Administration tackles greek alcohol issues

By Matt Gilbert

NIU’s administration is tackling alleged alcohol abuse within the greek community through a recently formed task force.

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, has announced the objectives and first meeting of the University Task Force on Alcoholic Beverages and Hazing.

Henley will not sit on the task force. Instead, the task force will report its findings to her and NIU President John La Tourette.

Henley listed the four objectives of the task force as follows:

‘To review university alcoholic beverage policies as they apply to fraternities and sororities and to provide recommendations when or where appropriate.

‘To review mechanisms and structures for the effective enforcement of such policies and to provide recommendations where or when appropriate.

‘To review educational interventions concerning alcohol abuse and to provide recommendations when or where appropriate.

‘To review the university definition of hazing and to provide recommendations regarding clarification if needed.

We reviewed a report this summer that talked about alcohol abuse in general,” Henley said. “That report revealed a higher percentage of alcohol abuse by fraternity members living in greek housing compared to college students in general. NIU has similar data for our students.”

Henley stressed the mission of the task force is not punitive. “The task force will be looking at these issues because we are concerned about the health, safety and welfare of our students,” she said.

Henley conceded another concern is lawsuits against fraternities and the university. “That concern is always there,” she said. “We hope we can do something proactive to protect our organizations from lawsuits.”

The task force was created after Inter-Fraternity Council voted not to incorporate the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group’s (FIPG) risk management policies into its internal policies.

The FIPG policies are stricter than current IFC policies, banning the use of kegs and bulk alcohol containers and the use of chapter funds for the purchase of alcohol. It also prohibits alcohol at pledge activities, open parties and “drinking games.”

FIPG hazing policies are more specific than the Student Judicial Code definition. FIPG forbids forced use of alcohol, treasure or scavenger hunts, road trips, public apparel not normally in good taste, public stunts and buffoonery, humiliating games and “any other activity not consistent with fraternal law, ritual, or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution.”

In a previous Northern Star interview, University Programming and Activities Director Michelle Emmett, who will sit on the task force, said one reason the FIPG policies were created was because fraternities are becoming easy targets for lawsuits.

The task force presently has 10 members with one more to be named. Two faculty members, five students and three representatives from Student Affairs make up the task force. It will be chaired by Gary Gresholdt, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

Student organizations represented on the task force will include Panhellenic Council, IFC, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (formerly known as the Black Greek Council), Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol (GAMMA) and the Student Association (SA).

The task force will have its first meeting at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 in room 303 of the Holmes Student Center.