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Iowa State raises the bar to make its students safer

In an effort to better represent safety and well-being among Iowa State University’s campus community, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement recently released a set of revised policies regarding Greek chapters holding events involving alcohol.

As part of an ongoing national discussion about safety within university Greek communities, particularly in light of the four students who lost their lives in 2017 as a result of excessive alcohol consumption or hazing at different universities across the country, ISU’s Director of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement Billy Boulden said in an email that the new policies are the result of nine months of work to better prioritize health and safety.

The new procedures and requirements focus heavily on regulating the use and serving of alcohol, and apply to any sorority or fraternity events that involve alcohol, whether held on campus or off. Under the new requirements, in order for an event involving alcohol to be approved and not violate university policy, alcohol may not be the focus of an event, pre-gaming is not allowed, chapter funding may not be used to purchase alcoholic beverages, minors may not be served and open parties with unrestricted access for non-members are not permitted.

Additionally, bulk or common sources of alcohol, like kegs and punch bowls, are prohibited, all recruitment, rush, initiation, and induction activities associated with a chapter must be non-alcoholic, drinking games and progressive drinking events — such as bar crawls — are not allowed and hazing remains a serious prohibited offense.

At all events involving alcohol, the sorority or fraternity hosting must have at least one sober member for every 15 people present, to be responsible for monitoring the safety and well-being of the attendees.

All Greek chapter social events should be registered and approved through the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement; those that fail to register events or host unapproved events will be prohibited from hosting future events and will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis.”

“Over the last nine months, our office has been working with the Office of Student Conduct and University Legal Services to develop social event registration procedures and expectations that align with the best practices identified nationwide,” Boulden said in an email. “This fall, the North American-Interfraternity Conference announced new health and safety standards in which all member organizations agreed to prioritizing health and safety among fraternity members. Our hope is that these revised procedures will create a safer environment for chapters, members, and guests.”

In order to register an event with alcohol, sororities and fraternities are required to file a completed registration form at least 20 calendar days prior to the scheduled event, along with an attached preliminary guest list. Guest lists are limited to no more than three guests per chapter member, as long as the number does not exceed 400 people or fire code, whichever is lower.

The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement will determine approval or denial for the events.

At all approved events involving alcohol, either a sober chapter member or hired security agent must ensure that every guest in attendance does not already appear to be under the influence of alcohol, is on a finalized guest list and has a valid ID that verifies birth date.

According to new policies and procedures documents, violations will be referred to appropriate university offices and fraternal governing councils, including administrators in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement, the Collegiate Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council and the Interfraternity Council.

Resulting sanctions can include denial of event requests, loss of event or social privileges for a designated period of time, restrictions on the presence of alcohol at events for a designated period of time and educational requirements.

“Our community can reach our full potential only when each chapter is the best version of themselves and helps other chapters to do the same,” Boulden said in an email.

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By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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