The fraternity and sorority system, both at IU and across the nation, is undergoing a facelift.
In light of the increased scandals regarding hazing, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual assault, Greek organizations and universities alike are responding by implementing policies designed to create more safe environments and to help rid Greek life of the “Animal House” stereotype.
But one controversial policy proposed by IU’s Student Life and Learning goes beyond ensuring a safe atmosphere — it demands that in order to be recognized by the University, fraternities and sororities must agree to allow IU police officers the “right to enter and inspect any and all rooms” within their houses at any time.
Not only is this draconian policy more than intrusive, it encroaches upon our rights laid out in the Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment provides one of the most fundamental rights that we have in America — the right to have our private lives free from unreasonable governmental searches and seizures. Specifically, it requires the government to first obtain a warrant in order to conduct a search on a person’s house. It’s purposefully designed to keep sacred our privacies of life.
The policy proposed by the University clearly flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment; by mandating that fraternities and sororities allow police to enter and inspect any room at any time, the University presents a disturbing ultimatum: either forfeit your basic freedoms and permit the police to enter your living-quarters at any time for any reason — or none at all — or join a different student organization and move out of your house.
Do we really want our public university to strong-arm its students into letting police enter the rooms of their Greek houses — many of which are on private property — at any time? Of course not. And if the University were to get away with doing this to students in fraternities and sororities, what’s to stop it from ultimately coercing all of its students to relinquish their freedoms?
Fraternity men and sorority women at IU account for nearly 20 percent of the student body. Outside of their excellence in the classroom, they are leaders in the community and are responsible for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for philanthropic causes every year. And while there is certainly the need to ensure that these young men and women live in safe environments, there is no evidence this policy would even be effective at accomplishing that goal.
Considering police can already enter a house, whether that house has Greek letters on it or not, by first obtaining a warrant — or by a showing of exigent circumstances — it is thus unnecessary for the University to attempt to contravene this legal framework by implementing a policy giving them absolute authority to enter private residences. To stay silent while the University implements this policy would be antithetical to our notion of freedom and would be one more step in the direction of a police state.
IU Maurer School of Law student