Why Would Frat Boys Follow a New Ban on Hard Liquor?

Frats already break the law by serving alcohol to underage students. Why would a ban on hard liquor be any different?


Flickr/speedywithchicken/Creative Commons

Beer and wine are fine, but the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) is a stickler when it comes to liquor. That's the major takeaway from the umbrella organization's new hard alcohol policy, which the group announced yesterday.

Fraternities have been under fire following alcohol-related hazing deaths at LSU and Penn State. In response, the NIC, which represents most national fraternities in the U.S. and Canda, voted to adopt "a Standard prohibiting hard alcohol from fraternity chapter facilities and events."

The policy, which received "near unanimous support," must be implemented by the start of September 2019, according to the NIC. It will affect more than 6,100 frat chapters across roughly 800 college campuses.

The new rule doesn't completely ban hard liquor from frat events. Member fraternities can't themselves serve drinks whose alcohol volume is greater than 15 percent, but a "licensed third-party vendor" can.

The NIC is addressing a real problem, but this solution makes little sense.

Binge drinking has indeed become engrained into frat culture. This has enabled not just hazing but probably an increase in sexual assaults too, as Reason's Robby Soave has noted.

But frats don't have a great record when it comes to following the rules in the first place. With the LSU and Penn State deaths, both deceased students were underage. Fraternities are already breaking the law by serving alcohol to underage students (which at most schools means most undergrads). Why would they listen to a new rule, one that the legal authorities can't even enforce?

The NIC is a private organization, and it can experiment as it sees fit with rules like this. By joining national fraternities, students are agreeing to follow whatever policies those frats decide to implement. But that agreement doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to underage drinking, which is prohibited by the NIC in addition to being against the law. Why would this rule be any different?

So if banning hard liquor won't work, what will? Lowering the drinking age could help. College students are still going to drink, but letting them do so legally at home or at a bar means they're less likely to seek out wild frat parties. As Soave argued in 2015: "If lawmakers want kids to drink responsibly, they need to legislate responsibly."

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  1. If frat boys can’t get black-out drunk, how will they forget the terrible things they did and had done to them?

    1. How do you handle it with those young teenage boys you sodomize?

      1. Your posts sound funnier in Chris Hansen’s voice. Ask me to take a seat over there.

  2. Isn’t this Robbie’s beat?

    1. He’s referenced in the piece.

    2. To be sure, a university culture story not written by Robbie is unusual…

  3. Compulsion to drink hard liquor despite negative consequences is actually an early sign of alcoholism. It’s good to be able to detect this problem and get these kids into treatment before it spirals out of control. A ban on hard liquor may be just what the doctor ordered.

    1. Wait, I’m confused. I thought you were the guy who said all addiction is a myth. How can people be alcoholics, then?

      Or have I misunderstood your thesis?

    2. Nonsense. Lots of college kids haven’t developed a taste for skank beer, so they head for the mixed drinks or do a few shots to get their buzz on quickly.

  4. Hard liquor enema has a different effect than a beer enema.

    1. Burns more, I’d imagine.

  5. PHY 121. A guy who sat next to me said he was in a fraternity. I called it a “frat” and he says to me “Do you call your country a cunt?” I said “No.” He said “So why do you call a fraternity a frat?” I didn’t have a good answer.

    1. “Because I actually call a fraternity a cunt.”

      1. golf clap for Tony

      2. Tony is bitter because he’s too dumb for college. So no frat boy man meat for him.

    2. Huh. I actually had buddy who used that same line.

      I usually took a more delicate approach. When recruiting, I’d explain that we preferred the word “fraternity” and detail the reasons why. When talking to a female student, I’d just bottle up my annoyance and move on. I already got accused of mansplaining enough times per day.

      1. >>>When recruiting, I’d explain …

        we did more of a “never let anyone hear you say frat under penalty of torture” thing

    3. That’s a dumb question. Did he go around asking the same of people named Matthew who call themselves “Matt”?

      1. What about people named Matthew who don’t appreciate being called Matt?

    4. Wouldn’t the equivalent be “count”?

  6. >>>Why would they listen to a new rule, one that the legal authorities can’t even enforce?

    Double-secret probation.

    1. I am a responsible individual therefore I do not support DUI laws!

  7. Welp, guess they’ll all have to go to sororities to drink.

    … and fuck you Reason for your blatant hackneyed cultural politics.

  8. We need to go back to an 18 year old drinking (and gun buying age). I think having second class citizens due to age is a silly idea.

    1. I think having second class citizens due to age is a silly idea.

      This sounds like something someone with the mental abilities of an 11-yr.-old would say.

      1. Like Chemjeff or Tony?

        1. You seem a little obsessed.

    2. There never has been a drinking age in Europe. I’ve never understood why we think we need one.

      1. That’s not quite true. I think most countries in Europe have some drinking age at this point. But I’ve never heard of one being actually enforced.

        1. They’ll card you to buy liquor in a store, not so much in a bar.

    3. It should be 19 so they are out of high school and you don’t have legal drinkers around 14 year olds.

  9. They would follow a hard liquor ban like a murderer would follow a gun ban – – – – – – – – – – – –

  10. Could work out nicely for the guys.

    I imagine the following exchange between a fraternity guy and a female guest at a party where they are only allowed to serve beer.

    She. ” yuck I can’t stand beer”

    He “I have a bottle of vodka up in my room. Are you interested?”

    She “Sure. Let’s go”

    1. Go on…

  11. The real answer to this question: the ban isn’t about getting frat boys to stop serving hard liquor at parties, though it might be smart if they stopped serving it.

    The ban is about giving the fraternity a reason to disclaim insurance coverage when someone dies. Social fraternities are generally uninsurable by third-party insurers, so the national fraternity instead sponsors what amounts to a huge self-insurance pool that each local chapter buys into. But a local chapter’s failure to follow national fraternity rules (here, every national fraternity would have adopted the new NIC rules) to a T gives the self-insurance pool a reason to deny coverage.

    So when some 18-year-old kid dies during pledging after taking a zillion shots, and the parents sue the fraternity, they find they can’t recover anything–the local fraternity chapter didn’t follow the rules, and failure to follow the rules means the fraternity’s self-insurance pool won’t cover the loss. Instead, the only hope of recovery comes from suing individual fraternity members, which presents its own list of challenges. (It’s also why, if you have a son in a fraternity, it’s probably a very good idea to up the limits on your homeowner’s policy.)

    1. Instead, the only hope of recovery comes from suing individual fraternity members, which presents its own list of challenges.

      Frankly, I am surprised that a grieving parent hasn’t tried to sue Bacardi, Jim Beam, or another booze company for “promoting a culture of underage drinking.” They are the ones who have the deepest pockets.

    2. This. This is all about liability, and insurance coverage.

      And to the column’s author, your headline is presumptuous and you know it. The NIC and its officers and its lawyers and all the rest of its mealy-mouthed cronies share absolutely no interest with what the rank-and-file Greek member wants. Vast numbers of fraternity and sorority members would be a lot happier if the national organizations would just leave them the fuck alone.

      1. Yeah, kinda of an awful anti-male hitpiece.

        The rule is simply about making sure that liability is transferred to the third party bartender. This is nothing new, had been required in most houses for years.

        Methinks the author had an axe to grind.

  12. So my university didn’t have fraternities or sororities. They existed, but they were “private” in the sense that they were not funded by the university or student dues. Which made them rare. Students who wanted to get piss drunk on a regular basis had to go to the next college over and try to get into a frat there.

    As a result, we actually had a pub on campus. That actually sold alcohol. And we didn’t have any on-campus drinking problem. Yeah, students still got piss drunk, but they did it in their apartment off campus.

    Heading over to the other college on the other side of town, however, was a different story. Drunkard city. Frat row nuts on Fridays and Saturdays.

    So yeah, getting rid of the frat culture of drunkeness should be every university’s goal. They can’t control what adult students do off campus, but they can stop funding and endorsing frat culture.

    1. I think you have some strange ideas about normal Greek-letter fraternity/sorority funding. I’ve never heard of one funded by a university or general student body dues. They are sometimes provided space on campus, but they are private organizations. Chapters always have individual membership dues.

    2. What school provides student fees to support frats?

      1. Some provide a small portion of the activity fee, just like to a newspaper or drama club.
        On the flip side, some pay frats to clean the stadium after football games etc.

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