Purdue University fraternities finding success with hard alcohol ban

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Back in 2010, students at Purdue University decided to ban hard alcohol at all fraternity events. Campus police have noticed the number of arrests go down since then. Now, hundreds of campuses across the country will implement the same standard.

The association for fraternities in the U.S. and Canada says most of its members have one year to ban hard alcohol under a rule adopted during its recent annual meeting.

The North American Interfraternity Conference, or NIC, said Tuesday that in “a near-unanimous vote” on Aug. 27, its 66 international and national men’s fraternities adopted the rule prohibiting hard alcohol from fraternity chapters and events unless served by licensed third-party vendors. The member fraternities have until Sept. 1, 2019 to implement the rule across their more than 6,100 chapters on 800 campuses.

The rule adoption follows the alcohol-related deaths last year of fraternity pledges at Louisiana State University and Penn State University.

Purdue University IFC President Seth Gutwein applauded the national group for taking this step. He said they have seen a positive shift in his campus' culture.

"With all NIC fraternities implementing this critical change, it will provide strong support for fraternities to move as one to make campus communities safer," he said.

Gutwein said there is a group of Greek members who go to each fraternity function to check if there is hard alcohol. He says the group stops by twice and the visits are unannounced.

"We haven’t had many problems with it. Of course, there are some organizations who still toe the line with that," Gutwein said.

Fraternities at Purdue University could face social probation if they do not follow this standard. Gutwein said it has happened to some.

"We try to do it so it doesn’t reoccur again," he said.

Purdue University Associate Dean of Students Brandon Cutler said not many schools a few years ago passed a ban on hard alcohol at all fraternity events. He's noticed students are more aware of health and safety issues.

"Hard alcohol ban is a tremendous step for the industry and clearly stating that we do not want substances that harm young people," he said.

NIC said this ban is a minimum expectation. When member fraternities and campuses have more restrictive policies, students and chapters will still be expected to follow those.