greek life

Stepping Up

APA Joins BSC Greek Life

The Tau Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha joins the Birmingham-Southern Greek community this semester, as IFC voted to allow them to join our school’s council. Chartered April 12, 2000 at Samford, the chapter opened up to the city in 2004, and it welcomed its first BSC student in 2005. Now, as an official member of Birmingham-Southern’s Interfraternity Council, they are opening up their annual Unity Step Show to chapters from the hilltop.

John Banks, the chapter president, said "Our step show is for everybody. People assume it’s just for the sororities to do, but we love when the fraternities get involved."

The Unity Step Show, now on its 5th year, is the chapter’s philanthropic event, which helps raise money for the March of Dimes. In past years, the show has raised over $500, last year raising $750. The event attracts organizations from both campuses. This year, 5 organizations from Samford and 3 from Birmingham-Southern have signed up to perform.

"I hear a lot of people say they’re afraid to dance or can’t dance," Banks said. "[But] it’s kind of a different world. It really is a lot of fun. Historically, it’s making sure we, as Alphas, do what we’re supposed to do and be servants to all."

Rooted in Greek singing competitions from the 70s and traditional African dances like the Gumboot dance, step shows have transformed into complex and entertaining showcases of Greek organizations’ dancing skills.

The step show, which will take place April 20th at Seibert Gym on Samford’s campus, is not the only thing Alpha Phi Alpha has planned. “We’ve already started to look at an Alpha week in the fall,” Banks said. “A week of different events; social, philanthropy, and service.”

Alpha week typically includes events like Stroll Like an Alpha, a step show featuring moves specific to different Divine 9 fraternities, and events designed to bring awareness to the March of Dimes. The chapter is looking to expand its role on campus by providing a new opportunity for students to go Greek as it expands into a more permanent place here on the Hilltop.

The Tau Iota chapter welcomes all BSC students to come see the event at Samford’s Seibert Gym on April 20th at 7 pm and encourages anyone interested in the fraternity to contact John Banks, Chapter President, at jlbanks@bsc.edu.

All photos via John Banks

Row Woes

The Pros and Cons of Common Source

Earlier this semester, the school’s administration introduced measures to punish fraternities for serving common source alcohol. Seeing as BSC is a wet campus, students are unsure of how these rules may affect the fraternity functions that have traditionally served alcohol for the past several years.

Kyle Lo Porto, Assistant Director of Student Activities, explains that "common source is when an organization provides alcohol to a guest at their event.” He went on to say that common source tends to appear often at open fraternity parties, where organizations feel they need some way to draw guests to their events.

While the school is able to give this clear-cut definition of common source, some students are confused by the change of rules. Since the administration has changed its stance on the subject, some students are hesitant to believe that the rules are as straightforward as they appear to be.

 "Common source has been redefined several times by our school, and the student handbook shows their lack of clarity, in a sense," an anonymous fraternity member says. "Birmingham-Southern College has started incorporating any distribution of alcohol, at all, even when the organization is not implicitly purchasing or distributing the alcohol. When one container of alcohol is handed to another person, that is affiliated with the organization, [and] that is [now defined as] common source."

Historically, the administration has always been opposed to common source alcohol, but punishments were varied due to a lack of precedent in the handbook. Greek conduct boards (made up of all 6 fraternity presidents, plus the Interfraternity Council [IFC] VP of Judiciary, IFC President, and Kyle Lo Porto) would hold hearings and hand out punishments as they saw fit. The new rule incorporates punishments for fraternities that serve common source, which includes losing three events and being put on probation for the remainder of the term and the next term for the first offense. If there is a probation violation, then there is a risk of the house being shutdown. It seems that one of the biggest changes for the fraternities is working with sororities to have them refuse common source and report it when they see it, a rule the presidents all agreed to adopt.

"It is a very tough situation since it is such a long history for certain events," Lo Porto says. "Everybody pledged to stop expecting it from sorority side of things and [for fraternities] to stop providing it."

From a risk management standpoint, there is a concern that banning common source alcohol at parties, like mixed drinks and beers, prevents organizations from controlling how much alcohol is being consumed at parties and makes it harder to cut people off. In addition, this ban may encourage activities like pre-gaming and bringing hard liquor into events. Furthermore, there is concern that the ban on common source simply will not stick and that it will get even further out of hand.

"The biggest problem is that there is a row mentality, where all six fraternities feed off each other in order to sustain the social image at BSC," the anonymous fraternity member says. "So if one frat decides to follow a certain policy, unless all the fraternities are also following, it will very likely hurt their social scene and not be a benefit to the greater Greek community."

Feature photo by jamesomalley via Flickr.