US college fraternities are banning members from serving hard alcohol

Last call for hard liquor.
Last call for hard liquor.
Image: AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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By this time next year, fraternity parties in the US and Canada could be a little more sober.

At this year’s North-American Interfraternity Conference, member fraternities voted “near-unanimously” to ban drinks with an alcohol content of 15% or more at more than 6,100 chapters on 800 campuses. Member fraternities have 12 months to adopt and implement policies that prohibit such beverages at any chapter facility or event, putting the kibosh on all hard liquor and even some wines.

There is a loophole, however: Hard alcohol can still be served by third-party vendors with a liquor license, allowing fraternities to hire bartenders or caterers for the evening to meet the minimum requirements.

On its website, the NIC noted a close correlation between consuming high-alcohol beverages and “nearly all” incidents of hazing and death by overconsumption in the past two years. By their estimate, more than 90% of students living in fraternity houses are also under 21. The new rules would ban hard alcohol in common areas and private living spaces alike.

How the rule would be enforced isn’t yet clear. Many fraternities houses are off-campus and privately owned by the fraternities, placing the onus on students to abide by the rules. Ultimately, as NIC president Judson Horras told the New York Times, “there is no perfect silver bullet for working with college students.”

If students don’t cooperate, they could face more serious consequences than a hangover or slap on the wrist. Last week, New Jersey’s Monmouth University announced plans to suspend Greek life indefinitely after a rash of “serious conduct violations,” ranging from hazing to alcohol abuse.