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- ALCOHOL-FREE FRATERNITY HOUSES
Newsletter > March 1997 > "ALCOHOL-FREE FRATERNITY HOUSES"
ALCOHOL-FREE FRATERNITY HOUSES
Robert E. Manley, Manley & Burke
Sigma Nu and Phi Delta Theta have both resolved to discontinue the consumption of alcohol in chapter houses effective the 1st of July, 2000. The parallel actions these two strong fraternities have taken is what they expect to be a leadership position.
Both fraternities already have chapter houses that are alcohol-free and they are encouraging chapters to adopt an alcohol-free policy on their own initiative between now and the 2000 deadline.
They adopted a three-year phase-in period in order to provide educational programs for their chapters and the hope that other fraternities would follow in their path with encouragement from college administrations.
In a letter sent to all college presidents where either fraternity has a chapter, the presidents of both fraternities wrote “* * * we are announcing to you that Sigma Nu and Phi Delta Theta have made a joint commitment. By the year 2000, every chapter of these fraternities will have alcohol-free facilities, or they will not continue to exist as a charter group. We are serious about this initiative. Between now and the year 2000, each chapter will be expected to take specific steps to reach this goal.”
The letter signed by Dr. Robert B. Deloian, President of Phi Delta Theta and E.G. White, President of Sigma Nu, solicits support from college presidents across the country. They also wrote to the college presidents the optimistic hope that “by the year 2000, we anticipate the involvement of all college fraternities.”
[Sigma Nu already has 12 chapters which are alcohol-free and Phi Delta Theta has 11 chapters which are alcohol-free.]
Both fraternities are seeking to stress their fundamental values through a de-emphasis of alcohol in the chapter houses. In the sixties, alcohol became of much greater importance in fraternity houses than it had been previously. This was, in part, a product of the elimination of prior college prohibitions on alcohol in the dormitories. Fraternity houses felt a need to compete with dormitories and perhaps became too effective in their competitive efforts.
“We want to give renewed strength to the core principles of our founders,” said Dr. Deloian. “Our objective, are friendship, encouragement of academic achievement and development of leadership and community service. Abuse of alcohol among the college undergraduates endangers these principles.”
Sigma Nu already has 12 chapters which are alcohol-free and Phi Delta Theta has 11 chapters which are alcohol-free. There has been a noticeable improvement in academic achievement among the chapters that are now alcohol-free.
[Both fraternities are giving incentives to chapters that choose to go alcohol-free before the year 2000.]
A study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that alcohol is a factor in 40% of all academic problems and in 28% of college dropouts. The same study reported that 42% of all students surveyed engaged in binge drinking during the two weeks prior to the survey.
Columbia social scientists have been conducting an annual study of incoming freshmen for 25 years at 460 colleges and universities. Among their findings is that the number of college freshmen who do not drink increased to 47% in 1994, from 21% in 1981. A study by the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education reports that 33% of entering college students would like to live in alcohol-free residential facilities.
Phi Delta Theta has 180 chapters with 7,500 undergraduate members. Sigma Nu has 213 chapters with 8,000 undergraduate members.
Lissa Bradford, Secretary of the National Panhellenic Conference and Co-Chair of the joint NPC-IFC Commission on Substance-Free Housing, cheered the decision of these two fraternities with a pledge that the NPC would urge the chapters of its 26 member groups to give full support to the movement toward substance-free undergraduate housing in fraternity houses. NPC groups have been substance-free for as long as anyone can remember.
To look at the relationship between in-house alcohol consumption and poor academic performance, ungentlemanly behavior, and chapter financial problems, makes this decision inevitable according to Maurice E. Littlefield, Executive Vice President of Sigma Nu.
Chapters may still have events with alcohol, but these events will be away from the fraternity house with an independent contractor providing the space, as well as food and beverages. When fraternities use a third-party vendor for alcoholic beverages, they typically include in the contract a written requirement that the third-party vendor accept responsibility for checking the ages of those who consume alcohol.
Both fraternities are giving incentives to chapters that choose to go alcohol-free before the year 2000. Both fraternities are developing educational programs to encourage chapters to choose to have alcohol-free chapter houses.