Delta Upsilon became the only current fraternity on campus with a nationally mandated alcohol-free policy to obtain full-member status with the University’s Interfraternity Council Wednesday night. By an unanimous vote, the 28-member DU was voted in as an active member of the IFC – a move that allows DU to lead the way toward a new trend in the University’s fraternities: alcohol-free.
“I can feel confident in saying that within the next five to 10 years the majority of our fraternities on campus will be alcohol free,” said IFC President Joel Winston, an LSA senior.
“In our social events, we are starting to see that the houses that are making the effort to start planning social events outside of the fraternity house are being more successful because people are enjoying those more than the typical fraternity party with the warm beer, and the dance floor and the ‘Baby Got Back’ playing in the background. People are tired of that – they’ve done that,” Winston said.
“We represent the new era of fraternity life on campus – not for better or worse, inferior or superior – but simply a new tradition built on brotherhood, philanthropy events as well as social events,” DU President Brandon Phenix said.
Philanthropy interests include setting up a boys and girls club connection, adopting a highway, collecting pop-can tabs for the Ronald McDonald house and erecting a field goal in their front yard to be used for a charity field goal kicking event during Homecoming.
They are in the process of erecting their second field goal; the first one was vandalized. Aside from their philanthropies, however, DU is also involved in ongoing social events.
One sorority president Maggie Weston, who requested that the name of her sorority remain anonymous, explained that it was great that DU invited every sorority for a game of dodge ball on DU’s front lawn during the midst of rush, as it let all of the girls relax, have fun and see friends from other sororities. Over 150 sorority women attended.
“We made them all T-shirts, we gave them hot dogs, food and pop. And they were here for a couple hours as a break during their rush,” said Phenix, an Education senior.
Although DU’s social events do not include alcohol, a mainstay of fraternity-sorority relations in the past, DU’s individual members are not restricted from drinking.
“We’re not touting alcohol as some type of evil. What we’re saying is that we don’t need it in our house,” Phenix said. “For the guys who like to go out and have fun – they do that. They visit other fraternities who have been really cordial, or they can go to the club – wherever they want to go. We have brothers who are not interested in that scene, and we’ll just stay here and play poker on a Friday night.”
But there are consequences for breaking the alcohol policy.
“Anyone who is stupid enough to bring alcohol to our house is automatically fined $100 and they come before our executive board. The chances of them sticking around is slim to none,” Phenix said. “We really make a point to stick to (our values).”
Others members of the Greek community agree that DU maintains its values.
“These are a wonderful group of guys and I have no doubt that they will be successful just because of the type of guys that they are. They don’t need alcohol and they don’t focus on the fact that they don’t have alcohol,” Winston said.
Weston, an LSA junior, added, “There are fraternities and there are frats … and DU lives up to all their fraternity values and ethics daily.”
Another part of DU’s values is the process in which they extend bids for membership.
“Guys’ rush is nowhere near as formal as the girls.’ We can extend bids whenever we feel like it. We’re going to keep extending bids probably all year,” Phenix said. “We are always looking for new guys.”
DU’s pledging process also sets new standards. “We don’t lock guys behind doors and ask them to do things,” Phenix said. “We have events where guys will be doing house chores, but that is only with brothers working right beside them.”
“Our events are not meant to intimidate and not meant to haze. They are meant to build brotherhood and cohesion within our brotherhood,” he added.
It is that brotherhood, cohesion, interest in philanthropy, atypical social events and an absence of alcohol that sets the new trend for fraternities.
“I’d like to think in DU we are building Renaissance Men,” Phenix said.
“These guys are changing things up. I am excited for them,” Winston said.
“For me, I will know when our fraternities here at (the) University of Michigan have hit the ideal point – when you walk into a fraternity and it looks like a sorority house,” Winston added.
Weston also praised the condition of DU’s house.
“I’ve never understood the attraction for guys to live in a house that is disgusting and dirty. (DU’s) house is beautiful.”
“(Alcohol-free) is the general trend – it’s where we’re heading. A lot of people are afraid to deal with it, but I don’t think a lot of the leaders and the presidents that I deal with are afraid to face it,” Winston said.
“(DU is) definitely becoming the trend and not just the smaller percentage.”