New members of Kappa Alpha Theta performing at Hinkle Fieldhouse for first-year skits in February 2017. Photo by Jimmy Lafakis.
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Fraternities and sororities still have not received official word regarding whether or not the annual first-year skits show will take place this year. The event, also known as “Freshman Skits,” is typically held in late February at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The event featured the new pledge classes of each fraternity and sorority on campus in skits that shared a common theme.
Blue Key is the organization on Butler’s campus that traditionally hosted the event. The organization is described on Butler’s list of active student organizations as, “a scholastic and activities honorary for juniors who are recognized as leaders in scholarship and college activities. It encourages intellectual attainment and promotes the progress of Butler University.”
Serena Panos, sophomore health science major, is the current president of Alpha Phi.
In late January, Panos received an email regarding first-year skits and Blue Key that said the organization was not considered an active organization on campus, and that their active status could not be reinstated, at least not immediately. Additionally, the email stated that first-year skits did not agree with multiple Greek organizations’ new member guidelines as they relate to hazing. Because of these factors, the event is postponed from the original date of Feb. 23 until further notice.
In the same email, Blue Key stated that one of Butler’s Greek organizations reached out to them to say that the event potentially violated its new member guidelines, and upon further research of the rules and regulations of each organization on campus, the university decided that it violated nearly every Greek organization’s rules regarding new member programs. The general problem with the event is that it is focused almost entirely on new members and by singling out them out, the event can be considered hazing.
The email ended by stating that Blue Key hoped their last event on campus could be first-year skits and that they were willing to make changes so that the event met the requirements of Greek organizations.
No details about those changes were proposed by Blue Key in the email, and since then, Panos said she has not received any additional official updates. She said she has only heard rumors around campus.
These rumors have not been verified by The Collegian or commented on by the university.
When contacted for an interview for this story, Jesse Neader, assistant director of Butler’s PuLSE office replied in an email that read: “I am still in communication with the Blue Key National Headquarters regarding this organization. At this time, we are still discussing many details and therefore I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to comment.”
“Word on campus is that it is not coming back,” Panos said, “but I have also heard that SGA is planning on doing something, I’ve heard also that Greek houses are trying to implement [a similar event] as a philanthropy event.”
Ben Nick, sophomore chemistry and biology major, is the current president of Delta Tau Delta. Nick said Blue Key has been sponsoring the event since 1928 and that it feels like the university is out to put a stop to the event.
“The technicalities are frustrating because it has been happening for 90 years and national organizations have never questioned it before,” Nick said. “It feels like it was the university against Greek Life in that instance.”
Panos did not think that Alpha Phi nationals would disapprove of the event.
“I personally feel that if I reached out to our nationals and laid out what first-year skits actually was that they wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Panos said.
Nick said that the event is a great time for new members to get to know one another better and to form close bonds, and has never been about hazing or making people uncomfortable.
“It is frustrating because we can tell them that no hazing takes place but they are never going to believe us,” Nick said. “Every single house requires that their members be sober the night of the event. We don’t require our guys to participate in first-year skits, we had a couple of guys last year that said that they couldn’t because they had other things that they were committed to. And I feel like that is being ignored by the people who are pushing against it.”
Carly Dobert, first-year biology major, is a new member of Alpha Chi Omega. Dobert said she does not see it as a problem as long as new members have a choice as to whether or not they want to participate.
“I was excited because I thought it would be a good bonding experience with my pledge class,” Dobert said. “I think it wouldn’t be an issue if they just made it optional because I think people would still participate because most people want to anyway.”
Lauren Turnbull, sophomore motorsports engineering and math major and a new member of Delta Delta Delta, said that she was looking forward to first-year skits because of its tradition as a great event for Greek houses to make relationships.
“Everyone I have talked to said that they didn’t really know the people in their pledge class but once they did first-year skits they really made strong friendships,” Turnbull said.
Dobert said she was disappointed when she found out that first-year skits had been postponed.
“I think it is dumb, because I was excited for it and then they were like, ‘just kidding,’” Dobert said. “I get that it can be considered hazing, but it really is not.”
Panos also thinks the University was not happy with how first-year skits was put on, which heighted the pressure to cancel or, at this point postpone, the event.
“I believe that the issue of first-year skits was larger than just hazing,” Panos said. “I think Butler didn’t want us to use Hinkle, I think they probably had some concerns that [the event] promoted after-party events, as any university would be.”
Regardless of the reason for the hesitation to continue first-year skits, Panos said that the University is not exactly being transparent with Greek organizations about what is going to happen next.
“I think it is a little frustrating that they haven’t reached out [since the original email] with any further information,” Panos said. “I know that it was an event that a lot of our new members were super super super excited about and I have had a lot of them come up and ask me if [Alpha Phi can host the event] because I really do think it is an awesome event for bonding. I am hoping that they actually put something together, and not just claim that they are trying to, but they don’t really tell us what is happening.”
Panos said that she sees first-year skits as a great opportunity for new members to get to know one another because of her experience with it last year.
“It was something that our older members hyped up in a really positive way to use as really a bonding event and to care less about looking great or being perfect or winning but instead as a time to spend with each other,” Panos said. “We ended up placing, but it wasn’t really about that it was more about having fun with it and because of that it was something so special to us.”
While the future of first-year skits is still up in the air, Nick said that things will certainly not be the same.
“For right now, I don’t know what is going to happen with first-year skits, which is kind of scary,” Nick said. “It is tough because I want to see it happen, and honestly I think all of Greek Life wants to see it happen. But it is frustrating because I don’t think that the university is going to let it, at least in the same way as it has in the past.”