Some anonymous Miami University fraternity and sorority members say parties as large as 200 people have been thrown in basements of fraternity houses in an attempt to avoid mass gathering penalties.
Three Miami students spoke to The Miami Student about their experiences with these parties under the condition of anonymity.
One first-year fraternity pledge said these large-scale parties began just recently.
“[Fraternity and sorority parties] started about two to three weeks ago,” he said. “Before then, there were small amounts [of people] hanging out. About three weeks ago, we started getting it going. I’d say generally there’s about one to two every weekend.”
The pledge also said he thought fraternities have been more willing to host larger parties recently due to the warmer weather, decreasing COVID-19 social expectations and boredom.
“[Fraternity members] have been throwing crazy parties throughout college, and when [the pandemic] hit, the attitudes changed,” he said. “No one was having a great time.”
While fraternities are still hosting parties, the pledge said they have been keeping gatherings out of public view to avoid being penalized under mass gathering laws.
“Obviously, we don’t want any penalties, so we have to keep it quiet,” he said. “If we kept it too loud, the university would not treat us too kindly.”
Kimberly Vance, director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life, wrote an email to The Miami Student regarding the rules and regulations in hosting mass gathering parties, as well as the expectations of fraternity and sorority life surrounding them.
“[Parties of more than 10 people in a crowded area] are the same for all RSOs (registered student organizations) – not permitted on campus, can’t use ASG funding, [must] utilize third party vendors/venues like restaurants and bars and [must] follow the health department and COVID-19 restrictions on capacity, seating, distancing and mask requirements,” Vance wrote.
If a fraternity or sorority party of more than 10 people was discovered, Vance wrote the chapter in question would receive a citation through the Office of Community Standards’ (OCS) disciplinary process.
Vance said other restrictions placed on chapters may include prohibiting sophomore members from living in fraternity houses, as well as having restrictions on social functions for a period after pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
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“The consequences for having an OCS sanction such as probation are not desirable,” Vance wrote. “The penalties could be quite severe.”
A first-year sorority pledge said she had attended six or seven fraternity parties this semester, one of which was discovered by the police. The pledge said she didn’t think the fraternity hosting the party, which she said was thrown on Feb. 16, was given any severe punishments.
“I was at one party, and they shoved us out of the basement and into separate rooms,” she said. “I think [the fraternity was] left off the hook, like this is a warning.”
Another first-year sorority pledge said she had attended “a few” fraternity parties, including another separate party discovered by the police on Feb. 20.
“When the police came, we were told [by fraternity brothers] to separate ourselves into different rooms,” she said. “After that situation, I am actually unsure if anything happened to that fraternity.”
According to Oxford Police Department (OPD) records, there were no mass gathering ban citations given on the date of either fraternity party.
One sorority pledge said one party was thrown in the basement of a fraternity house with “anywhere from 100-200 people” gathering without masks or following other COVID-19 preventive guidelines.
This pledge said she thought those hosting the parties were tired of having to stay socially distanced for a long period of time, and to cope, parties were hosted.
“You can’t stop living your life,” she said. “We can’t be cooped up for so long. Frat parties are a way of life to feel semi-normal.”
OPD OPD Lieutenant Lara Fening referred The Student to Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene when asked for comment.
Subsequently, Greene did not respond by press time to requests for comment.