UM bans alcohol for sororities, fraternities for month
By Andrea Olson, KECI Reporter
September 29, 2015
MISSOULA, Mont. – All fraternities and sororities at the University of Montana are temporarily banned from hosting events that involve alcohol. This comes after concerning behavior the last few weeks, including Homecoming weekend.
On Monday the Fraternity and Sorority Involvement interim assistant director sent a letter to all chapter presidents announcing the ban.
The letter says a break from drinking starts immediately and will last at least through the end of October. It means no chapter can host events or social functions involving alcohol.
Members who are of legal age to drink may do so, but still must abide by the guidelines in the mutual agreement.
The university received a series of complaints stemming from incidents over the last several weeks. Complaints say chapter members have been rambunctious, drinking and being poor neighbors within the university district.
The Greek system is growing. There are seven fraternities and four sororities with about 500 members at the University of Montana, when just about a decade ago there were only 200 members.
“Overall, the men and the women who are members of the Greek system have a higher GPA than the overall student body does, they are involved in a lot of community activities,” said Peggy Kuhr, vice president for integrated communications at the University of Montana.
Kuhr says the Greek system on campus has a positive reputation. In fact, another male chapter is in the process of being created.
She says it’s important to uphold standards. However, with recent complaints, the letter indicates it’s time to take a step back from alcohol and discuss the purpose, role and responsibilities that members have.
It’s also to make sure the mission and representation of the chapters are all in the best light.
“We don’t want to have any major event happen that turns into a tragedy,” said Kuhr.
The Panhellenic president says every chapter agrees to expectations for academics, service, citizenship and behavior. The letter is a first for her. She’s been in a sorority for four years.
“There’s been kind of a mixed emotion about it, but I know a lot of the leadership in the community. We’re kind of taking as a positive that there’s a lot more to sororities and fraternities than drinking,” said Shelby Lambdin.
In the detailed letter sent out to members, the interim assistant director wrote, “Going forward, I challenge our chapters to hold themselves and each other accountable.” She went on to say, “I would like to have focused conversations within the community next month about how we can improve our membership experiences.”
“We’ve kind of been focusing on precautionary and preventive measures so that we don’t become one of those campuses that are scrutinized in the media,” said Lambdin.
Kuhr says the effort is less policing and more about how to take accountability on the members’ shoulders.
The letter says, “Failure to adhere to the social restrictions could result in chapter probation.”
We checked the University’s policy on drinking at Greek organizations: The possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages at men’s and women’s fraternity houses must follow the rules under the University of Montana Greek relationship agreement their national chapters, local ordinances and state and federal laws.
Those over 21 can store and drink alcoholic beverages in their own rooms.
Planned social functions at the house that include alcohol must be registered with the Greek life advisor 30 days before to the event.
At any event where alcohol is served, trained alcohol servers must be used to make sure no one under the legal drinking age is served, as well as anyone who seems overly intoxicated.