A new mandate will force fraternities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to trade in handles of vodka for cans of beer at their fall 2019 parties.
UNL’s Interfraternity Council approved a ban of hard alcohol, or any beverage above 15% alcohol by volume, at all fraternity events effective Aug. 1, 2019.
Nebraska Interfraternity Council president Justin Henry said the ban will apply to fraternity houses and any events on or off campus. The only exception will be hard alcohol sales through licensed third-party vendors.
Henry said he thinks the ban will be helpful in preventing dangerous drinking incidents.
“Of the alcohol-related incidents requiring hospital visits, 90% — maybe more — involve hard alcohol,” he said.
The ban originated from an initiative at the North American Interfraternal Conference, according to Henry. The conference oversees many UNL fraternities, but he said those that aren’t involved still agreed to adopt the same stipulations.
Similar bans are happening at universities across the country, including many in the Big 10, and the NIC’s ban will affect its chapters across the country, according to Linda Schwartzkopf, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“It’s been a wave across the entire country,” she said. “There’s an urgency that change needs to happen.”
Schwartzkopf said statistics don’t indicate there is a current problem with alcohol consumption at UNL, as alcohol citations have actually decreased from last year.
Coordinator of Fraternity Life Jon Gayer said the ban isn’t in response to a certain event at UNL, but is more for support after a series of recent deaths related to hard alcohol at universities like Pennsylvania State University and Louisiana State University.
“Basically the idea that we’re all in this together, that was kind of the motivating factor,” he said. “It’s more the culture that’s kind of shifting in the national organizations.”
Schwartzkopf also said while the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life is supportive of the IFC’s decision, it was a student-led initiative through the IFC.
Strategies for enforcing the ban are in development, Henry said. Fraternities that the NIC governs will face consequences if they violate the ban, he said, with a first offense requiring members to undergo an education program, and repeated offenses resulting in fines. IFC will have to decide how to enforce the ban on campus.
Henry said the IFC is exploring partnerships with sororities to agree on the types of alcohol coming into parties.
He said he hopes the mandate pushes fraternities to embrace the idea that partying without hard alcohol can be just as fun.
“Having open bottles of hard alcohol can lead people to drink a lot more than you would ever think,” Henry said. “There are still other things they can serve at parties, and I think that fraternity members will find that it’s actually more enjoyable.”