not going to change student drinking habits; it is simply going to change where they drink. Instead of houses with the Dept. of Public Safety within arm’s reach, other off-campus apartments and houses will become the new arena for drinking. This has been demonstrated by a surge in the number of Facebook events dedicated to such parties. It is time to find a permanent solution to dangerous drinking habits rather than the administration’s short-term solution of shutting down an entire community.
Furthermore, in dire situations, students afraid of getting into more trouble with the university or prolonging the shutdown of The Row will have absolutely no motivation to get their friends medical attention should they become overly intoxicated.
While the administration seems highly focused on implementing punishment, limiting the days of the week in which students can host parties is not a proper solution. This is not the root of the problem. Possible solutions include requiring more alcohol education events for both Greek and non-Greek students.
The current consequences paint a negative picture of the Greek community as a whole. These incidents grant the media yet another opportunity to degrade the Greek community. The fact is, the individuals transported were not all USC students, nor were they all for sure involved in the Greek community. Many reports fail to include the fact that while there were indeed eight transports this past weekend, only four of those transports actually occurred on The Row.
Making Greek organizations a scapegoat for an entire community’s drinking habits might sound credible in newspaper reports, but it is unethical in practice.
Also, the accomplishments of Greeks are often overlooked. Greek students hold some of the highest GPAs at this university. Greek men and women also host weekly philanthropic events. The shutdown now prevents these events from being held, in addition to parties.
College acts as a threshold for students who are about to enter the real world. Punishing students as if they are children does not do much to facilitate this oncoming real-world experience and does not create more responsible students.
Caroline Kamerschen is an undecided sophomore.
The administration is looking out for the best interests of the students in their decision to shutdown The Row.
Last weekend was what the administration termed one of the worst weekends The Row has ever seen for transports. Some measure of order and safety must be brought to The Row in the wake of these events. Dr. Ainsley Carry, the vice provost for Student Affairs, was absolutely correct in his decision to more strictly enforce the SCampus policies already in place for parties on The Row. USC has a moral obligation to keep students and visiting members of the community safe while near campus.
It’s important to first understand that Carry and the USC administration are not imposing new rules or regulations on The Row; they are simply enforcing the rules already codified by section G.6 of SCampus. The Row should be aware of these rules, since the rules govern its parties. No one should have a legitimate expectation that USC rules will go unenforced.
More importantly, though, USC has an obligation to keep students and the general public safe. USC cannot tolerate parties that endanger people. Row parties are too often unregulated; it is too easy for underage drinkers or people who have already had too much alcohol to acquire more, and over-intoxication leads to injury. Negligent behavior, such as the accident at Sigma Alpha Epsilon last weekend, can cause permanent and serious harm to people, and USC has an obligation to act.
USC students need to remember that this is about more than just wanting to prevent students from having a good time. USC wants students to have fun, as no one would want to come to this school otherwise. Part of the reason that USC permits Greek life at all is so students can socialize and have fun. But, as Carry noted, the Greek community has been unable to “promot[e] a safe and orderly social atmosphere through self-governance” this semester, and USC has a greater obligation to safety than to unruly parties.
Naturally, the university cannot reasonably expect that The Row or the USC community will follow SCampus policies exactly. As Neon Tommy senior opinion editor Francesca Bessey noted in her opinion article published on Wednesday, “Shut-down policies simply aren’t effective here. They leave students feeling angry, insulted and eager to find a loophole.” Just as Prohibition did not make the United States dry in the early 20th century, a dry Row is wishful thinking at best. Clearly stating that SCampus policies will be enforced gives USC officials and the Dept. of Public Safety the tools they need to deal with unruly parties and try to keep people safe.
Everyone involved in these kinds of parties might also have legal obligations to keep people safe. The university and SAE could potentially be liable for claims against insurance for the injuries of last weekend. The university has reasonably chosen to act to prevent negligent behavior, which could result in tort claims in addition to proving a threat to safety.
Safety is the university’s biggest concern when making these decisions. If The Row has to make some sacrifices to prevent injury, then that is a price it should be willing to pay.
The five traits of a Trojan are Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous and Ambitious. It’s time to add “Responsible” to that list as well.
Dan Morgan-Russell is a sophomore majoring in international relations .