The number of alcohol-related deaths and injuries at fraternity parties over the last decade has attracted national attention to bad practices that have long dominated this aspect of campus life. Though not as publicized as incidents elsewhere, the 2013 death of a Baruch University freshman showed New Yorkers just how dangerous these practices could be.
Now, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) is seeking to address the past practices that have contributed to these deaths and injuries by requiring member fraternities to handle alcohol distribution at parties in a safe manner. Recognizing that customs such as requiring a pledge to drink an entire bottle of hard alcohol in a night all but guarantees significant injuries, the NIC is mandating change.
The policy, which has gone into effect for the 2018-2019 school year, disallows hard alcohol at fraternity events unless a licensed third-party vendor takes responsibility for distribution. Beer and other beverages below 15 percent alcohol-by-volume are still allowed. The prevalence of hard alcohol has been associated with most of the accidents that have taken place at fraternity mixers and other similar events.
This is a welcome change and a powerful step forward for institutions that have long been associated with over-serving. Though the use of third-party vendors does not directly address a toxic culture of peer pressure, the presence of outsiders should decrease the risk of over-drinking, and should also provide a disinterested party to monitor when things are getting out of hand.
If your child has suffered due to bad practices and toxic cultures at school or in campus life, recognize that holding these institutions accountable is the only way to bring change. Please, consult with an experienced attorney about your case and be the first step in forcing organizations to take responsibility for their actions.