New policies for Greeks target drinking

by Staff

Warning: Incoming freshmen may experience nasty dorm food, nightmarish roommates and even homesickness. However, San Diego State officials want to leave the raging fraternity bacchanals off the list of inevitable college experiences, at least for the first few weeks of school.

The university has adopted several new policies for fraternities and sororities this fall including a mandatory five-week long alcohol ban, which went into effect Aug. 25 and will continue through Sept. 28.

The ban requires that all Greek events be completely alcohol-free and applies to all fraternity and sorority-related events regardless of location.

Doug Case, the Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, explained that the first few weeks of school often represent the highest risk for students coming to college for the first time. There is often a spike in the number of reported alcohol poisoning incidents at the start of the school year, he added.

“When the freshmen get here, the first thing they want to do is go find a party, and the first place they go to do that is often Fraternity Row,” Case said. “We wanted to not continue the tradition of freshmen coming to campus for the first time and using the fraternities as a venue to party.”

Case said chapters that violate the policy would automatically lose the privilege of having alcohol at their parties for members and guests who are 21 years of age or older for the remainder of the semester.

“We will also look at the specifics of the violation,” Case said. “If the violation occurs during recruitment, there may be additional consequences for (that chapter’s) recruitment process next semester.”

The alcohol ban coincides with the annual Aztec Nights, which is a series of free events offered to both new and continuing SDSU students. The events include dancing, martial arts demonstrations, free food, concerts and midnight bowling.

“These are excellent events that the university has planned and we didn’t want fraternity parties going on down the street to conflict,” Case said. “The five-week ban was designed to coincide with Aztec Nights to get students to focus on healthy activities for socializing.”

The second new policy is the new Pre-Recruitment Educational Program, which requires potential members to view a PowerPoint presentation covering everything from hazing to the effects of drug and alcohol abuse and the expectations of Greek membership. Students will then take a 25-question quiz that tests material covered in the presentation. Prospective new members will be required to complete the quiz prior to receiving a bid or an invitation to join a fraternity or sorority.

The PowerPoint presentation is an extensive 70-slide demonstration that includes six different sections outlining the consequences of policy violation at SDSU. It incorporates legal consequences and defines prohibited activity, such as hazing and raiding, and is available online at

The final new standard introduced this semester will be that students on disciplinary probation will not be allowed to join a Greek organization. In the past, students on academic probation were not eligible to join, but this is the first year the university has extended the policy to also include disciplinary probation.

“If a freshman comes in and gets in trouble the first week of school for drinking alcohol in their (residence hall) room, that first offense, the first alcohol violation, usually results in probation and that person will not be eligible for recruitment,” Case said.

Students say they think the fraternities and sororities will abide by the new regulations, including the alcohol ban, because none of the organizations want to be caught.

“(University officials) are going to make an example out of the first fraternity caught with alcohol, so all the fraternities are going to be very careful not to be the first one caught violating the policy,” Vice President of External Affairs Daniel Osztreicher said.

Case said that the new policies are not a direct result of last spring’s Operation Sudden Fall, an undercover drug sting during which two fraternities were placed on suspension.

“The university has been looking for about a year at ways of enhancing our alcohol awareness and educational programs,” Case said. “Operation Sudden Fall certainly created a sense of immediacy to complete the program, but university committees have been looking at these issues prior to Operation Sudden Fall.”

Case said that the university began to take a proactive approach to addressing alcohol and drug abuse issues in the spring of 2007 when a Web survey revealed that members of the Greek community were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

The survey, conducted by the Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives committee, shows that 50.8 percent of Greek-affiliated students reported having participated in recent heavy drinking compared with only 35.4 percent of campus residents.

While only 46.1 percent of campus residents reported having used marijuana in the last year, 64.4 percent of Greeks reported having done so.

When the five-week long alcohol ban lifts, the fraternities and sororities should continue to be careful and responsible at parties, Case said.

“There may be a tendency for the fraternities and sororities to want to throw parties as soon as the ban lifts,” Case said. “There will probably be more parties the week after the ban lifts because that is the nature of students. However, the strict policies that govern parties with alcohol will still be in effect and all organizations will be encouraged to diligently follow all the rules.”

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