A silent uproar has quickly spread among Greek students in response to recent alterations to fraternity house party policies.
Fraternities are particularly disgruntled by a new alcohol regulation instituted by the Dean of Students Office that limits partygoers from the previous six-beer maximum to a four-beer maximum.
According to the policy, people wishing to consume alcohol at a fraternity house party must bring their own beer and can only consume four 12-ounce beers over a four-hour period, the time limit set for an event.
Additionally, the policy requires guests to check in their alcohol after entering a party, in exchange for a ticket for each beverage that goes in.
The ticket is necessary to claim a beverage, and only one drink can be consumed at a time.
“Since national standards suggest that having more than one drink an hour would be considered binge drinking, we agreed with alcohol educators that the regulation should be changed and lowered to four beers,” said Tony Lake, associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs.
Lake refers to the standard set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The centers’ standard defines binge drinking as four or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and five or more drinks during a single occasion for men.
Though the shift from the six to four-beer maximum is minimal, fraternity members are concerned with the repercussions a chapter may face in the case of a violation, especially if it is accidental.
Along with the new alcohol policy, fraternities now risk permanent expulsion from the university for any violation that previously would have only led to temporary suspension.
“If you are in a fraternity that does everything right, but you have a minor problem, you get in a lot of trouble for something that is not entirely your fault,” said Doug Aguililla, risk manager of Lambda Chi Alpha. “It makes it so fraternities don’t want to throw parties because they feel that there’s just too much of a risk in it … It has gotten to the point where it’s almost more of a benefit not to be in a fraternity because you don’t have to deal with that liability.”
The slew of disappointment and fear also originates from a series of unexpected fire-code inspections that occurred over the summer and cost some fraternity chapters up to $70,000.
“The City of Coral Gables fire marshal has the authority to institute a check on fire-code regulations literally at a moment’s notice,” Lake said. “In the past, the fire marshal has just shown up and asked for a tour of the house. Recognizing that it is not a very effective way to schedule a time with students, this year the fire marshal contacted us early in the week and said that they would like to know when they could schedule a visit.”
Because fraternity members were not living in the houses during the summer, however, they were not notified of the inspections and were given little time to respond to required updates.
Fraternity advisors and their housing incorporation staff are responsible for reviewing fire marshal code, updating the houses and making necessary improvements, Lake said. The university acts as a liaison between the houses and the City of Coral Gables and can implement rules, but the properties are ultimately private and not owned by the university.
“There were varying degrees of issues that the fire marshal addressed, some more serious than others, but none of the houses were giving a failing mark on the inspection,” Lake said. “All were given time to make changes.”