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Freshman at Princeton University Now Face Suspension for Pledging a Fraternity or Sorority

By / 05.02.12

It's a move similar to the one Yale made for its incoming freshmen back in March. According to the New York Post, any student who helps freshmen participate in a fraternity or sorority also faces suspension. In an official capacity, the Princeton administration has a long-running policy of not officially recognizing Greek organizations because officials feel they “promote social exclusion and excessive alcohol consumption.” Yet 15% — or roughly 800 students — belong to 12 off-campus fraternities or sororities. The Washington Post has an interesting pull-quote:

Jake Nebel, a Princeton junior who belongs to Alpha Epsilon Phi (SIC) and served on the committee that came up with enforcement recommendations, said he believes university officials underestimate the benefits of Greek life.

“Given that a lot of students aren’t fully satisfied with social opportunities outside of Greek life, I think it will be bad for freshmen interested in fraternities and sororities not to have that option, not to have the opportunity to connect with upperclassmen,” said Nebel, former president of his fraternity. I don’t think Greek life has the negative effects attributed to it, and I’m not really sure why the ban on freshman rush would really help that. But that’s something I think the president needs to assess next year, not only whether it’s being complied with but whether it’s achieving the goals they set.”

Nebel said the university deserves credit for establishing clear rules on what constitutes a violation.

The policy invites so many “what ifs” and ambiguity, more or less slamming the door for students to attend any Greek-related social events during freshman year. via the Princetonian:

But beyond formal events, the definition of a Greek-sponsored event remains relatively ambiguous. Though the committee focused most of its efforts on events that fall “in the middle of the spectrum” between casual conversations — which, the report emphasized, are permitted — and affiliation — which is not — many fraternity and sorority members expressed concern about the perceived lack of clarity in terms of what exactly constitutes a Greek-sponsored event.

The report stated that while social interactions between fraternity or sorority members and freshmen would not inherently be considered a violation of the policy, indications of sponsorship by a Greek organization included “an invitation to participants on behalf of a fraternity or sorority; the use of fraternity or sorority funds to support the activity; or an announcement or other explicit identification of fraternity or sorority sponsorship.”

Regardless of your stance on fraternities, it seems awfully childish. I feel bad for any incoming froshie who gets caught in cross-heirs of the policy by associating with a group of older friends that happen to be in a fraternity. By the time freshman year rolls around, most students are usually 18 and intelligent grown-ups in the eyes of the law, capable of their own decision-making. What do you think?

Brandon Wenerd
About Brandon Wenerd... Brandon Wenerd is BroBible's senior editor, guru of @brotips, and director of strategic partnerships. He joined BroBible in the fall of 2009 after graduating from Penn State. When he’s not writing, Brandon enjoys fishing, Phish, Philly sports, Dewey Beach, supporting live music, hot sauce, and beer. E-mail him with post ideas and news tips:

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