Saturday, October 16, 2010

Purdue Lifts Ban on Alcohol for Greeks

Greek, co-op alcohol ban ends
Campus groups vow to alter behavior

By Eric Weddle

Members of Purdue University's cooperative housing, fraternities and sororities voted
Wednesday night to lift a social moratorium on drinking. It was implemented seven days earlier.

The ban meant Purdue's Greeks and students living in co-ops could not drink at their facilities or functions, no matter the event's location.

As of noon today the drinking restriction will be lifted.

"I do think the moratorium was long enough," said Nick Kitchell, Interfraternity Council president, and Purdue senior. "We understand the moratorium was not the solution to the problem. The main issue that everyone wanted to focus on is making it safer on campus."

Leadership of the five governing councils, made up of Greek and co-op leaders, spent the past week developing short-term goals to strength regulations already in place.

"We want to make our policies stronger and our education programming better and more relevant. That is what we wanted to be focusing on," Kitchell said.

The new goals include uniform sanctions for violation of the hard alcohol policy. Only beer and wine coolers, under certain conditions, can be served at house functions to those 21 years old and older.

Offenders of this policy can now be fined up to $500. On a third offense, a house would be recommended for withdrawal of recognition from campus.

A "gentleman's agreement" and "woman's agreement" also are part of the plan. These agreements are to be signed by all the house presidents, stating reinforced accountability.

An alcohol educational program created with help from individuals from the medical field will be developed.

Kyle A. Pendleton, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life, said the eight-day moratorium on alcohol was enough for the leadership to reflect on the policies and make changes. The moratorium period included one home football game.

"The collective opinion of the administration at Purdue is one of pride, in what these students have taken on and decided as a community to address," he said.

"I am very proud of them. This has not been easy for them, to stand up and take a stance, but in the long run we will have a safer community."

Safety concerns

Kitchell and Purdue officials said the reason for the moratorium was a recent increase in alcohol-related incidents on campus.

Purdue Fire Department this semester had responded to 201 ambulance calls, with 25 directly related to alcohol intoxication. By this time last year, there were 166 ambulance calls, with 17 directly related to alcohol.

Two intoxicated patients were picked up since the moratorium was put in place, university spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said.

A week before the drinking moratorium was declared, the campus was shocked by the death of Julissa Murphy, a 19-year-old sophomore from Elkhart who was found Sept. 19 at Hillenbrand residence hall.

The moratorium was not directly related to the death, Pendleton has said.

Tippecanoe County Coroner Martin Avolt reported that Murphy stopped breathing after choking on her vomit. The coroner's office is waiting on toxicology results.

The lasting effects of the 81/2-day ban and the new rules are uncertain.

Sophomore Kelsey Green, who is not a member of a Greek organization, said she thought the moratorium was a good idea. By removing alcohol from the reach of younger students, the urge to drink before reaching legal age could be diminished.

"Once people hit 21, they usually stop going to frat parties ... so what you get is a bunch of freshman looking for beer," she said. Freshmen "kind of look up to the frats and the older students, so if they cut down on drinking, it could trickle down."

Kitchell said policies and behaviors will be monitored in the months ahead, and input from Purdue administrators will be taken.

"We will continually be getting feedback as we move along," he said. "We think this is the best (plan) for now, but in a month or two months, we may need to face changes again."

Purdue's fraternity and sorority network consists of 81 chapters organized into four separate councils. The Purdue Cooperative community is comprised of seven homes for women and five for men.

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