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- A DEATH IN TEXAS
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- ALCOHOL-FREE HOUSING WORKS
Newsletter > January 2006 > "ALCOHOL-FREE HOUSING WORKS"
ALCOHOL-FREE HOUSING WORKS
Robert Manley, Manley Burke
In 1997, Phi Delta Theta announced its intention to have all of its houses alcohol-free effective July 1, 2000. Naysayers predicted a parade of horribles: shrinking chapters, recruitment problems, loss of chapters, and general shrinkage. None of the parade of horribles has occurred. On the contrary, the Fraternity goals are being met. These goals were:
- Improve academic standing
- Increase recruitment numbers
- Reinvolve alumni
- Stabilize insurance costs
- Meet the needs of today’s college students
A recent examination of the results by Dr. Edward G. Whipple,1 Vice President for Student Affairs, Bowling Green State University, shows success on all counts.
Improved academic performance shows up in the numbers. In 2004, the average chapter grade point average was 2.93 on a 4.0 scale. This is compared to 2.73 in the fall of 2000. For the past three semesters, the average chapter grade point average has been above 2.9.
The predicted decline in membership did not arrive. Dr. Whipple finds, “While the membership trends for all fraternities continue to indicate a decline, Phi Delta Theta has continued to be well above the average of all fraternities in initiates, new members, and total chapter size. Statistically, Phi Delta Theta has held steady against the trend since the implementation of alcohol-free housing.”
Dr. Whipple finds that the average Phi Delta Theta chapter is larger than the average chapter size of all other fraternities. “In 1990, Phi Delta Theta chapters were 18% larger than the average fraternity chapter, and in 2004 they were 30% larger.”
In 2004, Dr. Whipple reports Phi Delta Theta was one of only 13 national and international fraternities to enjoy an increase in total undergraduate membership from the previous year. Phi Delta Theta had a 4.2% increase.
Dr. Whipple also concludes that, “Since the implementation of alcohol-free housing, Phi Delta Theta has undergone one of its largest ‘growth spurts’ in the history of the modern fraternity.”
One of the economic indicators that alerted the General Council of Phi Delta Theta that there was a problem was the rapidly rising premiums for liability insurance. After the fraternity adopted a nationwide policy of alcohol-free housing, claims, including lawsuits, went down. In 1997, the year the policy was announced, there were 12 claims. The first year of alcohol-free housing had 12 claims. 2003 and 2004 each had one minor claim. Dr. Whipple concludes, “The decrease in the number of claims and lawsuits shows a correlation with the implementation of alcohol-free housing policy.” It has also led to the stabilization of the per man liability insurance costs.
Anecdotally, he reports that alumni volunteers are now more willing to get involved in chapter affairs. The alcohol-free housing makes it easier to pursue the founding principles of Greek-letter organizations, “including fellowship, academic excellence, leadership, high standards of conduct, and service.”
The entire Greek world will watch the outcome at Phi Delta Theta in the next five years. If the results continue in this positive manner, perhaps more groups will adopt similar policies.
The fact that all sororities and some fraternities are now alcohol-free does not alter the fact that on our campuses there is a strong alcohol culture. At least those fraternities and sororities that have dry houses are not forcing their members to live and sleep in “a would-be neighborhood saloon.” Even the most avid enthusiasts for neighborhood saloons would never want to live and sleep in one.
1 Mr. Edward G. Whipple’s report can be found at http://www.phideltatheta.org/pdf/white%20paper%20AFH.pdf