Fraternity bans booze from house
By Donna MacMullin
Frat parties are getting a little dry these days.
At least that is the consensus among men at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity in London and all its chapters across Canada and the United States due to a recent decision to have the fraternity houses completely alcohol free.
Delegates at the general headquarters in Ohio have decided to impose a ban on alcohol consumption in all Phi Delta's residences by the year 2000. "They thought it would be best," Rob Kenedi, president of the Toronto chapter, said.
Kenedi said in recent years the fraternity has run into a lot of problems stemming from the consumption of alcohol. "We've been established since 1848 and in the past 50 years the fraternity has been associated with alcohol and parties although that isn't our main focus or why people should choose to join.
"That's not how we got started and so now we want to focus on getting back to our roots."
Adam Dean, president of Western's Interfraternity Council said he has never heard of such a ban in Canadian fraternities. "It's not really realistic to say there can never be alcohol in fraternity houses," he said, adding there are many events such as wine and cheese parties where alcohol is appropriate.
However, Dean said the ban is probably an excellent first step in attempting to break down the stereotypes of fraternities being equated with drinking. "When we do have parties there is alcohol and we do go to bars and drink," he said. "But we are not drinking clubs.
"It is very important to stress the amount of work that is done for the London community speaks volumes and supersedes the fact that we have a drink," Dean added. "It's just hard not to have alcohol sometimes. It comes with the package especially when there is a champaign toast at events.
"I wouldn't ever say you could never drink at a fraternity event."
Chris Campbell, social and external representative for the Phi Delta Theta chapter in London said the rationale behind the alcohol ban also has a lot to do with the rising insurance costs fraternities have had to deal with in recent years. "We pay a premium for our members and the cost has been rising because there is alcohol in the house," he said. "So financially this is a smart move."
Campbell said the alcohol ban is largely part of a trend for fraternities due to safety and liability problems and general concern for the upkeep of the house. "We live a block away from the major bars in London so there is no excuse not to go there," he said. "The house is just a mess when we have a lot of people over."
The ban is not official at any Canadian chapters yet, but Campbell said it will be phased in gradually. "It will take awhile," he said. "Realistically when you have 10 guys living in a house there is beer around but you can also take it elsewhere."
The ban is also expected to alleviate concerns with rush events where an increasing number of underage students are participating. "[A dry rush] takes away from the intimidation of joining a frat if you are a first-year undergraduate and intimidated by the expectation of alcohol being involved," Campbell said.
He added there has been a relatively positive reaction to the restriction from the members of the fraternity, despite the odd exception. "But we're pretty creative guys, we can have events outside the house."