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National Organization Governing Fraternities Bans Alcohol

The NIC has banned fraternities from serving hard alcohol at chapter events in an effort to reduce alcohol abuse and hazing tragedies.

National Organization Governing Fraternities Bans Alcohol

Beer, wine, and malt beverages, which all fall below the 15 percent alcohol by volume threshold, will be still be allowed.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) has come out with new Health and Safety Standards that will ban fraternities from serving hard alcohol at any chapter event.

This new rule will be implemented on Sept. 1, 2019, across 800 campuses and more than 6,100 chapters.

Nearly all hazing and alcohol-abuse deaths involved students consuming high-percentage alcohol in the past two years, according to the NIC. The policy specifies alcohol cannot have an ABV (alcohol by volume) over 15 percent.

One of the hazing tragedies prompting the policy change was the death of Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore at Penn State, who died in 2017 from injuries sustained during a bid acceptance ceremony, according to USA Today.

Security footage showed the pledges drinking alcohol and Piazza falling several times. Authorities later confirmed he consumed three to four times the legal limit for alcohol.

Piazza’s parents have since been speaking out on the dangers of hazing and alcohol. Jim Piazza, Tim’s father, believes the new standard is a good start.

“It should make a meaningful difference,” Piazza said. “There are other reforms they need to put into place, and there’s still work to do. But this is a beginning.”

The new hard alcohol ban is the latest in a series of NIC health and safety initiatives.

Last year, a medical Good Samaritan Policy was implemented at each NIC member fraternity. Many students do not feel comfortable calling 911 in an emergency involving alcohol abuse, fearing they will get in trouble themselves.  The Good Samaritan policy prioritizes health and safety, and encourages students to call for help when someone is in critical condition.

All chapters are now required to receive health and safety programming. With this education and training, NIC hopes fraternities will be more suited to prevent issues involving hazing, alcohol, drugs and sexual abuse.

In 2017, NIC partnered with ChapterSpot, a leader in the fraternal technology space to provide data and support the advancement of the community. Their technology enabled the development of Social Safe, a new app that will help manage and plan safer social events.

NIC has also voted to support enhanced health and safety policies to reduce alcohol abuse among fraternities. This pilot program includes the following policies:

  1. No hard alcohol in fraternity houses
  2. Alcohol can only be used in common spaces during a social event
  3. Hard alcohol (15% ABV or above) can only be served at registered events by a third-party vendor
  4. Each fraternity will reduce and cap the number of events involving alcohol
  5. Social Safe will help fraternities make events safer using their event management procedures
  6. Social Safe technology will help check attendees in and out of events to control size.

The NIC says these new standards show the commitment to further the safety of students and have already seen positive results.

“Our IFC and member fraternities eliminated hard alcohol from facilities and events on our campus several years ago and have seen a positive shift in our culture when it comes to the health and safety of our members and guests,” said Seth Gutwein, Purdue University IFC President. “With all NIC fraternities implementing this critical change, it will provide strong support for fraternities to move as one to make campus communities safer.”

You can read the entire NIC Health and Safety Standards here.

About the Author

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Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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