By Ashley Marcus
Since this month’s ban on fraternity social events in response to sexual violence, Emory students have sought alternatives for social events on the weekend.
Students have reported straying from their typical weekend events on the row to more intimate gatherings both on and off campus with friends. Rather than getting ready for Friday night frat parties, students like College freshmen Torrin Jacobsen and Jake Cronin are spending more time doing anything from studying for their midterms to using Uber car service to catch a movie at Phipps Plaza or to get to Opera Nightclub for some music and dancing.
On Nov. 3, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced a self-imposed ban on fraternity social events on campus in response to a Nov. 2 sexual assault at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and other previous sexual assaults. IFC has said it will lift the social ban once it has created “tangible and proactive steps” toward social wrongs in its culture, according to a Nov. 3 IFC statement.
Torrin said that he believes the call for a pause in Greek social events has pushed people to explore Atlanta and to go places they may not have taken the time to visit otherwise.
While some students like College freshman Dana Shustik are participating in smaller, more subdued social gatherings on and off-campus, College freshman Samantha Resin said that the lack of fraternity parties on campus has also led them to venture more frequently into bars like Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill or MJQ, a local nightclub on Ponce de Leon Ave.
Although, on the whole, students have observed the IFC’s ban, Resin said she doubts the effectiveness of the freeze in preventing drinking and partying. “There have still been a lot of parties going on,” she said. “People go to a lot of off-campus fraternity houses, and they still go to different bars and clubs in Atlanta … Overall, it’s a good warning that [IFC] closed down frat row, but it’s not stopping people from partying at all.”
According to College freshman Hayley Alperin, students have been seeking off campus parties hosted by fraternities, sports teams or clubs affiliated with Emory. She said the freeze has had virtually no impact on their social lives other than the location of their events. However, parties off campus come with their own set of problems. When students attend parties off campus, they are faced with the challenge of securing a method of transportation back to campus late at night and maintaining their safety in an unfamiliar setting.
Resin said she feels that having parties off campus will put students in a position in which they will be pressured to drive drunk, and that it would be safer simply to have these parties on campus. In response to these issues, Greek organizations have developed systems to look after their members when they are partying off campus, such as designated driver programs.
“We have several brothers who have volunteered to sober drive if someone needs it,” College senior Oliver Paprin, vice president of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity, said.
According to College senior Jane Singer, a member of Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sorority, sober sisters volunteer as designated drivers and care for those who need help.
The social freeze has also led students to re-evaluate their understanding of sexual violence on campus.
“I’ve had friends say, ‘I didn’t think this would happen here,'” College freshman Rachael Leader said. “I knew it was a college campus. It doesn’t really surprise me in any way.”
According to an email sent out to the entire Emory community by the IFC, the ban on social events on the row will be lifted after they have created proactive steps to respond to instances of misconduct.
“It shows a lot of dedication and passion by the student body to try to resolve [these social] issues,” said College junior and Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity member Matty Simon. “It shows that we truly do care about our campus – Greeks, non-Greeks, regardless. We seek change, and we want change.”
One way that students have been working to create positive change is by engaging with Emory’s Sexual Assault Peer Advocate (SAPA) program and, in the wake of the IFC social freeze, SAPA leaders, such as Vice President of Advocate Training and College senior Becca Woofter have reported an increased number of students getting SAPA trained.
“Just by being SAPA trained, there’s this sense of knowledge and awareness on campus such that even if an advocate never speaks directly with a survivor, he or she is more self-aware in their actions and how they conduct themselves on campus,” Woofter said. SAPA trains students to become advocates for sexual assault prevention and distributes information about resources on campus for reporting dealing with sexual assault.
The training program is meant to prevent sexual assaults by spreading awareness about the definition of consent as well as by teaching advocates how to fully support survivors of sexual assault.
“It’s really exciting that we are in a place where these conversations are happening,” Woofter said. “I’m thankful for these brave individuals who came forward and decided to report […] I do hope that they feel supported and that they have resources on campus.”
– By Ashley Marcus, Contributing Writer