Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Sororities to boycott caterer for underage drinking

Groups claim company fails to observe state laws at parties

October 2, 2004


In an attempt to curb underage drinking at parties, Kansas University's sororities are uniting to boycott a Lawrence catering company.

The university's Panhellenic Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a boycott of Jayhawk Catering, which, members say, allows party-goers who are under 21 to drink alcohol.

"We're not saying underage drinking is acceptable," said Morgan McBee, president of the Panhellenic Assn., which represents KU's sororities. "We're not saying using a fake ID is acceptable. But Jayhawk catering is."

McBee said Jayhawk Catering, 1510 N. Third St., had been a popular choice for KU's greek community. The company operates the Teepee and Schoolhouse venues, both near Teepee Junction north of Lawrence.

KU's fraternities and sororities have a policy that requires them to hire a third-party vendor to provide alcohol at events, which McBee said was designed to prevent underage drinking.

The policy requires people who enter parties to be on a guest list, and for those allowed inside to present a photo ID at the door. If they're 21, they're given a wristband allowing them to drink alcohol. If not, the doorman marks their hands with an 'X.'

But McBee said sorority leaders frequently had complained that bartenders employed by Jayhawk Catering allowed even those without a wristband to drink alcohol, and that doormen didn't scrutinize IDs for authenticity.

"We feel they're taking advantage of us in not following our policies and the law of the state of Kansas," McBee said. "In order to get them to follow our policies, we're going to ban them, and they'll see we're serious."

Vote upcoming

The boycott was proposed by presidents of 13 sororities affiliated with the Panhellenic Assn. The Panhellenic Council, which includes members representing each sorority, will vote during a meeting Tuesday.

McBee said sororities also had complained about the company charging extra after parties if those attending didn't purchase a certain amount of alcohol, even though that was not part of the initial agreement.

Mike Evans, a manager for Jayhawk Catering, declined to comment for this story.

Businesses that offer liquor at functions they cater are regulated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control division of the Kansas Department of Revenue. Caterers are required to notify ABC officials a minimum of 10 days before an event at which liquor will be sold.

ABC officials could not be reached Friday for comment.

Spreading to fraternities

Because sororities typically have parties jointly with fraternities, McBee said the Panhellenic Assn.'s boycott would effectively mean a boycott of Jayhawk Catering for fraternities as well.

Jayhawk Catering was the third-party vendor during a March 14 party at the Teepee, said Amy Probst, former social chair for the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Devin Scott Emery, 20, of Wichita, was killed when he was struck by a car after leaving the party. His blood-alcohol content was 0.24.

But Laura Cripple, KU's program director for fraternity and sorority life, said students decided on the ban because of a series of complaints, not one event. She said students were concerned about the safety of their members and liability issues if something were to happen to an underage person.

"My understanding from talking with students is the safety of the members is what's driving this," she said. "It's making sure they're safe and their chapters are protected. It takes a lot of courage for students to get together and take a stand on something like this."

Alternative venues

Cripple said the greek community was hoping this would be a temporary boycott and that Jayhawk Catering would agree to strengthen its enforcement of Panhellenic Assn. policies and state laws.

Until then, McBee said sororities had begun using other venues, such as the Meat Market, 811 N.H., Bella Lounge, 925 Iowa, and the Eagle's Lodge, 1803 W. Sixth St.

McBee said despite public stereotypes, greek leaders were strict about alcohol use.

"We're not having big, drunken, open parties," she said. "That's not what we're about."

-- 6News reporter Brooke Wehner contributed information to this report.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.