Since I have been involved in Greek life, I have witnessed, semester after semester, organizations being punished for underage drinking.
There have been a few initiatives that have tried to curb this trend, Inter-Greek Council's Student Judiciary being one of them. This panel assembles when a Greek organization is accused of violating IGC bylaws, and it has the authority to punish organizations based on evidence (evidence being a rather vague term in this case).
The Student Judiciary and policies like sober rushing represent IGC's attempt to achieve legitimacy in the community through self-regulation. By uniting as a community, the hope is that we can solve our own issues without the forceful hand of college officials.
After Arman Partamian's death, with the police stalking every bar, house party and late-night pizza shop, Greek organizations certainly need legitimacy. In a misguided belief that Student Judiciary would actually live up to this lofty ideal, I welcomed the chance to sit on the committee.
I will be blunt: Student Judiciary has failed to live up to this vision. I could describe the committee using trite metaphors involving three-ring circuses or madhouses, but a circus involves some notion of gaiety or light-heartedness; the problem with Student Judiciary is far from humorous. Regardless of any explicit statement denying this, Greek organizations at Geneseo are in widespread approval of underage drinking. The survival of fraternities and sororities on campus is only because of this fact. Any denial of this is a denial of reality.
Thus, any type of self-regulation that seeks to legislate against underage drinking, in any form, is against the core belief of every Greek on this campus. So, when a sorority parades into a hearing, with its metaphorical hat in hand, I cannot help but be shocked by the ridiculousness of the whole enterprise. Fellow Greeks chastising each other for behaviors in which they all engage.
The Student Judiciary is just a game of "Gotcha!" One of your new guys puked in front of Mia's? Gotcha! Did you forget to untag pictures from that "dry" rush event? Gotcha! One case that was brought before us was based on a few Facebook pictures that someone anonymously sent to the dean of students. That these pictures were "discovered" due to some inter-sorority feud was obvious, and yet the judicial panel crinkled their eyebrows and listened intently to the evidence. Besides these Facebook pictures, "evidence" amounted to rumors originating from the bathroom of the Inn Between.
When it came time to hand down a punishment, there were cries for blood. The flimsiness of the evidence aside, these hearings were more role play than real life. The panel acted as the appalled college officials, although I was scared that at any moment the organization that was before us could break this charade and, justifiably, label us as hypocrites.
By external appearances, however, the hearing was a success. Rational, objective members of the Greek community handed down a fair and decisive punishment to an organization that had violated IGC policy. As I left the meeting I could already visualize the dean of students giving his pitch to the district attorney: "Look at our fine, upstanding Greek community! They can even regulate themselves!"
We should not be acting as instruments to impose college policy. The IGC coordinator and dean of students can do a fine enough job punishing violators without our support. If we, as Greeks, really wanted to establish our community as legitimate, we should seek to approach our social activities in a more acceptable way; we should not enforce policies to which we are fundamentally opposed.