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An investigation of the frat party 'door policy'

college culture


Tulane University


An investigation of the frat party 'door policy'

Girls in guys out. Why and for whom.

Simran Rajani


He walked up to the door with the greek letters plastered above it and tried to slide past the boys holding the line.

It was finally his moment.

“Get the hell out of here, bro. Girls, go on in”

Mission unsuccessful.

The frat brother looked at the freshman and held up 5 fingers. With frustration, the freshie stepped away and mingled among those waiting outside the house, recruited five freshman girls he knew from his floor and returned to the entrance with them.

He watched as the five girls breezed through the doorway. He wasn’t surprised when a hand hit his chest, blocking him from proceeding. Whether he had recruited 5 girls or 50, males-- unless they were brothers or had connections-- are prohibited from attending these Broadway parties.

This “Girls-only policy” is par for the course as far as fraternity parties at Tulane go, yet I don’t believe it’s been given proper scrutiny. The issue reaches far beyond a night of gendered rejection or acceptance on Broadway. Ultimately, it’s a feminist issue and a problem with the power dynamics at play within the party culture here at Tulane.

We conducted an anonymous survey of random Tulane students and received 111 responses. 64% of the sample admitted to having tried to attend a party at a fraternity where only non affiliate-females were allowed at certain points in time. 61.3% identified as female, 37.8% as male and the rest as other.

One attendee of frat parties, Sequoia Ragland, said, “it makes me really upset when I get to enjoy a party that some of my guy friends won’t be able to.” She believes the girls-in guys-out system is,“obviously very sexist.”

While Miss Ragland’s opinions hold full truth, is that the only dynamic at play in this system? Freshman boys suffering rejection based on their sex?

No. The door policy described goes beyond gendered rejection. It’s a mechanism designed to achieve a favorable “ratio” of guys to girls at a fraternity party, one that constructs a world where girls are objectified as trophies, signifiers of a “good” party.

Furthermore, the system is proof of an insecurity where brothers see non-affiliate guys as threats to their chances of hooking up with an attendee.

But before we further dissect this dynamic, what do fraternity members think of this policy?

We attempted to interview fraternity brothers about the issue. Of five affiliates we reached out to, four brothers of different houses declined to answer.

The one that did, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us why his frat vets people at the door of their parties. He explains, “We only let guys in that either we know, or someone we know knows due to liability reasons. A guy who gets really drunk is much more likely to cause problems. We vet them based on if a brother knows them and vouches for them because if someone gets too physical then we are liable.” He went on to explain that females were less likely to exhibit such behavior but, if they do, they would also be removed from the house.

Okay, sure. But does risk reduction for the fraternity as a legal entity protect partygoers?

The fact is that sexual assault still happens at fraternity parties. By concentrating male attendance in fraternity members, the likelihood of misconduct being recognized decreases. Their argument shows an emphasis on minimizing illicit acts committed at a party by someone that the fraternity cannot protect, instead of protecting partygoers themselves. Their argument holds up, but with such selfish intentions what is it worth?

Of course, this is only one fraternity's statement. Others may hold different standards. Whatever a frat's rationale, partygoers have widely experienced door policies that insinuate more than just protectionist legal technicalities.

We, as participants in Tulane’s infamous party culture, often turn a blind eye to these facts for the sake of a good time. Sororities' inability to host parties centralizes the power to host parties. This door policy is an extension of the monopoly that fraternities have in greek party culture.

The lack of alternative night life for people under 21 forces a compromised participation, one which has normalized the sexist and hyper-masculine atmosphere of fraternity parties.

It’s important to take note of the power dynamics and gendered structure at play when making seemingly insignificant decisions on where and how you’re partying. The entire system is socially constructed, and if the perpetuation of party culture lies in our collective decisions, do we really want to sustain this system?