Washington State University Cancels Frat, Sorority Events Amid Alcohol, Drug Use Concerns

By Britni de la Cretaz 11/10/16

If the ban is violated, the fraternities and sororities stand to have their recognition on campus revoked.

Washington State University Cancels Frat, Sorority Events Canceled Amid Alcohol, Drug Use Concerns

The party is over for members of Greek life at Washington State University.

Members of the school’s Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, an umbrella organization for some sororities, sent a letter earlier this week stating that all fraternity and sorority events are banned for the rest of the semester, according to CBS News. The reason? According to the letter, alcohol and drug use, rapes, sexual assaults, and hospitalizations led to the decision to suspend Greek activity. Events are banned regardless of whether or not they include alcohol.

Multiple events led up to this decision. Last year, four students were injured in alcohol-related falls. In September, the Delta Upsilon fraternity’s national headquarters suspended the WSU chapter after an 18-year-old student alleged that she was sexually assaulted at a party hosted by the frat. And in October, a student was critically injured after falling from a second-floor balcony.

A 2009 study in the NASPA Journal found that “compared with other students, residents of fraternity houses experienced many more problems as a consequence of their drinking, and nonresident fraternity members had more problems than non-fraternity men.” The results were similar for sorority members. But this data isn’t new—as far back as 1995, studies were reporting that members of fraternities and sororities were far more likely to engage in binge drinking than their non-Greek peers.

The effect that the ban has on drinking and drug use at the fraternities and sororities remains to be seen. But research indicates that fraternity members may be less likely to respond to alcohol education than non-fraternity members, according to a study released earlier this year by the American Psychological Association.

“Current intervention methods appear to have limited effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among fraternity and possibly sorority members,” wrote Lori Scott-Sheldon, a Brown University psychologist and author of the report, in the press release. Those researchers felt that Greek involvement was actually a barrier to effective intervention.

The ban at WSU will not be in place for the spring semester, which begins in January, though the school hopes to have new policies in place by then. If any chapters violate the ban during this semester, the councils say their recognition on campus will be revoked.

In tweets from WSU President Kirk Schulz, he emphasized that the decision came from Greek student leadership, not the school administration. “This was decided by the WSU student leaders themselves - let's give them credit for taking a bold stand for student safety,” said Schulz.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.