Twitter is taking criticism this week after employees at the San Francisco office hosted a fraternity house-themed party reportedly organized by the company’s revenue team.
Some critics condemned the event as tone-deaf in light of Silicon Valley’s male-dominated culture that fails to adequately promote women to leadership positions. This lack of diversity has been well-documented in recent months, underscored by high-profile lawsuits from former employees alleging gender discrimination.
In hosting this event Twitter employees revealed another area of ignorance: they have little idea of what a fraternity party actually looks like. Far from the unregulated, anything-goes caricature many have about fraternity parties, these social functions are beholden to pages of detailed but necessary requirements to ensure the safety of all guests and members.
If Twitter wants to host a true fraternity-themed party, here is what it would actually look like.
BYOB. No alcoholic beverages are purchased through the chapter treasury nor is the purchase of same for members or guests undertaken or coordinated by any member or candidate in the name of or on behalf of the chapter.
No tap system or bulk alcohol purchases. No tap system and/or a keg is present in the chapter house, on chapter property, or at a chapter function (unless the tap system and/or keg is part of a cash bar operated by a licensed and insured third party vendor).
Sober monitors. Chapters are required to have designated sober monitors to ensure the safety of members and guests.
Attendees must be of legal drinking age to consume alcohol. Valid identification of those claiming to be entitled legally to consume alcohol at chapter functions (where legal consumption is permitted) is checked for the correct age.
No drinking games. No chapter member permits, tolerates, encourages or participates in drinking games in the chapter house, on chapter property, or at any chapter function. Drinking games like Twitter’s beer pong table encourage the type of reckless over-consumption of alcohol that leads to accidents and the ensuing negative media coverage.
Scholarship comes first. A chapter that falls beneath its school’s All-Men’s undergraduate, All-IFC or a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale), whichever is lowest, shall be placed on academic warning for the next academic term in order to allow for the chapter to raise its GPA to be at or above the applicable GPA. (If Twitter’s staff had been a fraternity chapter they would have been barred from hosting social functions due to under-performing stock values.)
It might be tempting to dismiss all this as burdensome red tape implemented by a top-down bureaucracy. However, those familiar with the typical national fraternity governance model will know this is far from the truth.
Each biennium representatives from every collegiate chapter gather for a legislative conclave known to us as Grand Chapter. During this legislative conference, members propose, discuss, and vote upon changes to our national bylaws, including the Risk Reduction Policy and Guidelines.
The votes for these decisions are overwhelmingly controlled by undergraduates, which means no regulation governing social events is passed without the support of the collegiate members. These regulations governing all fraternity social functions ensure chapters provide a safe environment for all attendees. The Grand Chapter also delegates to the General Fraternity the authority to exercise appropriate discipline for any chapter that fails to uphold these basic expectations.
We’re flattered Twitter staffers tried to imitate their perception of a stereotypical fraternity party. In doing so, however, their employees illustrated a common misunderstanding about the way fraternity events are governed and regulated.
And while we have your attention we hope you’ll check out Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit devoted to closing the gender gap in technology and engineering.