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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letter to the Editor: PERC event meant to educate

Published: January 19, 2007
Section: Opinions

To the editor,

We wish to clarify a few points made in last semesters editorial Greek life: Contradiction. First, it should be noted that the name of the campus organization that threw the Mock Frat Party is P.E.R.C. (Peers Educating about Responsible Choices). PERC was created last fall as a peer education group that runs programs around alcohol and drug awareness. The clubs motto is Just Say Know, indicating the clubs purpose to educate the campus about these substances so students can make informed decisions, differing from the traditional approach of preaching abstinence. PERC has led numerous drug and alcohol dorm raps, primarily in the first year areas. The group has also assisted the Student Union in educating about Purple Rain and helping out the Department of Residence Life at the Registered? program in Ziv Commons to inform upperclassmen about registering a wet suite and throwing a registered party. The organization was recognized by the Student Union at the end of last semester and was recently chartered. The Student Union does not recognize or charter any fraternity or sorority according to Article VIII Section 2 and 3 in the Union Bylaws. Therefore, please let it be known that PERC is not a fraternity. The group has no affiliation with any fraternity or sorority.

Next, we have a serious conflict with the line in the article, a student-funded organization held a party in the guise of a pseudo-fraternity event. The wording of the sentence implies that the party was a disguised fraternity event. This simply was not true. Rather, it was held on campus in a highly visible location, Polaris Lounge in North Quad, on a Wednesday night at 9:00pm and was open to the whole Brandeis community. PERC was perfectly clear with their intentions for the event. The flier for the party clearly labeled it as an educational program. It was aimed at teaching students about how to safely party around alcohol and guiding students to make more responsible decisions if they choose to go to an off campus party, including those held by fraternities or sororities. Truthfully, it was a program in response to the uncharacteristically high number of alcohol-related hospital transportations that occurred in North Quad during this semester. The party was targeted for first year students, in particular North Quad residents. There was about 200 students who attended the two-hour event, many being North Quad residents.

The event featured music played by WBRS and various games normally associated with drinking, but used non-alcoholic alternatives and provided educational information to those participating. There was also a non-alcoholic bar where students could order mocktails, pizza (paid for by the North Quad Council), and representatives in attendance from SSIS and BEMCo to provide further information to those at the event. The event emphasized some alternatives to drinking and acted as a studying break for many students before the start of the finals period. The feedback from all who attended was positive. It is a shame the administration was caught up with the word frat used in advertising for the event. It was labeled a mock frat party to serve as an advertising gimmicknothing more. This miscommunication drew a larger audience and the wrong wording in the advertisement was rectified. Unfortunately, the administration, that was so quick to comment, did not make an effort attend the event. This is regrettable because this is the same administration that has threatened to take away or has completely done away with social events that serve alcohol or have had alcohol-related problems such as The Less You Wear The Less You Pay dance and ModFest. If the administration hopes to make students more responsible in situations with alcohol, then it is questionable why they would raise concerns over an event that is supposed to help students make more responsible choices. PERC has tried to preserve Brandeis students social lives. It has been the club's initiative to educate the student body about safer alcohol use on our campus, which it believes coincides with the interests of the administration.

Furthermore, it is misleading that PERC be included in an editorial piece advocating for the recognition of off campus fraternities or sororities. The group does not have any comment on the Universitys decision not to recognize such organizations. Inclusion in this article has only detracted from PERCs goal on campus. The group has spent much time this semester trying to educate the student body about how to drink responsibly and trying to advise students on the risks of alcohol, but the only acknowledgment PERC has received is its decision to use a controversial advertising decision. This is distressing because what the campus newspapers print directs how the student body formulates opinions and obtains information on school-wide issues. This editorial has masked all the good intentions of PERC and the program it ran. If PERC is to be more successful in its attempt to create a safer drinking culture on the Brandeis campus, then it is necessary for the campus media to help spread the correct message on the club's activities, rather than altering them to fit the agenda of the journalist.

Thank you,
Andrew Eilbert 08
President of Peers Educating about Responsible Choices