Spring rush raises a host of questions, and not just the ones you need to answer at meet-and-greets to get in — where are you from, what’s your major and so on. There are also questions about sexual assault and alcohol abuse, especially pertinent in light of the national conversation about party culture and risky behavior.
Certainly aspects of Greek life at Yale are peculiar to Yale, and we won’t weigh here the sweeping changes instituted at other colleges and universities, including mandates at Wesleyan and Trinity that Greek organizations go co-ed.
It is worth investigating and debating these changes. But we instead wish to propose a much simpler measure — certainly not mutually exclusive with broader reforms — that still bears on the important question of where and how students consume mind-altering substances.
Yale should revitalize “party suites” in the residential colleges.
These suites, which exist in three-quarters of the residential colleges, are large and offer ideal social spaces. To varying degrees, members of these suites take it upon themselves to host parties. In return for this tacit responsibility, several colleges provide party suites with funds and encourage them to open up their space to the whole college.
The Saybrook “12-pack” and the Branford “God Quad” are two notable examples. The octet in Timothy Dwight regularly throws widely accessible parties yet receives no funding from the college. In the other nine colleges, these suites either don’t exist or its members have made different decisions from year to year about whether to host large social events. Suite parties surely occur in all 12 colleges, but they are often small, exclusive pregames.
This is a shame. The party suites are assets to their colleges. They provide an inclusive space where partygoers know or, at least, recognize one another. The same person you see in the 12-pack on Saturday night you might then find next to you in the Saybrary Sunday morning. This fosters accountability and contributes to multidimensional friendships.
Particularly for freshmen, unfamiliar with Yale’s social landscape, it is a welcoming destination. It’s easy to find out who your hosts are. It’s easy to come and go as you please. Many may ultimately venture to fraternity basements or off-campus apartments, but party suites ensure there’s an option for everyone.
What’s more, the location of party suites and their affiliation with a given college mean they can be more easily regulated. After all, the master and dean live right there.
In agreeing to subsidize party suites, the residential colleges could set regulations that hold members of the suite accountable. No punch. Mandatory training by the Communication and Consent Educators. Unlike fraternities, which may elect to follow similar rules, enforcement and accountability are more practical for a dozen suitemates in one college than dozens of brothers dispersed across Yale College.
Students who elect to live in these suites should take it upon themselves to throw parties. Colleges should spend a few hundred dollars each semester supporting them.
We’re not asking for new buildings or more faculty. Not even a multi-million dollar reform to financial aid. Unlike some other requests we’ve made, subsidizing the nine party suites that exist is dirt cheap. It’s not a panacea for more structural issues. But it makes sense.