Limited alcohol for greek life under pilot program

FILE+-+In+this%2C+Saturday%2C+September+3%2C+2016+file+photo%2C+groups+of+Iowa+fans+cheer+as+a+man+does+a+keg+stand+before+the+first+home+game+of+the+season+2016+season.+Greek+leaders+at+the+University+of+Iowa+have+issued+a+ban+on+events+with+alcohol+in+the+greek+community.+%28Jordan+Gale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%2C+file%29

FILE – In this, Saturday, September 3, 2016 file photo, groups of Iowa fans cheer as a man does a keg stand before the first home game of the season 2016 season. Greek leaders at the University of Iowa have issued a ban on events with alcohol in the greek community. (Jordan Gale/The Daily Iowan, file)

While the alcohol ban on University of Iowa fraternity and sorority events remains in effect, a pilot program running this semester will allow eligible chapters to host a single event in which alcohol can be present under specific guidelines.

The Fraternity and Sorority Life Harm Reduction Work Group extended a pilot program initially tested at the end of the fall semester to spring semester.

According to a document outlining the program that was shared with The Daily Iowan, from Feb. 1 to March 1, chapters that have been in compliance with the alcohol ban may submit a request for a date party or formal.

Chapters that were not eligible to participate in the fall semester pilot may become eligible to participate this semester if they maintain compliance with the ban through March 1.

Currently, there are 23 chapters eligible of the 36 Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council chapters.

“This is to reduce a lot of the high-risk alcohol consumption that really has created an unsafe environment across the campus,” Interfraternity Council President Jason Pierce-Vazquez said.

RELATED: UI greek community to test new pilot program for alcohol at events

The UI announced the alcohol ban last year after UI freshman Kamil Jackowski was found dead at a fraternity formal in Missouri in April 2017, and other incidents. A ban was also placed on all out-of-town formals.

“The lifting of the [alcohol ban] will depend on an overall assessment of the community’s readiness to abide by policies and productively engage in culture change,” Erin McHale, the assistant director of fraternity & sorority life programs, said in an email to the DI.

Pierce-Vazquez said high-risk alcohol consumption is a university-wide issue.

According to 2017 National College Health Assessment survey data, high-risk drinking among UI students is at its lowest in 25 years, but students still experience more negative consequences from alcohol use compared with campuses nationwide.

The survey revealed that since 2012, high-risk drinking — defined as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion in the last two weeks — has fallen from 64.1 percent to 50.5 percent and that the number of students experiencing negative consequences from drinking has dropped from 58.3 percent to 56.6 percent.

RELATED: Survey reveals decline in high-risk alcohol use among UI students

“It’s easier to pin an issue like drinking or alcoholism on fraternity and sorority life because we’re already highly scrutinized as is,” Pierce-Vazquez said. “But the thing is, it’s happening across the university in all different groups, which is why it’s not just [fraternities and sororities that need to make] these changes, it has to be all the University of Iowa.”

The pilot program’s guidelines include restricting alcoholic beverages to beer, wine, and hard cider and purchasing a maximum of five drinks over a period of three hours.

Each legal-age attendee will have a wristband with five removable tabs that may be used to purchase drinks. Each time an alcoholic beverage is purchased, the bartender will remove one of the tabs. The wristbands will be distributed based on the guest list, cross-checked with picture IDs.

During the event, the UI police will have security officers conducting unannounced walk-throughs to ensure chapters are in compliance with the requirements.

“If the officers witness an immediate or potential safety risks, they will intervene,” UI police security supervisor Beau Hartsock said in an email to the DI. “They will also provide verbal warnings for noncompliance, such as an underage individual who is consuming alcohol or a person who appears to be intoxicated being allowed to enter the event.”

Because the pilot program is ongoing, discussions on the alcohol ban will continue.

“We want to have a solidified plan that outlines what they are allowed to do, what venues they’re allowed to use,” Pierce-Vazquez said. “Basically, a step-by-step guideline that allows for fraternity and sorority life to move forward but address the fact that the old system did not work for us.”

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