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Different recruitment rules reflect gender disparities

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

From Thursday, Feb. 1, to next Monday, Feb. 12, all National Panhellenic Council (NPC) sororities maintain a "dry period." Anyone already in a sorority or participating in recruitment is not allowed to go Uptown, attend or host parties with Interfraternity Council (IFC)-affiliated men, or participate in their recruitment in any way.

During the same period, male students looking to rush a fraternity will be heading Uptown and to off-campus houses, bonding with potential future brothers over cold beers.

The "dry period" rule highlights a gendered disparity between the ways fraternity and sorority recruitments are framed. Those rushing fraternities are often invited Uptown to Happy Hour-style events in order to meet their potential brothers in a social setting. Alcohol, for them, is a normal part of hanging out. On the other hand, a sorority recruitment process free of alcohol represents an unrealistic ideal of purity -- an expectation that when women socialize, alcohol is not involved.

While the intention behind the "dry period" policy is presumably to reduce the amount of alcohol related incidents during the recruitment policy and uphold Greek life's core values (community, philanthropy, leadership, etc.) rather than partying, history has proven the policy to be ineffective.

The "dry period" imposed by the NPC ends the day after Bid Day, when the women find out which sorority they will join. It's a day that has come to be known informally as "Blackout Monday."

Last year, in an effort to decrease the amount of alcohol-related violations on that night, "Blackout Monday" was simply pushed back to Thursday. Miami made headlines all over Ohio that weekend, when the Oxford Fire Department was called 21 times to deal with overly intoxicated students. Most of them were female and underage, though it's not certain how many had received a sorority bid earlier that week.

This "dry period" simply creates events like "Blackout Monday" or "Blackout Thursday," and makes it easier to ignore that alcohol can be a problem for sororities. While sorority drinking is less publicized than fraternity substance abuse, it's still an issue.

Nationally, Greek life is in a vulnerable state right now. A sophomore Beta Theta Pi pledge's death at Penn State University last February sparked nationwide fury -- and a conversation about alcohol abuse in fraternities. Penn State shut down its Beta Theta Pi chapter, then all fraternity social activities. Several other schools across the country followed suit after experiencing their own incidents. Three other schools have banned Greek activities almost entirely, following alcohol-related deaths of fraternity pledges.

Consequently, Greek life is under national scrutiny, and Miami is not exempt. In recent years, seven fraternities and one sorority have either been suspended from Miami for violating the student code of conduct or had local chapters revoked by their organizations' headquarters.

Greek leaders have been cracking down on rule violations this recruitment season. But rules like the "dry period" and trying to prevent rushing males and females from interacting have not proven successful in the past. They continue to superficially patch problems instead of addressing them at their root and working to fix them long-term.

These antiquated and gendered rules Greek community members must adhere to, along with other non-rush-related ones -- like sororities not being able to have houses as fraternities do -- feel arbitrary at this point. And while sororities and fraternities are not run by the same national entity (they're dictated by NPC and IFC, respectively), they are still connected by the nature of their organizations. It doesn't make sense for sororities to be governed by such strict sets of rules, while fraternities are not.

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