The North American Interfraternity Conference adopted a standard that would ban hard alcohol from all fraternities in the United States as of Sept. 1, following a similar motion made by the University of Kansas Interfraternity Council in the spring of 2015 banning hard alcohol from all houses.
The ban, which went into effect in the fall of 2015, prohibits any beverage with 15% or higher alcohol content-level from fraternity houses. It was created in order to target alcohol abuse, cultural competency and sexual violence, according to a previous article for the Kansan.
Since then, two fraternities have been cited for alcohol or drug related violations, according to the University's conduct office: Delta Upsilon was put on probation in 2017, and Pi Kappa Alpha was removed from campus in earlier this semester.
While alcohol above 15% is prohibited in all KU IFC fraternities, some chapters on campus have voted to become completely dry fraternities.
“I think that in years past, there was a concern that hard alcohol posed many issues, and [the ban] just takes that out of the equation,” said Aaron Racine, executive director of the Kansas Fraternity Landlords’ League. “If they’re going to do something like that, they need to do it outside of the house.”
The Kansan reached out to Amy Long-Schell, the director of sorority and fraternity life at the University, but she did not respond to request for comment by time of print.
In 2017, the national Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter voted at the grand chapter conclave to adopt a substance-free chapter. In spring 2018, the KU Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter established themselves as a completely substance-free chapter as a disciplinary action following probation which started in the fall of 2017 and continued until March 2019.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is just buy-in from the general member,” said Keaton Dornath, chapter president of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Transitioning from a damp to dry chapter has been more difficult for the existing members than for the latest freshman class, Dornath said, because they’re used to an environment with alcohol.
The freshmen were recruited with the idea of being in a substance-free environment, while older members have grown accustomed to a damp chapter.
“We’ve had some slip-ups, which we’ve handled internally, and we’ve made sure there have been consequences because we like to practice accountability in order to ensure that what you do is a reflection of who you are,” Dornath said.
Dornath said he has noticed a change in culture in his chapter since the policy overhaul, through academic performance and building maintenance.
“The maintenance of our chapter has been a lot nicer, you don’t see a lot of things that are broke or damaged or sticky,” Dornath said.
Dornath hopes the recommendation from the NIC and the motion from KU IFC will push more chapters on campus to explore a substance-free environment in order to accurately represent Greek life nationally.
He and Racine said they believe banning hard alcohol from chapters in 2015 put the University steps ahead from chapters at other universities.
“In a way, this is the national organization catching up with something that KU has done on its own,” Racine said. “Really, this recommendation from NIC doesn’t have any impact on KU because it’s already what they’ve been doing for four years now.”