Fact or Fiction?

by Henry Thornton

Junior Editor

You may have heard the rumors going around, like I did, that Dean Spurlock had put in place new regulations on Greek parties. The rumor, at least the most commonly shared rumor, was that Dean Spurlock had sent an e-mail to Greek leaders outlining new regulations. These regulations included the banning of punch from parties, an 11:00 curfew, and the abolishment of weekday “That’s not true,” Dean Spurlock told me in her office. She stated in an e-mail that, “I think the rumor was generated from a Behold How Good/ Inside the Gates email sent by Dean Hartman on January 13th.” All of us in the Sewanee community with an e-mail address gets the Behold How Good/Inside the Gates e-mails. It’s the one with the chart of disciplinary offenses from the previous months, semesters, and years.

In this e-mail a few new additions to the code of conduct were outlined.

  1. Students who drug others will face very serious consequences, very likely separation from the University.
  2. Those complicit in the distribution of drugged beverages or food will also face serious sanctions.
  3. Students found responsible for any drug offense may be required to submit to drug testing (including hair testing) at their own expense, as a condition for continued enrollment at the University.
  4. Students who host or facilitate unregistered, unapproved parties will be held responsible through the conduct process. (This rule was in place previously but only applied to Greek Organizations)I don’t think the administration opposing students drugging other students is a particularly controversial standpoint; I was surprised that it wasn’t already listed. “It had only been implicit before,” said Dean Spurlock. “Naming it was a way to bring up the conversation about it.” A portion of the rumor that caused a huge amount of outcry was the eleven o’clock curfew that was going to be enforced at parties. According to Spurlock, “The only strict thing with that is registered parties on Thursday nights, they have to wrap up by 11 because there are classes the next day.” She added that “Having no parties Sunday—Wednesday has been a policy of the institution for a long time.”

When I asked her to define exactly what the university considered a party, Dean Spurlock admitted that “The university has no exact definition on what a party is. “According to her, the institution uses the “reasonable person standard.” Basically, if the university thinks a reasonable person could call a gathering a party, it’s a party. I questioned her further about what that meant and she said that “university is not trying to prohibit social gatherings and connections.” She said, “We can all agree there is a difference in a few people watching a basketball game and a party.”

Another facet of the rumor was that punch had been banned. Punch, or “common-source” drinking, as the University calls it, has been banned for a long time. “I know it was banned before I got here,” said Dean Spurlock. The ban stemmed from the dangers of consuming high amounts of hard liquor, “but we have had an increase in anecdotes of people consuming drugged drinks,” she said.

The new phrasing for the drug-testing rule was another attempt to bring up the discussion around drugs on campus. Drug testing had previously been on a case-by-case basis and will now be more common. According to Dean Hartman, “marijuana cases are up” and the administration “has suspended more students than usual for first time, serious drug violations.”

“The university really responds to what behavior it sees,” said Dean Spurlock. “We want these rules to create a dialogue.” Regardless of what you think about the rules, they did get people talking.

If you have a mystery or question you would like answered, email Henry Thornton at thornhs0@sewanee.edu.