Elsewhere, effects of removing frats unclear

by Heather Kofke-Egger | 11/22/99 6:00am

While administrators at colleges that have changed or eliminated their Greek systems say such changes have resulted in lower risk and well-monitored alcohol consumption, some students claim the changes have simply moved alcohol use into the dorms and off-campus.

Administrators at three schools that have eliminated or modified their Greek systems on campus said that attitudes and awareness surrounding alcohol consumption have improved since new policies were instituted. However, many students and some administrators acknowledged that high-risk drinking and alcohol abuse were problematic at their schools.

"There's a great concern that the more you restrict drinking on campus, the more students are inclined to drink off campus and into unregulated spaces, but I don't believe this is the case," said Steve Collins, a spokesman for Colby College.

Since Hamilton College eliminated its fraternity and sorority houses on campus in 1995, students' patterns of alcohol consumption have not changed that much according to Director of Student Activities Beverly Low.

The former system has been replaced by five student controlled social spaces which students must be trained and sign a form to use.

The form, which is an agreement that the host of the part will take responsibility for the guests, holds students accountable for their drinking, Low said.

Although the spaces are open for any student who wishes to host a social event with or without alcohol, most of the parties remain the domain of the fraternities and sororities, Low said. She said most organizations have responded positively to the new system.

"They have more control over the parties now than they did five years ago because they've put their name of a form that says they are responsible for the actions of their guests," Low said.

However, the social space is not fully utilized at Hamilton, and the limited social options encourage unsafe alcohol use, Benjamin Zoll '01 told The Dartmouth last year.

"There's a lot more drinking -- closet drinking," he said. "Students are drinking in their rooms because there is nowhere for them to go and drink socially."

Although students are increasingly accepting of the new system at Hamilton, local residents have complained about the increase in drunk driving and public drunkenness since the loss of the fraternity system, according to Phil Allogramento '00.

Similar circumstances exist at Colby, which eliminated its Greek system in the early 1980s.

The Colby campus now operates with a commons system. Each of five residential commons have their own governance and social space. All parties must be registered and catered by college caterers who are required to check IDs.

Collins says he thinks the changes in the social system have helped to change attitudes around alcohol somewhat, but problems still persist.

"I think it's had an effect. Has it been as big an effect as we would like? No, absolutely not," Collins said.

However, he said he feels awareness around alcohol as been raised through the college's alcohol education program.

"There are clear signs that students have choices and that most students make responsible choices," Collins said.

But at Colby, this has not always been the case, and not every administrator agrees.

"Absolutely, drinking is still a problem" on campus. Alden Kent, Colby's alcohol counselor told the Colby Echo, the college's weekly newspaper.

In 1990, an intoxicated student, who was hosting a party with alcohol in college social space, fell from a window of the student center and broke his back.

At Amherst College, where fraternities were banned in 1984, drinking still remains a problem.

After pushing the fraternities into the dormitories at Amherst, the college began sponsoring campus-wide keg parties, called "TAPs" on Thursday and Saturday nights in the basements of the abandoned houses, according to Elizabeth Royles '99, the former Editor-in-Chief of the Amherst Student told The Dartmouth in an interview last winter.

The college recently convened a committee to look at alcohol use and abuse -- both among the general student body and in the underground fraternity system that still exists there.

The committee issued a report earlier this month regarding drinking activity on campus that outlines many different problem areas including beer pong, dorm parties and problems with the student monitor system set up for college-sponsored keg parties, according to an article in The Amherst Student.

However, Amherst's Director of Health Education Denise McGoldrick wants to show students that alcohol consumption on campus usually occurs at a moderate rate. She has started a social norms campaign similar to Dartmouth's to distribute statistics to students.

Lieber told the Student that he wasn't sure if the fraternities could be linked to alcohol abuse on campus.

"I don't think there have been any direct studies that the underground frats do more drinking than the rest of the campus. It's an unknown," Dean of Students Ben Lieber told The Student.