Mistaken Means

Campus Issues: While clashes may be inevitable, local residents should seek dialogue, not legal action, in dealing with fraternities.

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From media representations to generally-held stereotypes, drinking and debauchery have long been characterized as integral components of a typical American college experience. Within these portrayals, Greek organizations-fraternities, in particular-have become inextricably linked to partying and its after effects.

In a lawsuit that will likely be filed by several Southside residents, 34 campus fraternities and the Interfraternity Council (IFC), are accused of alcohol abuse, littering and noise violations-perpetuating the bad rap they've gotten for years. To remedy these problems, residents want to implement a temporary ban on alcohol and require that houses to have a live-in adult supervisor.

It's certainly likely that residents were disturbed by partying and drunk collegiates on more than one occasion. And it's possible that these students were members of UC Berkeley fraternities. If the suit's accusations are true, anger and frustration are logical reactions.

But let's be real here: the majority of UC Berkeley students drink and many student groups, outside of Frat Row, hold parties that serve alcohol. Drinking and loud parties, at least for now, are regular occurrences at most universities-the Greek community did not invent them. Realistically, a lawsuit is not going to end these unavoidable problems.

If they file the suit, residents will be overreacting to the situation and unfairly targeting fraternities. While obviously well within their rights, residents should instead seek direct dialogue with the fraternities and the IFC on their issues with them. In the future, we expect the campus to be an active partner in the process of improving these relations.

As it is, the lawsuit will probably be an ineffectual waste of time, money and energy. In fact, it might even be harmful to the cause of residents, potentially motivating ill will among fraternity members and further rupturing tenuous town-gown relations.

At the same time, while residents may mistakenly chose an extreme tactic to make their point, that doesn't mean fraternities are totally innocent.

Although they may be free of some blame, the Greek community shares responsibility for the escalation of the situation. They ought to use the suit as a wake-up call to clean up their act and prove these residents wrong.

We're not expecting them to abandon parties and drinking. But it couldn't hurt to take their neighbors into consideration the next time the weekend rolls around.

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