The North American Interfraternity Council (NIC) shocked fraternities nationwide when it was announced in August that chapters had one year to ban hard alcohol. However, the University of Minnesota's Interfraternity Council (IFC) decided to jump-start the process, with the ban starting on Sept. 31. While the new policy is working toward solving the many issues alcohol brings, it's only the first step.
Earlier this month, the University community was forced to respond to the second alcohol-related death of a campus fraternity member in a year. And this isn’t the only alcohol-related issue; sexual assault and substance misuse are among other issues that fraternities have struggled with in the past.
The ban, which prohibits any alcohol over 15 percent alcohol by volume at any fraternity events, is expected to be implemented into all chapter bylaws by the end of the month. While all Greek organizations already have efforts and policies in place regarding alcohol use, it's clearly not effective — resulting in NIC's announcement.
Although the ban is expected to limit hazing and other alcohol-related issues, such as death or sexual assault, the IFC is undecided on enforcement mechanisms. The ban is questionable; with no enforcement policies in place, fraternities would not be held responsible for those who do bring in hard alcohol. It goes without saying that party-goers will sneak in hard alcohol, such as tequila, vodka and rum if no enforcement mechanisms are clearly outlined.
Unfortunately, not all on-campus fraternities are apart of the NIC, and therefore aren’t subjected to the ban. Tau Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Sigma and Phi Delta Theta are the only fraternities unaffected, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enforce similar policies.
In fact, Tau Kappa Epsilon’s Grand Council recently announced a hard-alcohol ban that must be implemented by Jan. 1. Kappa Sigma and Phi Delta Theta have not made any announcements regarding a hard alcohol ban at this time.
The IFC must quickly decide how to enforce the ban, ensuring fraternity members and members of the community are safe. One clear way to enforce the ban is through the suspension of chapters that break bylaws. However, the only way to ensure that fraternities are staying true to the ban is by having the University IFC regularly review chapters when hard alcohol is present, which would presumably be during their parties.
While the NIC has realized that alcohol-related issues is a serious problem, the IFC must take this realization and implement hard enforcement policies to hold chapters responsible. A cultural shift may be necessary as well. It’s important chapters understand that Greek life doesn’t need to be centered around alcohol, but instead brotherhood, personal development and sustaining a supportive community.