On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Interfraternity Council amended its Social Environment Management Policy to ban hard liquor at Tier IIIA and IIIB parties. These registered open parties typically include the members of the fraternity and are limited to 200 guests, and often have crowds that are harder to control than lower-tier parties. The new policy may help foster a cultural shift toward a safer party scene, and it is indicative of an IFC and larger student body with a vested interest in student safety and conscientious alcohol use. However, the University should do more to better protect its students and foster a more responsible party culture.

If enforced, this amendment has potential to curb dangerous drinking on campus. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1,825 college students die annually due to alcohol-related incidents. An estimated 599,000 more students are injured while under the influence and 690,000 are assaulted by a student who has been drinking. The risk of being involved in a sexual assault also increases when alcohol is involved. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly half of binge drinkers reported experiencing more than five drinking-related problems in one year. A study published in 2002 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol reported 31 percent of college students met the criteria for alcohol abuse. While drinking is an undeniable part of college culture, banning hard liquor from large parties may help prevent injury or death. This is a proactive step in the promotion of campus safety, and in the long-term may even help change campus culture by deglamorizing dangerous drinking.

The new ban should be expanded to include other large parties. IFC President Tommy Wydra, an LSA junior, said in an interview with the Daily that he has “absolutely no plans to expand it to Tier II or Tier IIICs.” Tier II parties have a limit of 100 guests and Tier IIICs are limited to 200 but are hosted by more than one fraternity. Parties with 100 guests may still get easily out of control, and monitoring a large group for signs and symptoms of alcohol overdose is not easy, despite the presence of trained sober monitors. Additionally, by not extending the ban to larger parties hosted by more than one fraternity, the IFC is openly ignoring many of Greek life’s larger events. Not extending the ban to parties with more than one host is self-serving, and the safety of partygoers should not be ignored simply because the liability and risk are more dispersed.

While this policy takes a step in the right direction, the University needs to hold fraternities accountable to following the law and enforcing their existing policies and rules. Licensed bars are highly regulated to ensure that alcohol is not served to minors. While fraternity parties do not sell alcohol, they do host a large number of people. More needs to be done to promote legal compliance.

Promoting student safety and changing the college culture of drinking is not the sole responsibility of the IFC. The University needs to be more proactive in educating its students on alcohol safety. Currently, the only mandatory alcohol educational process for non-Greek members is an online program called AlcoholEdu that students complete their freshman year. While this may be a good first step, further education is needed to ensure that students feel safe and confident in their abilities to make responsible decisions. Proper, comprehensive alcohol education is the best way to change the culture of dangerous binge drinking at college parties. One way this education could be formatted is in a facilitated, dialogue-based seminar, similar to Relationship Remix, which students attend freshman year. Education should be continued for all four years as students’ habits change.

Rather than creating policies that stop alcohol consumption completely, it is more important to change the culture of campus by having safer parties. The University has the potential to build its reputation by stepping in and taking action.

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