All parties on DePauw University’s campus have been put on hold since before Thanksgiving break.
“It’s not so much that things have been canceled, it’s that everything was canceled,” said Assistant Dean of Students, Julia Sutherlin. “And then some we have said okay, yes, you can still have yours and some we have said no, we are still in this pause because there are some things going on.”
After Thanksgiving break there was a meeting between fraternity presidents and Vice President for Student Academic Life, Alan Hill, to discuss events that have happened on campus. “As a result of things that had happened involving alcohol, sexual assault, and diversity and inclusion, he (Alan Hill) sat down with all of them and put a pause on all events,” Sutherlin said.
In addition to the pause on events, according to Sutherlin, Hill tasked the Interfraternity Council to work on issues across campus before they could lift the hold on parties. Recently, IFC has been forming committees and is working to make sure to address issues across campus.
Since the campus ban on parties, Campus Life has been evaluating what events can be registered and approved. “What we have done in the interim is work with chapters on a case by case basis of when they are registering events,” Sutherlin said. She estimated that the University has approved about 80 percent of proposed events.
However, this process has not been perfect, according to fraternity members. “I have found the CLCD has been especially short-staffed this year, which has led to delays in registration. We had an event get cancelled the day of, after we had repeatedly reached out to the CLCD office for information,” said senior Sigma Chi social chair, Jimmy Otteson. “I am very cognizant of the the amount of work that each individual has each day, but it has certainly been frustrating at times.”
Sigma Chi fraternity has tried to register two events this semester which were canceled. The first event was canceled due to probation from the previous semester. “I found this experience to be fairly easy and the CLCD office was very accommodating in terms of scheduling a time to meet with me,” Otteson said. “I found out before the registration deadline that we could not have this event, which is as good as anyone can ask for.”
According to CLCD, all of the organizations have been given adequate time to undo arrangements. “Anytime we have said no to a chapter, I have met face to face with all of those chapter presidents and given them plenty of notice to undo any plans that have been done,” Sutherlin said.
However, Sigma Chi had an event canceled the Friday before the Monon Bell game and received notification that their event registration was denied on Wednesday.
“We were told that our event would be cancelled, but were encouraged to try to reach out to CLCD to clarify what the issue was. We were not able schedule a meeting until late Thursday afternoon, and then told to schedule a separate meeting on Friday,” said Otteson. “Finally, on Friday in the afternoon, we were finally told that our event was formally cancelled due to a pending Community Standards Charge, which we still have not formally received.”
According to Sutherlin, if a party is held that has been denied registration, the organization might have to go through the community standards process and might be charged with a failure to comply.
“We lost $1,500 on our first event, which again, we understood the rationale, despite being disappointed,” Otteson said. Sigma Chi lost an additional $2,500 on their second canceled event according to Otterson.
Similarly, Alpha Tau Omega’s Commando Party was shut down. “We actually had everything arranged and then about 24 hours beforehand we were informed that weren’t allowed to have Commando,” said president of Alpha Tau Omega, John Gbur. “So yes there were financial burdens that did pertain to having Comando shut down.”
“I think that working with CLCD and the University there could be a miscommunication between them. I don’t know how well they deal with each other, or how they affect each other,” Gbur said. “So we work with CLCD, but we don’t really work with the University. I think that they’re trying to change the culture in excessive fashion and I think that it needs to be a slow decrease instead of kind of jumping the gun.”
Despite complaints, CLCD will continue the pause on parties and hopes that fraternities will continue working with them.
“In general, we are holding student orgs to the expectations that you need to register things, when they are not registered that is a problem,” Sutherlin said. “If you have had events that weren’t registered, then you’re probably not going to get to have your next event because you’re not following our policies. If you are in the community standards process, that could be another reason about why you won’t have an event approved.”