Fraternities Across the U.S. Are Making An Important Change To Their Alcohol Policy

They have a year to make the change.

Fraternity life on college campuses across the United States will undergo a major change over the coming year. Over 6,000 fraternity chapters nationwide will instill a stricter alcohol policy banning hard liquor from their events, as mandated by a new series of rules from the national umbrella organization for fraternities.

On Tuesday, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), a governing association that represents 66 different men's fraternities, announced the new policy, which bars most frat houses from imbibing in alcohol "above 15% ABV" (alcohol by volume). While that excludes beer and wine, it does include all hard liquor, including whiskey, vodka, and tequila. Under the new guidelines, hard alcohol will only be permissible if served by a licensed and insured third-party vendor at a registered social event.

According to the NIC, the decision to implement the change was made "in a near unanimous vote." Fraternity chapters have a year — until the deadline of September 2019 — to adopt the policy.

The move follows years of concerns related to drinking behavior and safety within Greek life at universities. Pressure for reform increased last year after a series of hazing and drinking-related deaths of fraternity members and pledges, including two headline-making cases in Pennsylvania and Louisiana. 

In February 2017, Penn State sophomore Tim Piazza died of severe head and abdominal injuries after falling several times at his fraternity house the night of a bid acceptance ceremony. As USA Today reports, he had consumed three to four times the state's legal alcohol limit. In September of that same year, 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver died of alcohol poisoning the morning after a hazing ritual in which he was required to drink large amounts of liquor. 

The NIC's new policy on hard alcohol is the latest step in the organization's ongoing efforts to further promote safety in fraternities and sororities. "It should make a meaningful difference," Piazza's father, Jim Piazza said after the announcement. "There are other reforms they need to put into place, and there's still work to do. But this is a beginning."

As noted in its press release, the NIC has launched a series of health and safety initiatives throughout the last year, including "Conference-wide adoption of medical Good Samaritan policies; piloting further measures to reduce alcohol, and testing measures to reduce hazing in the new member experience."

Several Greek organizations have reportedly already banned hard liquor in recent reform efforts. Purdue University banned hard liquor among fraternities in 2015, inspiring other frats, including those at the University of Missouri, University of Kansas, and Indiana University to do the same. 

Cover image via  Syda Productions / Shutterstock.

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