Last Friday, all 31 of the University’s fraternities signed a new Fraternal Organization Agreement addendum, agreeing to new safety measures for social events. But some students have called into question the stringency of the requirements, which mandate sober brothers at each drink station and at stairs to residential rooms, regulate the types of alcohol present and how it is served, and require guest lists for all social functions. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, James Madison University and Virginia Tech, among others, similar safety measures already exist.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The Fraternity and Sorority Life Alcohol Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has required security guards and guest lists, along with other safety measures, since 1997. Aaron Bachenheimer, the Director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement at UNC, said these policies, when adhered to, make parties safer.
“There’s always challenges with policies,” Bachenheimer said. “You can create the greatest policy in the world, but policy is only as good as enforcement and accountability.”
For this reason, he said, education and training about these policies is necessary on an annual basis.
“Every year we go through a retraining of everyone in our community, to help them understand not only what the policy is but the responsibility for adherence to the policy,” Bachenheimer said.
At UNC, most of the challenges in regard to alcohol policy lie with enforcement and accountability, not with the policy itself.
“Most of our policies are verbatim FIPG [Fraternal Information and Planning Group] national risk management policies, so there wouldn’t be a lot to argue with,” Bachenheimer said. “All of our organizations already have a responsibility to adhere to those policies through their own national organizations.”
Almost all policies at the University of North Carolina are very similar to national risk management policy, which existed at the individual chapter level for all Greek life groups since before 1997, when the Fraternity and Sorority Life Alcohol Policy was first passed.
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland’s 2012 IFC/PHA Alcohol Management and Social Event Monitoring Policy requires two sober chapter officers at all events, a guest list of five invites per brother, “visible, easily accessible food located in the main guest area” and visibly displayed non-alcoholic beverages. Drinks are received in exchange for tickets from designated bartenders only.
Additionally, chapters of both fraternities and sororities must participate in sexual assault prevention or relationship violence prevention programs and train all new members in alcohol responsibility and risk management.
The university also requires dry recruitment events.
James Madison University
Fraternities at James Madison University are required to have a minimum of six sober brothers at “non-third party vendor events,” with at least one sober member from the organization’s executive board to oversee other designated sober members, according to the University’s Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils Standards Policy.
Registered Greek events at JMU are required to have non-alcoholic beverages, excluding energy drinks, available and visible at the bar. Liquor and wine are prohibited from these events unless permitted by national policy. Similar to the University’s new addendum, beer must be served in its original container.
This policy also requires each fraternity or sorority president, social chair and risk manager to receive training on proper risk management and to educate other members about university policies before any social event.
For Greek events and parties at Virginia Tech, chapters’ main obligation is to register their event with the university.
“If they’re having an event that has alcohol at it, they just simply have to let us know that they’re having the event,” Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Byron Hughes said. “We will work with the police department to essentially schedule a walkthrough before an event to make certain that they have taken care of all of the risk management guidelines that they are supposed to adhere to.”
Only fraternities and sororities located on-campus must register events with the university. There is no registration or approval process for Greek chapters either off-campus or without a house.
“Beyond this, there are no additional requirements other than creating a safe event and abiding with university policy and local laws,” Hughes said.
He said Virginia Tech and its fraternities and sororities have a relationship statement, or a broad statement which dives into specific obligations of both university and national chapters, instead of a signed agreement between every chapter.
Unlike the University’s new FOA addendum, that agreement does not specify policies regarding events or parties. It does, however, emphasize compliance with local, state and federal laws as well as university policies.