The Interfraternity Council adopted a policy Tuesday to end alcohol distribution at fraternity parties by next year, adding the council to a growing list of groups waging a nationwide assault on the campus drinking culture.
The list starts at fraternity row and extends to Capitol Hill.
While House members approved a new grant to improve and expand college alcohol awareness programs, University officials are lining up for the money to augment efforts already in place to curb drinking.
The policy passed by the fraternity council would prohibit greek houses from providing alcohol to guests. If guests want to drink, they have to bring their own alcoholic beverages, a move that aims to cut down on underage and reckless drinking.
Federal lawmakers included alcohol provisions in the House-approved version of the Higher Education Act. The expansive legislation, which shapes federal student aid and college funding for the next five years, now awaits Senate vote.
Many schools, including the University, already enforce strict policies, much to the chagrin of students. From Michigan State University to Washington State University students have turned to riots to illustrate their displeasure with alcohol restrictions.
The so-called “right to party” movement is sweeping the nation, but University officials insist the climate is not ripe for a riot here.
“We’re not a party school,” said Amelious Whyte, coordinator of chemical health programs at Boynton Health Service. “We just don’t have that kind of a history.”
Although the University ranks fourth in the nation in campus alcohol arrests, the numbers are misleading, said Jane Canney, chairwoman of the University’s Response to Alcohol Misuse and Abuse task force. Assertive enforcement of policies and nonstudent arrests on campus inflated the statistics, she said.
“Compared to other universities, we are very ahead of the game,” he said.
After drinking-related deaths at schools in Massachusetts and Louisiana last fall, University administrators set up a task force to deal with alcohol issues. The same council now coordinates alcohol cessation and prevention programs across the University.
Fraternities, as shown by Tuesday’s policy passage, want to pitch in.
“We don’t assume this is the solution to all our problems,” said Dan Campion, president of the Interfraternity Council. “But it is a step in the right direction.”
Still, University officials are closely watching the higher education legislation, hoping to secure drinking prevention grants. Lawmakers haven’t decided how much money, if any, would be available for the grant fund, but University officials said any amount would bolster education programs.
In addition to the proposed federal grant program, which would be open to all colleges and universities that provide a comprehensive plan to combat campus alcohol problems, the Higher Education Act would set up a scoring system to recognize leading colleges in the anti-alcohol campaign.
At the same time, House members approved a measure suggesting colleges change the alcohol culture on campuses by:
ù appointing a task force on drug and alcohol abuse;
ù providing “dry” alternatives to students;
ù enforcing zero tolerance for illegal use of drugs and alcohol;
offering counseling for students;
ù and limiting alcohol promotion and sponsorship on campuses.
House officials acknowledged that mandates alone would not solve campus alcohol problems.
“It’s one component in a multi-faceted approach to binge drinking,” said Brandon Mitchell, legislative assistant in charge of education for Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass. Kennedy proposed the alcohol amendments to the bill in response to drinking-related deaths and campus riots.