Panel strives to provide a safe Dillo Day

Tina Peng

As Dillo Day approaches, an advisory panel composed of Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association and campus officials is attempting to ensure student safety through providing free food and increasing education efforts.

An IFC-sponsored ambulance will circle campus throughout the day, said Matt Robbins, IFC risk management chairman. Officers from IFC and Panhel risk management teams will make rounds, a fraternity grill-off will offer food to prevent alcohol poisoning and an ad campaign currently under way will educate students about Dillo Day safety.

“We were just trying to figure out not how to eliminate the fun of Dillo Day but how to make it safer,” said Robbins, a Weinberg junior.

Robbins said the panel, which was formed by Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Desler in response to the 107 citations and numerous hospital trips during Dillo Day last year, attempted to increase safety for all Northwestern students.

Kyle Pendleton, associate director of fraternity and sorority life, said his office focused on educating individual fraternity and sorority members about safety and informing them about the ramifications of an individual’s actions on his or her chapter. Last year, Pendleton said, 11 of 18 IFC fraternities underwent judicial hearings in relation to Dillo Day.

“The fraternity presidents and the IFC officers, more so than anybody else, know how their membership should be behaving and what the expectations are as far as the policies,” Pendleton said. “But it’s really difficult for one fraternity president to control all 90 fraternity members.”

William Banis, vice president for student affairs, said the new policies were a step in the right direction but could not ensure safety.

“It’s individual responsibility and individual behavior,” he said.

Banis added that Greek organizations’ cooperation with the advisory panel was encouraging.

But Robbins said many incidents of alcohol violations and safety concerns don’t even involve fraternity or sorority houses.

“It happens a lot in Bobb and Sargent and Allison and all those dorms that are freshman-heavy,” he said. “They sit behind their doors with a bottle of vodka, they don’t know their limits and they drink too much.”

Robbins said he also informed IFC presidents that risk management officials no longer will “turn the other cheek” on Dillo Day violations.

“We tend to let things go a little more on Dillo Day, and this year we’re going to try not to have that double standard,” Robbins said.

The grill-off, sponsored by IFC and held in the courts behind Bobb Hall, will encourage students to drink more responsibly, Robbins said.

“At least in the middle of the day, between morning drinking and evening drinking, they can come out of their dorms and have a bite to eat,” he said.

The panel also discussed ways to draw more students out of their rooms and to the Lakefill, where free concerts run throughout the day. In the future, Robbins said IFC will work with Mayfest, the group that brings the bands to campus for Dillo Day, to provide more funding for performers.

“The Lakefill is easily the safest place to be on Dillo Day,” Robbins said. “There’s a whole bunch of officers and people making sure that people are safe. The main problem is, how do we draw people to the Lakefill? Obviously the correct answer is to have a great band.”

Mark Goldman, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s alumni corporation president, said that at a meeting on April 24 Pendleton asked Greek housing corporations to “have a presence in their housing facilities during Dillo Day.” Goldman said he thought the university encouraged but did not require this measure.

“The university is looking at this as a cooperative activity between fraternities and sororities and the university, not as a mandate from the Office of Student Affairs,” he said.

The new safety measures are less aimed at decreasing arrests than at increasing safety, said Phil Stuart, IFC vice president for public relations and a Medill junior.

“Regardless of how many arrests were made last year, the primary concern is that we aren’t having many students on this campus getting violently sick and endangering their health on Dillo Day,” he said.