When it is finally safe to go out and party again, there may be a new, unique option for Binghamton University students to check out.
Venus is a female-run organization looking to host parties in the Binghamton area. Having started over the summer, the group is still in its infancy but hopes to replicate the atmosphere of fraternity parties. Sam Carroll, co-president of Venus and a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said Venus aims to change the party culture at BU in a way that empowers women.
“The Greek life system hasn’t really been changed since it was started,” Carroll said. “Sororities really can’t have parties and for a lot of reasons that’s actually by law — that’s in their charters. And that seems to allow fraternities to get away with really bad behavior because women are kept reliant on men in order to have access to their social spaces. So, I thought it would be really important to have a space where women can host parties.”
Many sororities are governed by the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), which mandates no alcohol in sorority houses, leaving sororities to throw mixers with fraternities at the fraternity’s house.
Due to issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the group will not be holding parties until the pandemic is over. In the meantime, members are working on growing the organization, establishing an executive board and finding a location to hold parties. They are not currently chartered by the Student Association (SA).
Venus was formed in response to accounts of sexual assault posted to @shareyourstorybing, an Instagram account for survivors of sexual violence at BU to tell their stories. Many allegations accuse Greek life members and other organizations of committing and perpetuating sexual assault at parties. Carroll hopes Venus can provide a party space free of these behaviors.
“We’re offering it up as an alternative,” Carroll said. “Give us a chance, see if you like this party better because, honestly, a party where you feel safer [is where] you will have more fun, and that’s what we’re trying to be.”
Venus plans on enforcing measures to make its parties safer than those of fraternities. These include selling beverages in closed containers, having sober attendees at the party who can intervene if necessary and ways to make sure attendees get home safe. If someone is a known abuser, they will not be allowed into the space.
Joanna Wong, a junior majoring in biochemistry, said Venus is a great idea and feels like she has become disenchanted over time with fraternity parties at BU.
“I feel like my perception of frats has changed significantly in the past few years,” Wong wrote. “My friends and I stopped going to frats as time went on and as we started to recognize the typical attitudes and events that manifested at their parties.”
Although Venus intends to challenge the norm of partying for BU students and acknowledges problems with Greek life, it does not want to abolish it. Alexxa Bisnar, co-president of Venus and a sophomore majoring in business administration, emphasized the inclusivity Venus is trying to foster.
“Our goal isn’t to try and get rid of [Greek life], we’re just trying to create a space that either non-Greek Life members can go to or even Greek life [members],” Bisnar said. “Anyone can attend, and it doesn’t feel that it’s managed, operated and owned by men because that might make people feel unsafe.”
Payton Watson, a senior majoring in English, said Venus is a positive change to the local party scene and provides students with more options when going out.
“I think Venus sounds great,” Watson wrote. “Going to a party run by women sounds like it would be a lot more accommodating, less intimidating, cleaner, overall an equalizing idea that would give women — and men — a chance to not rely on gang mentality to have fun.”
While the group’s main function is currently hindered by the pandemic, Carroll has big plans for Venus.
“I definitely see Venus becoming an idea that gets popular other places — I would love to see that,” Carroll said. “I want for Venus to revolutionize the way we as college students socialize and think of the way we socialize and consider our social spaces because Greek life, in its essence, was built to keep women reliant on men to have their social fun on the weekends. We want people to see parties as a space that doesn’t have to be dangerous — it doesn’t have to be dangerous and scary to have fun.”