Reactions to the announcement by the North American Interfraternity Council (NIC) to “prohibit hard alcohol from fraternity chapter facilities and events” continue to come in. (See September 7 Update.) The Washington Post weighed in with a news story and an editorial. The editors deemed the ban “a welcome step, even if it is long overdue.” They also pointed out that “hard liquor lets students get drunk faster; it has become a staple of dangerous hazing rituals and given rise to such high-risk behaviors as ‘pre-gaming.’” Yet, the ban is not a cure-all to underage drinking problems, the Post observes. “Beer, wine and malt beverages, all still allowed for those of age to drink them, also have the potential to be abused.“ That’s why even schools that have banned liquor have also adopted other measures to advance health and safety. Fraternities “would do well” to study other measures as well, the editors advise, without specifying any.
The Post’s new story suggested that NIC, along with the National Panhellenic Conference, which represents 26 sororities, and several similar organizations, are all working with parents who have lost students in hazing incidents to broaden the scope of their efforts. Specifically, NIC’s president Judson Horras has met with the parents of Tim Piazza, who died in a hazing incident at Penn State, and others. “The relationship has opened doors,” Piazza’s dad Jim told the Post. He and other parents have spoken directly to “thousands of students through fraternity conferences and other events and have more meetings scheduled into next year.” Their blunt message: “Don’t let this happen on your watch.” Also in the works from this new informal coalition: “online programming to spread the message widely and design a curriculum that would allow college students to teach younger students about hazing and bullying, to try to prevent problems early.” There’s talk of legislation that would force universities to report hazing incidents and increase criminal penalties for such activity. Finally: “They are lobbying to ensure that forced excessive drinking is viewed like other forms of injury caused by hazing.” As one of the other parents told the Post: “The universities need to step up too.”
“Beer is Different,” Beer Institute Reminds As we noted last week, The Distilled Spirits Council, responded that the ban is “not supported by the science… sends a misleading message that some forms of alcohol are ‘softer’ than others, and undercuts equivalence information” from multiple government and college education material that a drink is a drink.
Not surprisingly, the Beer Institute had different response: “Americans welcome beer at nearly every occasion because beer’s moderate alcohol content means it can be enjoyed sensibly. The new North-American Interfraternity Conference’s decision to ban hard liquor is a bold step, since hard liquor may be served in a way where consumers do not know how much alcohol is in their drink, making it more prone to abuse. Beer, on the other hand, is very different. Consumers know what they are getting because beers are single-serve, whether in an aluminum can, bottle, or draft glass, ensuring that consumers are aware of the alcohol that is in every serving of beer that they choose.”