Frats To Ban Hard Liquor After Pledge Deaths

By Kelly Burch 09/07/18

Frats will have until September 1, 2019 to implement the new alcohol policy.

hands hold on to a red disposable cup at a party

The party scene on many college campuses could be changing, after a governing body that oversees more than 6,000 fraternities around the nation banned its members from serving hard alcohol beginning next fall. 

The North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) policy means that frats will only be allowed to serve hard liquor (over 15% alcohol) if they do so using a licensed third-party vendor. 

“At their core, fraternities are about brotherhood, personal development and providing a community of support. Alcohol abuse and its serious consequences endanger this very purpose,” Judson Horras, NIC president and CEO, said in a statement. “This action shows fraternities’ clear commitment and leadership to further their focus on the safety of members and all in our communities.”

The policy change received near-unanimous support, the statement said. Some campuses already have restrictions in place around hard alcohol and report that the policies led to positive change. 

“Our IFC and member fraternities eliminated hard alcohol from facilities and events on our campus several years ago and have seen a positive shift in our culture when it comes to the health and safety of our members and guests,” said Seth Gutwein, Purdue University IFC President. “With all NIC fraternities implementing this critical change, it will provide strong support for fraternities to move as one to make campus communities safer.”

The changes come after a series of high-profile deaths caused by alcohol consumption at frats around the country. One of the most well-known cases was the death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey, who died during a hazing ritual at Penn State in February of 2017. Since then, Piazza's parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, have been advocating for stricter laws against hazing. 

Tim's father, Jim Piazza, told USA Today the new alcohol policy is "a good start.” He added that he and other family members have been talking to the NIC, and "they've been listening to us."

"It should make a meaningful difference," Piazza said. "There are other reforms they need to put into place, and there's still work to do. But this is a beginning.”

Overall, Piazza said that a college culture that emphasizes drinking and partying is dangerous and needs to change. "Our aim is to make overall college life safer," he said. 

Frats will have until September 1, 2019 to implement the policy, which the NIC says is just one piece of an ongoing effort to make fraternity life safer and reduce hazing. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.