UM's new drinking policy taken in stride by students

October 16, 1990|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Special to the Evening Sun

COLLEGE PARK -- Throw no parties, drink no beer, but have fun anyway.

University of Maryland students appear to be taking a new ban on weekday fraternity beer parties in stride at the school's main campus here.

UM officials instituted the ban last week because of concern about alcohol abuse, the impact of weekday parties on class attendance and campus-community relations.

Many among the 4,000 fraternity and sorority members agree the new policy is an idea whose time has come and don't feel the change put a damper on last week's homecoming events.

"Homecoming isn't more boring," said Andrea Levine, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. "All that's different is that there is no alcohol."

Under the new policy, there are to be no more than 300 people at any party.

Parties at the school's 27 fraternities and 17 sororities tend to attract many students who don't belong to the "Greek" organizations. The university had asked fraternities and sororities to devise a tighter policy for parties for the past five years.

When administrators felt that some houses were ignoring a directive to halt the serving of beer and other alcoholic beverages at parties this fall, the school threatened a stiffer crackdown, said Robin Koenigsberg, vice president of the Panhellenic Association, a governing body for the sororities and fraternities.

Within days, a group of sorority and fraternity leaders devised the policy the university was seeking.

"When we came back in the fall and they [students] chose to flagrantly and vagrantly violate all rules, they invited this to happen," said Drury Bagwell, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said of the students. "They invited this upon themselves.

"It's unfortunate this happened during homecoming," Koenigsberg said. But she acknowledged that the school had given undergraduates plenty of warning.

"The Greek system has to trust its leaders," she said. "The [fraternity and sorority] presidents were well informed, and they knew what the alternatives were and they were not very good. The university was not giving us much choice."

The new policy includes the establishment of two new committees, to monitor parties at night and to handle community complaints. A campus aide or off-duty police officer must be hired to check IDs at every party, where non-alcoholic drinks must now be offered as an alternative to beer. Formerly, there were no ID checks.

The policy includes a chance for a fraternity or sorority to have parties on Thursdays next semester if its members compile a higher grade point average than the campus average. The policy also restricts to four the number of Greek houses that can sponsor a party and limits the hours a party may run.

Some fraternity and sorority members are angry the policy was not phased in.

"Plain and simple, the way in which the policy was handed down was unfair," said Patrick Nelson, a Delta Chi fraternity member who, nonetheless, agrees with the changes. "I never liked partying on Thursdays, anyway, so I think moving the party days from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday was appropriate."

Some aren't so sure that the change will curb student drinking.

"I don't think it's a good idea because it's going to promote students driving to D.C. and students going to bars to drink," said Paula Sanchez, of Alpha Phi sorority.

But the university doesn't believe the stricter policy will cause students to drink elsewhere off campus, Bagwell said. When campus dormitories cracked down on drinking by students a few years ago, it didn't result in equal numbers of students heading to town to drink, he said.

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