The University must back the IFC’s hard alcohol ban

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

The University must back the IFC’s hard alcohol ban

The GW Hatchet

By Editorial Board

April 22, 2019

Fraternities will soon trade in hard liquor bottles for beer cans when the North American Interfraternity Conference implements a hard liquor ban.

The ban, which will prohibit fraternities from obtaining drinks with more than 15 percent alcohol in chapters’ homes, will go into effect for the Interfraternity Council in the fall. In addition to the ban, the IFC will require fraternities to designate a sober monitor during parties. Fraternities are enacting these measures with good intentions, but it is going to require more than the IFC to ensure all chapters follow the ban.

The IFC should not be the only organization enforcing the policy. Fraternities nationwide have struggled to prevent binge drinking and harassment, and the ban will only be effective if there is another party enforcing the new policy. The University must back the IFC’s hard alcohol ban and outline consequences for not upholding the rules to help curb binge drinking among fraternities.

The IFC’s new mandate looks good on paper, but writing a rule into the bylaws does not mean all fraternities will abide by the policy. While the organization might trust its fraternities to self-police, it should also be the responsibility of officials to take care of their students. Fraternities took a step in the right direction with these new rules, but mitigating issues of binge drinking and harassment is a University wide problem that cannot only be addressed by writing the ban into an IFC rulebook.

The University’s alcohol policy currently outlines rules that ban overconsumption of alcohol, but it does not include a ban on hard liquor or requirements for a sober monitor. Incorporating the policy into its current alcohol regulations would ensure the IFC and the University are on the same page with rules regarding alcohol consumption and can impose violations for fraternities found breaking the rules.

The IFC and the Panhellenic Association have already worked to crack down on sexual assault and binge drinking in Greek life. The organizations produced recommendations to create a sexual assault resource book and will soon mandate sexual assault prevention trainings. The IFC has also held roundtable discussions for all chapters to discuss implementing the hard liquor ban and other issues like mental health. The IFC is clearly working to address problems that affect its chapters, but there may be no meaningful change unless the University is behind these efforts.

Last year, at least three fraternities did not undergo mandatory sexual assault prevention trainings and were fined by the IFC – a lesser punishment than the IFC previously outlined when the trainings were first required 2017. If the IFC is unwilling to crack down on fraternities for not following its rules, it is unlikely that there will be severe consequences from the IFC for breaking the hard alcohol ban.

The policy would carry more weight if the University could also crack down on fraternities that do not follow the rules. Instead of sanctioning chapters with fines, GW could place holds on students’ accounts who do not comply with the ban, similar to the way officials penalize students who do not complete mandatory diversity trainings for incoming freshmen. Creating clear consequences for neglecting a hard alcohol ban will ensure fraternities understand the legitimacy of the policy.

Ensuring the safety of students is the responsibility of the University. Rather than offload the implementation of this rule to the IFC, the University must stand alongside the organization and implement rules and regulations that show GW not only backs the policy but will also enforce it. Fraternities are under the jurisdiction of the IFC and each chapter’s national council, but they make up campus life and their actions should be held accountable by the University.

The IFC is taking steps in the right direction but needs to be held responsible for upholding this ban by the University. There is much more that could be done by the University and the IFC to curb issues of binge drinking, sexual assault and harassment brought about by excessive drinking, but officials need to stand alongside the IFC in this new policy to make impactful change.