Due to the prevalence of the H1N1 virus on campus, the Interfraternity Council passed a motion yesterday to partially extend last week’s moratorium on social events for an indefinite period of time.
This motion, which passed by a vote of 28 to eight, does not ban all IFC sponsored social events, but places a moratorium on Non-Catered Invites — parties with an open invitation to all students. The moratorium will be indefinite unless a member proposes a motion to revote.
Additionally, all IFC registered events are now mandated to provide hand sanitizer at the serving station, food in the form of individually packaged snacks and water in the form of water bottles. They are also required to display an IFC poster that highlights essential tips for preventing the contraction of the H1N1 virus at social events. Drinking games are also banned.
IFC president Eddie Rooker ’10 explained that the council’s priority is to provide a healthy environment for students to be safe. He said that this week’s moratorium will help slow the spread of H1N1. He also said that the moratorium on all Non-Catered Invites is the beginning of a gradual return to normalcy.
According to Allen Miller ’11, vice-president of the IFC, ensuring that events do not become crowded is an effective way to protect students from the spread of H1N1.
“Gannett has told us that larger parties that involve drinking games are conducive to passing germs,” Miller said. “Based on our talks with chapter presidents, Gannett, the community and the administration, especially [Dean of Students Kent] Hubbell, we were advised to continue a moratorium to keep Gannett from becoming taxed. This is a safe response to the swine flu. Yet, at the end of the day it was the council’s decision to make.”
Prior to the vote, Nick Nixon ’11, a member of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, reminded the council of their decisions’ far reaching effects. The fraternity recently lost a member due to H1N1 complications.
“The issues that we speak about here in our IFC meetings affect the lives of many students,” Nixon said.
Brody Ehlrich ’10, a member on the council, admits that while he was upset about the ultimate decision, he nevertheless voted in favor of the moratorium.
“It’s hard to think about partying when someone has died. Obviously I want to party, but at least until the swine flu has calmed down, we have to take action,” Ehlrich said.
Chris Mejia ’11, another member of the council, agrees fully with the council’s decision to extend the moratorium.
“I agree 100 percent,” Mejia said. “I am surprised that we didn’t extend the ban fully in light of the situation. [Large parties] can get out of hand very quickly. These smaller events are much more manageable.”
Other members did not agree that the moratorium would continue to have a positive effect on the number of students infected. They believed that last week’s ban was successful in spreading awareness of the dangers of swine flu, but now students should be permitted to do what they want.
Andrew Brokman ’11, an IFC member, expressed his opposition to the moratorium.
“We did not see a great enough decrease in the infection rate this past week to say that last week’s moratorium was effective. Additionally, this will cause more students to go to Collegetown where there are more people in closer quarters,” Brokman said.
Allen stated that although “we can’t control what other people do, we can control what goes on in our houses.”
Some council members worried that this moratorium would significantly hurt fraternities’ rushing events this semester, but this concern was immediately shot down and deemed irrelevant in the face of H1N1’s serious health risks.
One member, however, noted his suspicion that the topic of preventative measures did not come up until after a council member had their largest “open party” of the year. This party, attended by hordes of freshmen, took place despite the already hundreds of swine flu infections on campus.
Many members feel that the topic is extremely political and that there is a lot of downward pressure from the University to enact change.
Rooker does not worry that the permission of smaller events will lessen the cautiousness of Cornell students.
“I think that people get the message and the dangers of the H1N1 virus. [Now we are simply trying to increase] the safety and effectiveness of what we are doing,” Rooker said.