SMU is not known as a party school, at least according to the party-school power rankers. But this is still college, where people have a tendency to gather in large groups and drink, and the school does have a robust Greek scene, so there are parties at SMU, and they can get pretty big.
But only to a point. The Daily Campus reported this week (the page is down but Google cache is not) that the SMU administration has put in place what's been dubbed The 400 Rule, capping parties, both on- and off-campus, at 400.
See also: SMU Alum Has Idea for Boosting Student Attendence at Games: No More Tailgating! That might seem like plenty of people for a party. But by SMU frat standards, it's not.
"At first when we got told at the (Greek mandatory organizational) meeting, it was almost bedlam," says Billy Embody, student spokesman for the SMU Interfraternity Council. "People were still sitting down but people were just laughing and totally in awe at the rule."
SMU already had a party-size rule that allowed three guests for every member of the sponsoring organization, according the The Daily Campus. Groups had to give the university a guest list in advance to confirm the rule was followed, though Embody said the parties often swelled beyond that size with no consequences.
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Kristal Statler, the university's director of fraternity and sorority life, told the paper the new rule was put in place to allow organizations with, say, a dozen members, to have larger events while still ensuring "that events are done in a safe manner," presumably one that limits the school's exposure to lawsuits. (Neither Statler nor a SMU spokesperson returned our calls.)
But that went over like an empty keg. No one had a problem with letting smaller groups have bigger parties, but the cap, initially set at 300, seemed arbitrary, not to mention low. It was eventually raised to 400, but still. There are well-established events that attract significantly more than 400 people. Students worried that the school was trying to shut down tradition.
In the end, Embody said, the school tweaked the rule to accommodate formals and certain special events, which has eased concerns. But not completely.
"I see what they're doing, and I completely agree with giving the small organizations room to grow their events, because I think that's important," Embody says. "I don't know really why there has to be a cap on the parties."