“I’ve got a file that thick I could have brought,” said Tim Allard, holding his index finger and thumb a few inches apart. “I didn’t bring it — fresh beginning,” he said as he wiped his hands together.
Fraternity representatives, administrators and Gorham Police and community members met last Thursday in Gorham for the first time since fraternity behavior came under fire last fall, prompting USM to establish behavioral guidelines for off-campus student organizations.
Unlike the meetings in the fall, this wasn’t called as a reaction to any specific issue. Joe Austin, dean of student life, said it’s important to maintain the relationship between the fraternities with off-campus housing and their neighbors, sustaining good behavior. Tim and Jo Ann Allard were the only neighbors who attended the meeting. The Allards live on Preble Street, where two fraternities are housed. However, Austin stressed it didn’t necessarily mean everyone else is content and said he didn’t want the fraternities to become complacent as a result of the positive meeting.
Austin said behavior issues tend to rise at this time of year, when the weather begins to improve. “I worry this time of year that the wheels are gonna come off,” he said. “We want to try to stay on top of this issue.”
Austin discussed the importance of establishing a pattern of good behavior by reaching benchmarks throughout the year. He said the next order of business is to write up forms the fraternities have to fill out to host off-campus events, like parties. As part of the behavioral guidelines, off-campus student organizations must inform the USM administration, town and university police at least two days before an event. Right now the form they fill out is for on-campus events. Chris O’Connor, assistant dean of student life, said the form needs to be tweaked because not everything is applicable and more people need to be notified for off-campus events.
Allard said it’s important to know about the event in advance. “It’s nice to know the number of people at event before [it happens]. It gives us that heads up,” he said. O’Connor and Austin both highlighted the need to teach the behavioral guidelines to new fraternity members in order to maintain a tradition.
“We’re trying to preach to them [that] they have to step up and keep doing the rules,” said Ryan Dyer from Phi Kappa Sigma.
John Turner, Delta Chi president, said there’s been “huge improvement” since the guidelines were established.
Allard has also seen an improvement in behavior. “Preble Street and the fraternities aren’t known as a party place outside of town,” he said. “Kids are starting to get the idea that they can’t run wild anymore.”
Austin supported an idea to hold leadership retreats for the new leaders of the fraternities each year to instruct them about the guidelines. “You’re stewards of your fraternities. You need to look at what’s going to happen during the future,” Austin said to
the fraternity leaders.