Geeks Versus Greeks in Berkeley

Neighborhood association threatens to take 35 fraternities and sororities to court

By Jackson West
|  Monday, Jan 18, 2010  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Geeks Versus Greeks in Berkeley

Andrew Ratto

The aftermath of a fraternity party earlier this month on Greek Row in Berkeley.

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You might think that life in Berkeley is all direct-action protests, campus building takeovers, and marches on the home of the chancellor.

But neighbors near the "Greek Row" to the south of campus seem to be more worried about the drunken antics associated with fraternity and sorority parties than student activists.

Durant Avenue résident Paul Ghysels and the recently formed South of Campus Neighborhood Association are asking Alameda County courts to intervene in what it is alleging to be an orgy of underage drinking and related violence, bring a lawsuit against all 35 campus fraternity and sorority organizations.

Louis Garcia, the plaintiff's attorney, tells of home break-ins, bottles thrown and injuries requiring medical attention including one complaint of a neighbor suffering multiple broken bones.

Cal's director of fraternity and sorority life Garahaeme Hesp says he's seen an improvement in behavior since taking the job in 2006, but told the Oakland Tribune "It's like trying to turn around an oil tanker in the middle of the Pacific 180 degrees."

The suit demands that the fraternity houses employ live-in supervisors, leading the Daily Clog to imagine a conversation among potential supervisors starting along these lines:

So none of us like being woken up at 3 a.m. by those damn college kids, but one of us is gonna have to live with them. Who wants to spend most of their day with the people we managed to majorly piss off?

Photo by Andrew Ratto.

Jackson West lived in an NYU dorm across the hall from "adult supervision," which didn't stop him from making plenty of terrible judgement calls.

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