National fraternity body calls for liquor ban at chapters
- The North-American Interfraternity Conference (NAIC) has called on its 66 member fraternities to ban hard liquor in their facilities and at events, except when served by a licensed third-party vendor, starting next September in response to several high-profile deaths resulting from alcohol abuse involving chapters.
- The resolution, which had nearly unanimous approval, is a stronger statement about bad behavior by fraternities than the NAIC has made in the past. "Nearly all hazing and over-consumption deaths in the past two years have involved students consuming high-percentage alcohol beverages," the NAIC explained on its website. "The Conference felt it was critically important to act with one voice to effectively implement an industry-wide standard." The ban applies to alcohol products above 15% ABV, meaning most beer and wine are still permitted.
- While the national organization sets standards for conduct, fraternities mostly govern themselves. There are calls for the NAIC to take a stronger position. In an exhaustive article by The Atlantic about the alcohol-involved hazing death of a fraternity member at Penn State University, the conference's CEO, when reminded of some particularly egregious activity, mused whether he was "just fighting for a bunch of idiots."
Three presidents from universities where serious issues have occurred at fraternities are attempting to get institutions to work together toward a solution, and develop a national scorecard that would track misconduct among Greek organizations and provide administrators with ideas about addressing concerns. The action grew out of a meeting of representatives from more than 30 higher education institutions hoping to establish stronger guidance for sororities and fraternities.
Last month, West Virginia University President Gordon Gee sent an email to parents recommending that they and their students avoid a handful of fraternities that had threatened to separate from the university because he had instituted stricter rules on alcohol and drug abuse and misconduct. In January, a settlement was reached in the death of 18-year-old WVU student Nolan Burch, who died during a hazing activity in November 2014 when he drank excessively and was left unattended after passing out. Fraternity pledges died at four universities in 2017 during hazing events.
Campuses are using a variety of tactics to address the issue. At Florida State University, $1 million has been used to develop and implement several policy changes, including how alcohol is served at parties. Cornell University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona have improved information about hazing that goes to parents, students and faculty members.
Other experts recommend getting community businesses on board about not serving alcohol to minors.
Officials note that Greek life groups have influence on institutions. For example, while just 19% of Indiana University alumni in a database were members of Greek life, those alumni accounted for 60% of donations to the university.
- North-American Interfraternity Conference Policy Prohibiting Alcohol Above 15% ABV