New measures taken by the College and fraternities to reduce alcohol-related incidents, including an earlier start time for fraternity parties, were enacted for the first three weekends of the semester. The administration and fraternities plan to continue many of these practices, in addition to adopting others, due to the decrease in alcohol-related hospital incidents.
The College, working closely with the fraternities and the Department of Public Safety, put in place a number of new measures designed to reduce high-risk alcohol consumption at F&M. The most visible of these changes is a new start time for fraternity parties: 10 p.m. (it was 9 p.m. during the first week of the semester) instead of the 11 p.m. start time, which has been the standard for years.
“The 9 p.m. start time was probably a little too early to be realistic,” said Steven O’Day, senior associate dean of the College. “We [The Office of the Dean of the College and the Interfraternity Council] discussed it, and landed on a 10 p.m. target start time for those approved social events.”
O’Day mentioned other measures, including having Public Safety inspect the fraternity houses prior to the parties to ensure they are prepared to host a safe party and making sure the fraternities are supplied with adequate food and non-alcoholic beverages. Fraternities are now required to have four cases of water on-hand during parties, and the College has had pizzas delivered in the last two weeks during the first half-hour of the parties to encourage students to come earlier instead of later.
According to O’Day, these practices have had overwhelmingly positive effects on campus. So far this year, significantly fewer F&M students have been hospitalized due to alcohol. Last year, a dozen students were taken to the hospital in the first weekend alone. The College and fraternities are particularly satisfied there were no alcohol-related incidents among first-year students, the most at-risk group on campus with regard to alcohol, during the first weekend.
“Well, I’d like to let the numbers speak for themselves,” said Joseph Strawitz ’13, Interfraternity Council President. “The first weekend last year, we had over a dozen hospital visits, from what I’ve been told. The first two weeks this year, we’ve had zero. Zero freshman incidents. Zero at F&M.”
While their progress is being evaluated on a weekly basis, according to O’Day, the College and fraternities are planning on continuing with the 10 p.m. start time, pizza delivery, and Public Safety inspections for the time being in the hopes the parties will remain as safe as they have been for the past few weekends. The pizza deliveries are not permanent, however, due to the financial strain that comes with them.
“If you get food for every party and drinks, that’s a lot of budgetary reallocation for every house,” Strawitz said.
The College’s Greek organizations have been very supportive of the changes and were integral in carrying them out according to both O’Day and Strawitz. The fraternities have been working hard to make sure the parties are safe and students are being responsible. For example, many of their invitations now warn students, “Do not pre-game! If you appear intoxicated you will be turned away.”
In the coming weeks, the College and fraternities are determined to continue their work in keeping the campus free of alcohol-related incidents. While these new initiatives have had positive results, O’Day believes the most effective tool the College and fraternities have is attentiveness against the dangers of alcohol consumption.
“What we try to do is maintain our vigilance,” O’Day said. “Is there some new problem that’s out there? No. But that doesn’t mean we let our guard down.”
Questions? Email Steven at email@example.com.