By Delaney McPherson
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
Texas State University banned all Greek life on Nov. 14 following the death a day earlier of a pledge in Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Florida State University issued a similar ban the week before after they too had a student die at a fraternity party. The trend seems clear: Greek life around the country has been increasingly scrutinized as more incidents such as this have come to light.
South Carolina has also experienced similar tragedies with the death of Clemson student Tucker Hipps in September 2014 and USC student Charlie Terreni in March 2015. While USC has not banned Greek life altogether, many fraternities have been removed from campus, and Greek life has imposed sanctions on the Greek community in order to encourage safe alcohol practices.
Mary Wilbur, the social and risk management chair of Chi Omega sorority, has been in charge of following alcohol regulations for all of her sorority’s social events for the past year. According to Wilbur, before an event she has to collect all the contracts involved with the event, including the security, bartender and venue.
Then she has to fill out a five-page form detailing the specifics of the event, the food that will be served and personal information for people known as "sober monitors," who make sure no one under the legal drinking age of 21 imbibes alcohol. While these seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, Wilbur doesn’t think it’s all that different from the practices Chi Omega already used.
“We had to have a different number of sober monitors, but we had to have sober monitors; we had to have food, we had to have water, all that stuff,” Wilbur said. “So, for us it’s kind of now just a formality to fill it all out and turn it into the university.”
Wilbur believes that the guidelines have more of an impact on the fraternities, who previously could have more “unofficial” events that weren’t registered with the university. Now everything from mixers to tailgates has to be approved by the university at least 10 days in advance.
Sebastian Estrada is the current secretary of Kappa Sigma fraternity, and he is in the running for president in the upcoming year. Estrada believes that the new policies are effectively curbing the issue of alcohol-related incidents.
“I think with the school being a lot more involved, people are taking the events in a more responsible manner," Estrada said. "People aren’t getting as drunk; people are kind of watching out for what they’re doing,”
Both Chi Omega and Kappa Sigma also have their own policies to ensure alcohol safety within their chapter. Chi Omega has risk management training twice a year and also does special presentations before events such as game day and mountain weekend to ensure its members understand how to be safe in those environments. Kappa Sigma recently brought in a doctor and a lawyer to explain to the fraternity the risks and consequences that come along with drinking.
The Greek life bans at FSU and TSU are recent decisions, so it isn’t clear whether they will have a positive or negative effect or if they are even permanent. However, Estrada believes this policy will only create more dangerous situations.
“Everything is going to go underground, so it’s not going to be regulated at all. It’ll just be free rein for hazing and everything else because there’s no regulations,” Estrada said. “Schools don’t understand that once they kick a fraternity off they’re still going to have everything, just with no regulations, underground. There’s no rules now.”