According to the report, a freshman “who violates the policy by joining, pledging or rushing should expect to be suspended.” An upperclassman “violating the policy by soliciting the participation of freshmen in Greek organizations” should also expect suspension. But leniency might be granted to students who have “been particularly forthcoming during an inquiry or an investigation.” The Committee justified this penalty by citing the presence of some “institutional value.” The Editorial Board remains dubious of the premise that Greek life threatens an institutional value. Even if we are to accept that premise, suspension remains an unfairly harsh punishment. The marginal harm imposed by a freshman joining a fraternity or an upperclassman soliciting such participation is far outweighed by the very real consequences associated with suspension.
Deterrence figured prominently into the decision to issue suspensions for violations of this policy. The Editorial Board remains confident that academic probation and other lesser punishments could serve as effective deterrents. Students understand the gravity of such punishments as academic probation, and we believe that their actions will reflect this understanding.
The recommendations of the Committee are also characterized by an overtly hypocritical attitude toward the Princeton social scene. The report explains, “The intention of the policy is to allow freshmen a full year of exposure to the social and residential aspects of University life without the distraction of fraternity or sorority activity.” Is Greek life not a part of the social “aspects of University life?” By punishing freshmen for attendance at any Greek event, even one not affiliated with the rush or pledge process, this policy erects a wall that will inhibit rather than facilitate new Princetonians’ understanding of our social scene.
Finally, we doubt that certain provisions of the policy can ever be enforced consistently or fairly. The recommended policy would prohibit freshmen from participating in any event “sponsored” by a fraternity or sorority. The committee suggested that evidence of sponsorship would include invitations sent on behalf of a Greek organization, the use of Greek funds to support an event or “other explicit identifications of fraternity or sorority sponsorship.” Identifying the precise source of funding for a particular event will likely be extraordinarily difficult, and the troubles associated with enforcement do no stop there. Would there be a violation of policy if a Greek member invited a freshman to an event that is not funded by Greek money but the people in attendance at this event are predominately Greek? Ultimately, no matter what level of detail the official policy eventually contains, the inherent fluidity of Princeton’s social scene will prevent the University from uniformly enforcing this ban.
Curbing hazing and ensuring that freshmen explore a wide variety of social offerings are both legitimate goals for the University. But, in the pursuit of these goals, the Freshmen Rush Policy Implementation Committee crafted recommendations that are not only antithetical to the Committee’s purported commitment to social exploration during freshman year but also unreasonably harsh and difficult to consistently enforce. The Editorial Board accordingly urges Nassau Hall to seriously reconsider the Committee’s recommendations before formulating and issuing an official policy.