Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, October 19, 2018

AU limits room decoration for Greek Big/Little Week

Members of Greek life organizations are finding it more difficult to enter and decorate new members’ rooms during Big/Little Week in accordance with new regulations.

Student Activities created the regulations to coincide with Housing and Dining rules in the Student Conduct Code to reduce trespassing, said Curtis Burrill, the University Center’s assistant director for fraternity and sorority life.

“This new expectation follows the HDP policy and helps reduce liability for the organizations,” Burrill said. “It also ensures our residential students are not disrupted in any way with this experience.”

Upperclassmen are allowed to visit new members’ residence halls, but they can only decorate one half of the new member’s door if that inductee has a roommate, according to the Student Activities regulations obtained by The Eagle. Greek members must also be escorted by Housing and Dining staff if they enter a residence hall in which they don’t live.

New members cannot give keys to their rooms to other chapter members, according to the regulations.

Decorating Greeks’ rooms has been an important part of Greek life as a way of introducing new members to a fraternity or sorority, AU Panhellenic Council President Leslie Reid said in an email.

“All of the sisters on campus have gotten the same experience from their big and it is definitely something that women going through recruitment got excited about,” Reid said.

However, similar room-decorating traditions aren’t as common among social fraternities, according to Interfraternity Council President Gabe Menchaca. To assuage similar trespassing concerns, men in social fraternities on campus decided a few years ago to require IFC leadership to accompany Greeks visiting prospective new members or “bids.”

The new regulations prohibit:
● Visitors unaccompanied by a resident or staff
● Escorting or permitting “entrance to any nonresident of a residence hall who is not known to the student or for whom the student does not assume responsibility as a guest.”

Chapters that violate these new rules will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution Services.

“Roommates that are not involved in Greek organizations may not have enjoyed having sorority women enter their rooms in order to decorate,” Reid said in an email.

Burrill approached Housing and Dining a few weeks ago to review these new regulations, Chris Moody said, assistant Vice President for Housing and Dining Programs.

Discussions on these rules have been ongoing for the past year, Burrill said.

The AU chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity on campus, received word of the new regulations on Feb. 16, the day before the beginning of the fraternity’s Big/Little Week.

“It’s very hard to change a tradition like this in a few hours,” John McHugh, the president of AU’s AKPsi chapter said.

Instead, the professional fraternity limited Big/Little celebrations to other ways to welcome new members, including giving them gifts or utilizing other spaces on campus rather than residence halls as the “main vehicle” for celebration.

Alex Hitchens, president the AU Eta Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, similarly said the professional service fraternity would hold Big/Little week decorating elsewhere on campus.

Reid also said that the new restrictions force Greek members to more creative.

“While women were disappointed,” Reid said in an email. “The relationship is still the most important thing to come out of Big/Little week and changes in decorating procedures will absolutely not change that.”

zcohen@theeagleonline.com


Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.