The ASPC Budget Committee will propose an amendment to its bylaws at next week’s ASPC Senate meeting that would permit and regulate ASPC funding for alcohol at events co-sponsored by Pomona fraternities.
According to Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Smith Campus Center Neil Gerard, discussion regarding changes in ASPC’s policy toward funding frat parties has carried on for years, with special attention devoted to the matter last year.
This fall, the Committee decided to create a one-year trial policy permitting Pomona fraternities, which include Sigma Tau, Kappa Delta, and Nu Alpha Phi, to obtain funding from ASPC's alcohol fund under certain conditions.
The trial policy, which has been in effect all year, permits each of the three Pomona fraternities to access up to $600 per year for events that are co-sponsored with a non-fraternity organization on campus. Two of the fraternities have taken advantage of this policy over the course of the year, resulting in parties co-sponsored by Sigma Tau and the Red Cross Club, and by Nu Alphi Phi and the Musician’s Coalition. Kappa Delta has not accessed any of the available funds this year.
The proposed policy would maintain most of the essential elements of the existing trial policy, with some room for adjustment when the policy comes to the table at next week’s Senate meeting.
According to ASPC Vice President for Finance Cosimo Thawley ’11, the intention and wording of the policy will be the same as the one that was in place this year.
“The only thing that might change is the monetary limit for funding each year,” he said. “We also want a just distribution among the three fraternities to make sure that one isn’t using all the funding, and measures will have to be put in place to ensure that outcome.”
Thawley added that the tri-frat parties are an exception to traditional fraternity events in that they tend to appeal to a broader audience, which already qualifies them for funding from ASPC. Funding of these events will be unaffected by the proposed policy, he explained.
According to Assistant Director of the Smith Campus Center Ellie Ash, the ASPC alcohol fund is accumulated from the proceeds of vending machine sales on campus. Technically, Ash said, only organizations open to all students can receive money from this fund. Fraternities, which have exclusive membership, have long been denied alcohol funding for this reason.
According to Gerard, who is retiring this year, this distinction stems from a review of Pomona’s social scene in the early 1990s.
Pomona has had fraternities for over a century, Gerard said. In the 1970s, fraternities were invited to install themselves on campus. Before this, they were housed in cottages by the hills north of Pomona’s campus. According to Gerard, the fraternities were invited to campus because their rowdy public behavior off-campus created a liability for the college.
“Over the next two decades, the fraternities kind of took over the social life of the college,” Gerard said. “It was really not a good environment. It was kind of abusive to people not in the fraternity—women and others who were perceived to be different.”
In response to such allegations, a task force was created in the early 90s that converted private fraternity space, which was at the time located in the Clark basements, into communal property. The task force also founded the Committee for Campus Life and Activities (CCLA) as an alternative source for social entertainment, and it terminated student funding for fraternities. Subsequently, Pomona fraternities dwindled in membership and were replaced by CCLA as the dominant source for large social events on campus.
But in the last few years, there has been discussion in the administration and student government over whether ASPC should change its policy regarding funding for fraternity-sponsored alcohol events. The discussion is fueled by a recognition that while membership of fraternities is still technically exclusive, frat parties are typically open to all students.
Leaders of Pomona’s fraternities also argue that the negative social environment associated with the frats from several decades ago is no longer an issue.
Nu Alpha Phi President Clay Taylor PO ’11 said his co-ed fraternity strives to make its events open and accessible to all Pomona students.
“Nu Alpha Phi values a diverse and open social environment,” Taylor said. “Everything we do is open to everybody across the 5Cs, and we provide an alternative social scene where anyone can relax and enjoy good music.”
Sigma Tau President Jeff Levere PO ’12 said his fraternity has similar goals.
“I think it's really important for people to understand that fraternity parties are open to all students and are primarily funded out of the pockets of the members of the fraternity,” Levere said.
“Considering that we do similar programming to other organizations, usually in the same spaces, and always open to everybody, it seems unfair that we’re funding it out of our own pockets,” he added.