The University of Missouri is preparing to institute a policy to allow fraternity members 21 and older to drink alcohol in their houses. Kansas University already has a similar policy in place.
Amy Long, KU’s associate director at its Student Involvement and Leadership Center, oversees greek life and leadership programs for SILC.
At KU, she said, each fraternity house has independent authority to determine whether alcohol is allowed on a day-to-day basis. One fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, is substance-free because of its national organization’s policies, she said, while others are not.
All of KU’s sororities are alcohol-free. KU does, however, have a policy that regulates events of greek organizations that involve alcohol.
Those events must have food present, security guards and safe transportation provided to and from.
Public safety officials at Missouri expressed concern that their rule change would lead to an increase in underage drinking. Jen Jordan, director of prevention for DCCCA and a member of the New Tradition Coalition of Lawrence that targets underage drinking, agreed that the policy likely contributes to the issue.
“I think it would increase access to alcohol for those under 21,” she said, because of the alcohol’s increased proximity and accessibility to minors.
Missouri changed its policy, according to one of its Interfraternity Council members, because “a lot of people thought it was unfair that 21-year-old people weren’t allowed to drink in their own residences.”
At Missouri, the policy includes increased enforcement measures, such as a third party to conduct random audits and check IDs to make sure students are following the rules.
Stephen Nichols is the recently elected student president of KU’s Interfraternity Council.
“I think we have a good system in place,” he said of KU’s system.
He said the group’s judicial board addresses violations of alcohol policies, and it looks to individual presidents across the system to ensure that members are taking responsibility for their actions.
Jordan said underage drinking remained an issue in Lawrence, particularly because of the abundance of 19- and 20-year-olds attending KU. She said her group would continue to work to reverse the trend.
“Under 21, it’s illegal. It’s not healthy. It’s unsafe,” she said. “Period.”