SMU Rule Caps Parties at 400 Students, Leaves Greek System "Totally in Awe"

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SMU will be having none of this.
SMU is not known as a party school, at least according to the party-school power rankers. But this is still college, where people have a tendency to gather in large groups and drink, and the school does have a robust Greek scene, so there are parties at SMU, and they can get pretty big.

But only to a point. The Daily Campus reported this week (the page is down but Google cache is not) that the SMU administration has put in place what's been dubbed The 400 Rule, capping parties, both on- and off-campus, at 400.

See also: SMU Alum Has Idea for Boosting Student Attendence at Games: No More Tailgating!

That might seem like plenty of people for a party. But by SMU frat standards, it's not.

"At first when we got told at the (Greek mandatory organizational) meeting, it was almost bedlam," says Billy Embody, student spokesman for the SMU Interfraternity Council. "People were still sitting down but people were just laughing and totally in awe at the rule."

SMU already had a party-size rule that allowed three guests for every member of the sponsoring organization, according the The Daily Campus. Groups had to give the university a guest list in advance to confirm the rule was followed, though Embody said the parties often swelled beyond that size with no consequences.

Kristal Statler, the university's director of fraternity and sorority life, told the paper the new rule was put in place to allow organizations with, say, a dozen members, to have larger events while still ensuring "that events are done in a safe manner," presumably one that limits the school's exposure to lawsuits. (Neither Statler nor a SMU spokesperson returned our calls.)

But that went over like an empty keg. No one had a problem with letting smaller groups have bigger parties, but the cap, initially set at 300, seemed arbitrary, not to mention low. It was eventually raised to 400, but still. There are well-established events that attract significantly more than 400 people. Students worried that the school was trying to shut down tradition.

In the end, Embody said, the school tweaked the rule to accommodate formals and certain special events, which has eased concerns. But not completely.

"I see what they're doing, and I completely agree with giving the small organizations room to grow their events, because I think that's important," Embody says. "I don't know really why there has to be a cap on the parties."

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24 comments
LoneStarReb
LoneStarReb

Gerald Turner wants SMU to a sterile version of Ole Miss.  Some of you might know before coming to SMU Gerald Turner was the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi (which happens to be my alma mater).  He instituted The Boulevard in early 2000's, in effort to recreate the atmosphere and excitement of "The Grove" at Ole Miss (which can attract 90,000+ people), without those pesky side effects that come along with massive SEC tailgates: i.e. underage drinking, unruly fraternity boys, trash on the ground, people not actually going inside the stadium.  If he continues down this path he will find that he is grinding 2 different gears together, and he is going to have to take some bad with good if he wants to see SMU football continue to rise in popularity. 

Daniel
Daniel

LSD will set you free. I bet they didn't teach you THAT at the Sperry Top Sider School of Law, or whatever fuck it's called. 

drewmagary
drewmagary

@TheSamMorton How am I only supposed to CRUSH just 400 vaginas, bro?!

Admonkey
Admonkey

Sorry, SMU, but I'm pretty sure this rule, as it pertains to off-campus events, would be found in violation of the 1st Amendment right to assemble and freely associate. But I'm sure the nice guys at the Dedman School of Law have already told you that.

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

 @Admonkey The law is the right to "peaceably" assemble. More than 400 drunk students may not meet that criterion.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Admonkey Don't forget that time, place and manner are acceptable restrictions on free speech.

 

Besides, SMU is a private school so 1st Amendment restrictions do not apply.

MattL11
MattL11

If they did, I'd become VERY concerned with the quality of legal education being offered at the Southern Methodist University. 

Admonkey
Admonkey

 @ThatGuy And it isn't up to SMU to determine what constitutes peaceful assembly on off-campus, private-property locations.

Admonkey
Admonkey

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Other than in trying to enforce a dubious code of conduct, the ability of SMU to police their students' behaviors as a private institution ends at their property line. What the students do on their own, private property is up to them.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Admonkey As students they must abide by the rules, which they are deemed to accept by virtue of their attendance. So who will be counting? I have to believe there are some fire code violations occurring.

Admonkey
Admonkey

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @ThatGuy Also, that's all theoretical-- SMU can try to enforce anything they want, and if they do it will work its way through the courts if whomever is punished decides to pursue it. But then there's also the practical. Can you imagine SMU stomping their jackboot down on an off-campus organization like, say, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and taking away their student organization status? Yeah? What if I told you Carl Sewell was a member of S.A.E. during his SMU days. Can you imagine it, then, given his juice with the University and all that entails in terms of donations and the like? Given the list of heavy-hitting donors and their cross-pollination within SMU's Greek system, this policy is a non-starter.

Admonkey
Admonkey

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @ThatGuy Well, they can certainly try. But how will they enforce personal conduct in regards to a 400-person party limit? By attending a party with 401 guests? Who is going to monitor this? And if it's a student organization hosting-- say, a member of the Interfraternity Council-- it becomes problematic to enforce a code of conduct that doesn't violate a criminal statute (say, hazing or providing minors with alcohol). When I was in school, the local D.A. demanded that fraternities turn over membership rosters so they could conduct a cross-reference of (future) criminal behavior against campus associations. This was fought on 1A grounds and he backed off.

Admonkey
Admonkey

 @RTGolden1  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Until someone challenges that "right" and wins, I suppose. Here's my guess: SMU puts out the "guideline," life goes on as it always has for students and their organizations, nothing more ever comes of it, as the people who depend on the SMU board for their jobs won't touch the violators with a ten-foot employment contract (and, if they did, they'd get dragged through the courts by a student's family who, 1) either has deep pockets for the best attorneys or, 2) are the best attorneys, themselves.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @Admonkey  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul On the other hand, if the students chose to ignore SMU's 'guideline' the University would be fully within its rights to revoke fraternity/sorority charters or to ban their activities on-campus.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Admonkey  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @primi_timpano They have every right to sanction and regulate "Greek" events.  Anything they do in any capacity associated with the university exposes them to liability.  That means they must restrict.  The restriction seems pretty modest, and hard to exceed.

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