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University bans fraternity and sorority parties

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Greek organizations at Rutgers are banned from hosting parties for the rest of the spring semester, said Erin Kearns, president of Rutgers Panhellenic Association.

The decision was announced last Wednesday during a meeting with University officials in New Brunswick, where the negative publicity surrounding greek life was discussed, NJ Advance Media reported. The presidents of all 86 fraternities and sororities attended the meeting, which took place at 9 p.m. in the Rutgers Student Center and discussed concerns with the "social probation."

Greek organizations will still be allowed to hold formals and events arranged at off-campus facilities where third-party vendors serve alcohol. Dance Marathon, scheduled for April 11 to 12, will continue as planned. 

"Our advisors and administrators put stricter regulations on Rutgers' greek social calendar for the (remainder) of the semester," Kearns said. "Their decision process was (intended) to keep our members safe."

Currently, there is a negative aura surrounding the word "greek" nationwide, Kearns said, following a string of negative anecdotal situations.

"The decision our advisors made is not a punishment for our community," Kearns said. "It's a yellow light to allow us to reflect on how and what we can do to be a better greek community."

Emily Gibbs, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and a member of service sorority Omega Phi Alpha, spoke in general agreement of the move.

"I feel we need a moment to reflect and have a silence to really understand what we've been doing wrong," she said. "Rutgers has such a great reputation academically and it needs to have the same reputation off-campus."

Although the ban will only last about three weeks, she said her friends, some whom are seniors and in social greek organizations, viewed the ban as buzzkill while they wind down their college careers. 

Still, Gibbs remained adamant in her views about how the ban will recollect the Greek community and improve the University's image, particularly in the wake of a slew of greek life incidents that led to investigations, suspensions and removals of various organizations. 

"Rutgers shouldn't have bad publicity, especially because we're in the Big Ten now," she said. "We should have students wanting to come to Rutgers, and I feel like all this bad controversy is causing students to maybe second-guess coming to Rutgers."

Although she largely supported OFSA's ban, she expressed some doubt about the fairness of the move.

Omega Phi Alpha is not a social greek life organization, and they do not host parties, she said. Despite this, the ban would hold her sorority to the same standard that a social fraternity or sorority would be expected to adhere to. 

"Punishing every sorority and fraternity maybe isn't fair, because there's a select few that do it," she said. "Not a lot go crazy."

With the ban, any fraternity or sorority that hosts a party will face consequences. 

"The chapter would be reprimanded by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and would be held accountable for their actions as a chapter," Kearns said. "All organizations are informed of the penalizations that will occur if the rules are not followed."

Kearns said the greek community will take time to improve greek life culture at Rutgers through an array of positive programming about alcohol safety, the effects of mental illness stigma and issues that affect college students.

OFSA is taking this step out of caution and concern, E.J. Miranda, spokesperson for Rutgers University, told NJ Advance Media.

"(OFSA) will use this time to continue and reinforce its dialogue with the leadership of the university's 86 recognized fraternities and sororities about greek life at Rutgers and their responsibilities to the campus community at large," Miranda said.

Avalon Zoppo is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business. She is an Associate News Editor at The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @avalonzoppo for more stories.

Katie Park is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is the News Editor at The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kasopar for more stories.

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