The North-American Interfraternity Conference released a memo on Sept. 4 banning hard alcohol consumption for all 66 of its member fraternities.
Lehigh’s Interfraternity Council banned hard alcohol among its member fraternities in January 2017. Considering recent hard alcohol policies implemented at other schools, Jacob Anderson, ‘19, the judicial chair of Lehigh IFC, said he saw the national ban coming.
“IFC is in strong support of this policy,” Anderson said. “It’s along the lines of what we’ve already been trying to do.”
Matt Tracy, ‘19, the president of IFC, said the national ban more specifically states that hard alcohol isn’t allowed in chapter houses, facilities or at events sponsored by fraternities. The only exception to the rule is when licensed outside vendors sell alcohol at events, such as a date parties, provided the chapters’ national policies allow that.
Anderson said the North-American Interfraternity Conference, NIC, has been looking at Greek culture as a whole to reevaluate best practices and determine the role that Greek life should play on college campuses.
That evaluation process involves NIC assessing the most integral parts of fraternities.
“At their core, fraternities are about brotherhood, personal development and providing a community of support,” Judson Horras, the president of NIC, said in a statement. “Alcohol abuse and its serious consequences endanger this very purpose.”
Tracy said the promotion of safe drinking culture is a widespread effort among fraternities, based on conversations he has had with members from other colleges and universities. He thinks fraternities at other schools will follow policies similar to Lehigh’s.
Many Greek-affiliated students have asked Tracy what this ban means for their specific chapters. He said the ban’s impact on individual chapters is still unclear and members need to wait for responses through their fraternities’ national offices.
Anderson said the memo establishes a baseline for hard alcohol use, but chapter-specific changes might be more strict. Now and within the next year, chapters will be in contact with their nationals for more information, he said.
Andrew Fedun, ‘21, said he supports the ban and thinks fraternity policies are headed in the right direction. However, he doesn’t think the ban will be effective at off-campus events and foresees issues if all members of fraternities don’t always follow the rules.
Campuses likely won’t see the impact of these changes until next year. The memo states that changes by individual fraternities on the national level don’t need to be implemented until Sept. 1, 2019.
In the meantime, IFC plans to focus on positive aspects of Greek life. Tracy said IFC wants to focus on more than just social issues now because the fraternities are in a better place than they were last year.
“We’re not really in crisis mode right now,” Tracy said.
Anderson said reshaping IFC’s image on campus will involve highlighting inclusivity of ideas and opinions, meaningful collaboration with other organizations on campus and community engagement with South Bethlehem and surrounding areas.